This Week’s Goal: Figuring Out Feature 1

As the fourth week of excavations begins at Garden Creek, we have returned to Feature 1. We began excavating it early last week, but rain delayed further investigations until today.

Two-thirds of the horizontal exposure of Feature 1, taken mid-level. It's hard to see in the photo, but the middle of the feature is considerably deeper than the subsoil on the west edge of the unit. The dark area in the northeast corner is another feature -- probably a pit -- that awaits excavation. The very dark areas in the middle of the unit are charcoal scatters; the gray brown areas in the south are the auger hole, root holes, or possible posts; and the red and orange splotches and lines are daub or burned clay.

Feature 1 appears across the three 1×1 m squares we opened in Unit 3. A depression cut at least 30 cm into the subsoil, this feature is filled with layers of daub and charcoal. It appears to have been lined by of posts along at least one edge. We have only found a few potsherds in Feature 1, but they indicate that is likely dates to the Middle Woodland Connestee phase, like Mound No. 2. In addition, we have found several clear quartz flakes and small sheet mica fragments in the fill.

The challenge now is to define the bottom of the feature. This is trickier than it sounds. We want to avoid stepping into the unit (which would smear the surfaces), but soon, the base of the feature will be too deep for our arms to reach from outside it! Nevertheless, we’re motivated by the hope that Feature 1’s function will become clearer as we  finish exposing it.

Erika and Ashley, removing the plowzone over a portion of Feature 1 last week.

Of course, this is not the only area we’re working on this week. Later on, Erika will report on the crew’s ongoing removal of the plowzone over a probable midden (Unit 4) and the many artifacts we are finding there.

Some of the mica found in Feature 1.

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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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