A First Look at the Earthwork

Finally, a rain day has given me the chance to update the blog. This week, our energies were divided among three different areas.

Jordan and Shaun opening up Unit 7.

Jordan, Shaun, and Claire opened a 2×1 m unit over an anomaly 10 meters west of the pit. So far, they’ve found a circular burned clay surface at least a meter wide, which they will continue to investigate next week.

Meanwhile, I spent most of the week cleaning up Feature 1 and trying to detangle its stratigraphy. Thanks to everyone who offered ideas for how to better interpret this massive pit! Our evolving take on it is that it is a pit within a pit. The large one is minimally 2.5 m long by 1.8 m wide; its nearly vertical walls are lined with red clay and the floor is covered with the thick charcoal layer mentioned in earlier posts. The smaller pit is about 1.5 m in diameter. It shares two walls with the larger pit, while another vertical, clay lined wall demarcates its west edge. Both pits include multiple layers of fill, which we will explore further with flotation and possibly with micromorphological analysis.

One of the small profiles of the pit features, with a few zones of fill, two instances of red clay pit wall lining, and the charcoal layer at the bottom.

Last, Christina spent the week checking out the earthwork.

Christina, taking notes on the earthwork trench.

Our excavation strategy here entails taking the central 1×1 down to subsoil in 10cm arbitrary levels (below the shoveled-away plowzone). Then we’re tracing out what is left of the ditch and surrounding deposits in the adjacent 2x1s. This will expose the a cross-section of the earth work.

So far, we are 80 cm below surface in the central square and the ditch is still going! Though we are waiting until we reach the bottom to cleanly scrape the profiles, we can already detect three levels of fill. All of the artifacts coming from these deposits date to the Middle Woodland period. There are also several posts immediately outside the ditch and fragments of mica sheet between two of the fill zones. By the time we take a long-weekend break next week, we hope to have the profiles exposed and some photos of it up on the blog.

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 A First Look at the Earthwork

  1. Bennie Keel says:

    The red clay lining is most likely from the fire in the pit. It oxidized the iron in the clay and turned it red. Will be interested in seeing the earthwork and hope it is still open when I visit next week

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