Monday, September 24, 2012

Wingos Field Work 2012

During May we returned to Wingos for a few weeks of additional excavations. Last winter, when we were working on the report, we found that we had several different lines of evidence suggesting that there was an enclosure southwest of the slave cabin that we’d discovered in 2009. First, we had mapped and excavated a number of small, circular features that we think were the remains of small posts. When we plotted them on a master map, they seemed to form two perpendicular lines, and part of a third line. The posts are quite small, and we think that they may have supported a woven wattle fence. Second, we found that there were concentrations of artifacts corresponding to these lines, indicating that the lines had formed boundaries between spaces that site residents kept intentionally clean, and spaces where they dumped trash. Third, we found that concentrations of soil chemicals associated with trash disposal generally mirrored the highs and lows of artifact counts. All of these lines of evidence point to our discovery of fence lines that enclosed a yard space. We hadn’t dug enough to determine the location of all the fences, the overall size of the yard, or what, if anything, may have been adjacent to it on the eastern side, so we set out to gather more information this year.

Our group from the University of Tennessee was expanded by volunteers from the Archeological Society of Virginia, Monticello, Poplar Forest, Roanoke College, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources who spent one or more days working with us. We found three more features that are probably associated with the enclosure, collected more soil samples from within and outside of the enclosure, and excavated additional artifacts. Once these are placed on our master map along with the new chemical and artifact data, we will have a clearer picture of the way that people living at Wingos organized and used the space around their house.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Becoming “Official”

In 2011 we completed a shovel test pit survey of about 20 acres of woods, fields and lawn at French’s Tavern. We found hundreds of artifacts made and used from prehistory through to the 20th century. Two areas contained 18th-century artifacts that might date prior to the 1770s. We decided to do additional work at both sites in 2012. Although both were disturbed in the 20th century by logging or plowing, we thought that they still contained enough information to make them excavation worthwhile.

Over the winter we catalogued artifacts and mapped their distribution to determine rough boundaries for each site. In the spring we submitted site forms to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Their staff assigned a state site number to each site, which will serve as an official name for record-keeping and reporting. Following a system developed by the Smithsonian Institution in the 1940s and adopted nationally, each site is given a number that is coded with three sets of information. The site number begins with a numeric code for the state in which it is located. The states are numbered in alphabetic order, with 44 standing for Virginia. That two-digit code is followed by an abbreviation for the county in which the site is located (PO stands for Powhatan) and the final number of the code is  assigned based on a cumulatively numbered list of previous sites.  In this case, our sites are the 157th and 158th archaeological sites recorded in Powhatan, so they are now officially 44PO157 and 44PO158.

44PO157 is located in the field immediately west of French’s Tavern, the historic tavern and dwelling located near the eastern edge of the Indian Camp property.  Crystal Ptacek and Hope Smith supervised excavations there in 2012.

44PO158 is on a gentle slope above a spring that feeds Indian Camp creek. Brad Hatch and Lauren McMillan oversaw excavations there. Kathryn Gard, Rachel Guy, and Aaron Miller excavated both sites as field school students.