This weekend, I’m writing from the great state of Michigan, where I am picking up new members of the GCAP excavation team. In order to make this trip, we were only in the field a few days this week, but we nonetheless made quite a pit of progress on the earthwork. This is largely thanks to the energy of Christina Sampson and Claire Talbert, who will be greatly missed the rest of the season!
As mentioned in earlier blog entries, the major goal of our 5 x 1 m trench is to cross-section a magnetic anomaly that we interpreted as a probable earthwork ditch. By cutting straight through one of the sides of this roughly square-shaped ditch, we wanted to see and begin to understand the history of earthwork construction and in-filling.
After more than a week of careful excavation, during which we found fragments of mica sheets, stone tools, and plenty of Connestee ceramics, we finally reached the bottom of the ditch feature more than a meter below the ground surface. We then cleaned all walls of the unit. Two of the walls (below) show the ditch in cross section. The other two walls include the far edges of the ditch, which was about 1.5 m wide at the top; once we could see these in profile, we excavated them in natural levels.
By design, the ditch feature ran right through the middle of our trench. This configuration allowed us to sample the deposits immediately inside and immediately outside the earthwork. North of/inside the ditch enclosure, we found a small but artifact rich hearth (below). Additionally, Claire identified and excavated several large postholes both north/inside and south/outside the ditch enclosure.
Next week, when we return to Garden Creek, we will begin excavating another unit over earthwork anomaly. In this case, however, we aim to increase our sample of materials from the ditch deposits, so our unit will be directly over top of/in line with the ditch, rather than perpendicular to the ditch. Still, having done the cross-section, we now know what sorts of deposits to anticipate, so excavating in natural levels should be fairly straightforward. We’ve already removed the sod and plowzone here, so hopefully it won’t be long before we have more to say about these efforts!