Despite a torrential downpour, the second half of our sixth week in the field was a whirlwind of productive activity. Most of the crew worked to expand the trench through the possible earthwork feature, while Shaun and I continued to work out the stratigraphy and extent of Feature 1.
Claire and Erika continued excavating the central 1×1 m square in the earthwork trench (Unit 6), where they discovered some large Middle Woodland potsherds and sheet mica fragments. Once we reach the bottom of this unit, we will have north and south profiles showing the natural stratigraphy of the feature. We will trace these levels back through the rest of the trench, where we have already removed the plowzone, thanks to the efforts of Dylan, Jordan, new arrival Christina Perry Sampson (UM graduate student), and special guest Curtis Wright (Alice’s baby brother).
We anticipate that the construction history of this earthwork feature will become clearer as we continue excavating. In contrast, the more we dig, the more puzzling our big pit (Feature 1) becomes. At the very least, Shaun and Claire did a great job cleaning the last of the charcoal off the the pit walls for a photo.
At this point, we were surprised to find more charcoal behind the western clay wall. In response, we began removing the non-stratified “balk” in the northwest portion of this unit, in which we discovered a low but undeniable frequency of artifacts. Furthermore, as this area was excavated, we discovered that the south wall of red burned clay continued to the northwest.
Our best guess now is that this “pit” was divided by a wall of burned clay, or that it is a couple of overlapping pit features (thanks to my UM archaeology/paleoanthropology brothers for this latter idea!). The already excavated eastern portion of the pit was the site of multiple dumping episodes, as seen in the profiles (below). As yet, it is unclear what was happening in the western portion of the feature, except that there is a thick layer of charcoal at the base. We will likely need to excavate a few more 1x1s before we get a handle on it; any input from folks who have encountered similar features would be greatly appreciated!