Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Finishing Up Field Work for the Summer

 The Wingos feature found on the "last day" had us back at the site the following Monday and Tuesday to expose, map, photograph and excavate it. It turned out to be filled with burned tree roots and charcoal, with no artifacts and nothing to tell us when it was formed. That's archaeology!

The last week at Indian Camp was much more interesting. We finished digging shovel test pits in the open land surrounding the house, and continued to find bricks, wrought and cut nails, bottle glass, and a variety of ceramics. One test unit in the western field came down on a feature--the bottom of the hole was filled with dark brown, charcoal- and ash-rich soil, and the number of artifacts was much higher than elsewhere. By the end of week 5, we had expanded our shovel test pit into larger units to expose a roughly 2 x 4 ft. shallow feature and two post holes. One appears to have been dug with a modern posthole digger, but the other was square, with a distinct mold and hole. We photographed and mapped everything, but did not dig the features out, as a piece of early to mid-19th century stoneware in the top of the feature fill suggests that it dates later than the slave quarters we are looking for. However, in the plowed soil overlying the features, we found British brown stoneware, a possible piece of German grey stoneware (Westerwald), a  wine bottle seal (unfortunately, the center of the seal that usually has the initials of the owner was missing), and some colonoware, suggesting that an earlier component of the site is somewhere close by.

Back in the woods, Brad did a metal detector sweep of the area with the light artifact scatter, and found a number of hits. He and Lauren only dug a few, and each contained a hand wrought nail. We mapped the location of all the hits and opened a few more test units at the edge of the field just south of the tree line. At 3:45 on Friday afternoon, we found the edge of a feature in one of the test pits. We'll have to wait until next summer to find out if it is a plow scar, or something more interesting. This area is promising, and we'll explore it further in 2012.

Although field work is complete for the summer, we've got lots to do in the lab and in the library. We'll continue to update our progress throughout the coming months.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wingos and Cows

At Wingos the resident cows (a mother and a baby) have been having fun with the units while we are gone. Features like the ones in this photo became a common sight after uncovering a unit in progress on a Monday morning!

This Friday was intended to be the last day of work at Wingos. As events turned out, it is not the end. We were cleaning out our last 5x5 foot unit for the season, ER 382, and turned up a feature that extended along the southern floor of the unit. This was not so surprising, because there was a large rock situated within the feature, which can be an indicator of buildings in the immediate vicinity. What really surprised us was a darker patch of redder dirt that appeared underneath cutting into subsoil as we cleaned out the feature. Alas, it seemed to run under the wall so we could not really tell what it might be. With the end of the workday approaching, those of us staying on to work at Indian Camp next week opened up a small unit to the south to try to solve the mystery of this new feature. The mystery remains unsolved, so Monday a skeleton crew will return to further open up the unit to the south. Thus far, all past features we have seen in the plowzone this season have been pegged as plow scars, tree roots, burned tree roots, or just inexplicable patches. We hope that this feature in ER 382 may be something substantial and eventually explicable!

The plowzone in the last 2 weeks at Wingos has yielded several sherds of colonoware, one sherd of Westerwald stoneware, two copper buttons, several fragments of clay pipes, lots of wrought nails, and many more prehistoric lithics and debitage. The colonoware was exciting to find, as we had not seen any all season. Both sherds actually came from the same unit with the unknown feature, ER 382, that took up so much of the full crew's last Friday together. There was definitely activity occurring in that area. Perhaps even another building footprint? We can hope…