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The Excavation of House 1

The house proved to be roughly bilobate in form, with two rear sleeping platforms and a flagstone floor. A sunken entrance passage extended to the southwest. Off the northwestern corner of the house there was a small circular annex which may have been a cooking alcove; much of the fill in it consisted of burnt seal bone and cinders, which in the rest of the house were only found under part of the north platform. This alcove also had more "fall" rocks in it than the rest of the house, and may have been filled in before the rest of the house was abandoned, in which case the burnt bone and cinders could simply have been discarded there.

The whalebone rafters of the house roof appear to have been supported in the centre of the house by a column of square and rectangular boulders situated between the two platforms (squares E2-E3). A collapsed column of three boulders at the back of the north platform (square C2) may have supported the outer end of a rafter. Whether a similar column was located at the back of the south platform could not be determined, but some rocks in square G2 may have been a collapsed roof support. The depth of fill in the floor area of the house suggests that a fairly thick roof cover was present. The house appears to have been pretty thoroughly stripped of whalebone so nothing else can be said about the form of the roof. What whalebone there was consisted of rib fragments, a couple of pieces of mandible, and three large vertebrae, two of which were built into the wall of the cooking alcove.

A "tripod" lamp platform consisting of a thin flat slab supported by three long thin rectangular rocks was positioned in the floor area just in front of the central roof support column, where it would have been handy to both sleeping platforms. Another lamp platform (or perhaps just a shelf) was located by the outer edge of the north platform (squares C4-D4). Its outer edge was supported by the house wall while its inner edge would have rested on an upright rock.

Both sleeping platforms were quite intact, particularly the north one. However, there were a number of differences between the two platforms. On an almost esthetic level, the north platform was more neatly and elegantly constructed, with the rocks for the most part closely fitted together. The storage space under the front half of the platform (the rear rested directly on gravel) was neatly flagged, and had a back wall of upright slabs. The south platform, on the other hand, while as solidly constructed, seemed somewhat more haphazardly put together. The storage space under the front part of the platform was not flagged and had no back wall. One curious feature of this platform was three small rocks lined up at the inner edge of the platform near the central column, and a larger flat rock at the inner edge of the platform at its other end. They appear too regularly placed to be fall rocks, and may have been put there to act as a rather hard pillow. In light of these differences between the platforms, and drawing somewhat on ethnographic analogy, it is tempting to imagine that the two families (presumably) who built this house each constructed their own sleeping platform to their own tastes, while cooperating on the house as a whole.

Reconstruction >>