That’s more like it

Things are looking up at the Garden Creek site, where we opened two new units this week. Compared to our first unit, Units 2 and 3 are much closer to  Mound No. 2. We are fortunate to have the support of landowners Will and Brittany Warren, who have graciously allowed us to put square holes across their property. Thank you!

Over the weekend, we mapped out and marked the location of five new units in the Warrens’ yard (over magnetic anomalies detected below the ground surface), and on Monday, we had to select which of these we would excavate first. To do this, we used a soil auger to take a small core sample from each area. When we pulled up sediment, we looked for changes in soil color/texture and artifacts that would indicate the presence of a man-made deposit or feature. Based on the results of coring, each of these five units looks promising, but for now, we are focusing on Unit 2, about 70 m south of Mound No. 2 and Unit 3, about 30 m south of Mound No 2.

Alice, demonstrating how to use her favorite equipment purchase -- the auger!

We selected Unit 2 because the auger hit what seemed to be fire cracked rock about 30 cm below the ground surface, which could have represented the remains of a hearth or midden. Further excavations yielded an abundance of broken rocks and cobbles, as well as very hard, very dry clay. These clods have been troublesome to excavate and even more troublesome to screen. However, our efforts yielded fruit late this afternoon, when we uncovered at least one large, burned posthole, surrounded by a scatter of burned clay and charcoal. In fact, this was exactly what Tim predicted we would find, on the basis of the magnetometer results! In the next few days, we will expand the horizontal exposure of this unit to see if we can trace a structural (e.g., house) pattern among additional postholes — a possibility that is made more likely by nearby magnetic anomalies.

Erika with her first find of the season in Unit 2 -- a potsherd!

Meanwhile, Unit 3 was selected for excavation for several reasons. First, Will told us that nearby, he had found potsherds and a large amount of white quartz debitage while recently planting a bush. Second, the core sample was exciting: about 30 cm below the surface, the auger produced considerable amounts and charcoal, as well as a few sherds. Although we have not yet reached that depth in full excavation, we hope to discover what exactly this charcoal represents tomorrow. If possible, we will expand the horizontal area encompassed by this unit, to uncover additional features that will tell us about the activities that occurred close to Mound No. 2 during the Middle Woodland period.

Beginning excavations of Unit 3. Before it was excavated in the sixties, Mound No. 2 stood just behind the clothesline in the upper right of this picture.

With luck, this evening’s light, steady rain will have softened the hard sediment in/around Units 2 and 3, allowing us to make substantial progress in the excavation. Over the next few days, we also hope to stake out a few more units. These should keep us busy for several weeks, and (fingers crossed) produce results as interesting as those in Units 2 and 3!

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About Alice Wright

Alice is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Appalachian State University. She tweets about archaeology, Appalachia, and cats @alicepwright.
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One Response to That’s more like it

  1. Bennie says:

    That dirt sure is hard when it is dry. I know the score on that. Keep at it.

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