Week Five in Review

The big crew at lunch - Ashley, Dylan, Erika, Claire, and Shaun.

The crew of the Garden Creek archaeological project doubled in size during our fifth week in the field, and what with additional trips to the airport and grocery store, there was little time for blogging. However, there was plenty of time (and man/woman-power) for fieldwork, which I’ll try to summarize on our day off.

Shaun and I spent most of the week working in Feature 1. Thanks to a freshly cleaned 80 cm deep profile (and some helpful photos from Dr. Larry Kimball), we were able to determine that the feature is actually a pit. It consists of several layers of fill that were dumped in over time, some of which included charcoal, daub, and artifacts. Conversely, the thick blanket of charcoal at the bottom of the pit was more likely the result of an in situ burning event that also burned the clay floor and walls of the pit.

The fairly rooty, partial profile of Feature 1 in cross-section. The gray-brown soil at the top is the plow zone. The stripes of gray and yellow-brown below it represent different pit filling/dumping episodes. The black flecks are charcoal, and the orange flecks are burned clay. The dark line at the bottom is charcoal from a probable in situ burning episode.

After identifying these layers in the profile, we excavated the remaining exposed portions of the pit according to their natural stratigraphy. Shaun spent a lot of time cleaning the fired clay pit walls — a painstaking but worthwhile task. Now, all that’s left to do is scrape the pit walls and floors across these units for a photo, collect a column of sediment for flotation, and backfill.

North wall of Feature 1 pit. The red burned clay was later exposed behind and below the layer of charcoal as well. The yellow clay at the bottom of the photo is subsoil that was exposed during excavation of the adjacent unit.

Meanwhile, Erika finished her excavation of the pit in Unit 5. It was much smaller than Feature 1, but it contained several large Connestee potsherds. We look forward to comparing the artifacts from this pit (Feature 5) to those from Feature 1 and from pits in the mound, to determine if different activities or patterns of refuse disposal were occurring in different places.

Pit in Unit 5, plus 2 probable postholes.

Last but not least, in Unit 4, we continued our investigation of the midden. By Friday afternoon, all of the feature fill had been removed and screened, yielding several bags worth of sherds and other artifacts. Tomorrow, we will get final photos of the unit and excavate the line of seemingly rock filled postholes just east of the midden.

The midden (Feature 4) is the dark stain in the northwest portion of the unit. The line of postholes runs roughly north to south in the east part of the unit.

In addition to finishing up Unit 4, we’ll also be starting the trench through the possible earthwork ditch tomorrow. Luckily, for the next few weeks we have plenty of hands to complete it!

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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.
This entry was posted in Excavation, Features. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Week Five in Review

  1. Bennie Keel says:

    Looking very nice and sounds productive in artifacts, well sherds anyway.

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