What’s going on besides the earthwork

It’s true, most of our attention for the last few weeks has been devoted to the earthwork ditch, where there’s quite a lot of material to excavate! However, we have not left the rest of the site behind, particularly as we approach the end of the season.

Chatting with a site visitor in Unit 3.

Last week, I spent two days back in Unit 3, with its large stratified pits. I collected two different types of samples that will be processed for further analysis. First, I took a series of sediment samples for flotation from a 50×50 square cm column that cut through all identified levels of both pits. Matrix from this”flot column,” which was collected in natural levels, will be run through a tank of moving water. This will not only separate soil from artifacts, but also heavy artifacts (like sherds and flakes) from lighter remains (like seeds and charcoal).

The Unit 3 flot column, with the plow zone partially removed.

After removing the flot column, I proceeded to take micromorphology samples from several profiles of the unit. Following the advice of geoarchaeologist friend Dr. Sarah Sherwood, I carefully removed cubes of dirt from different layers and at the boundaries of different layers. Soon, we will look at these samples under a microscope to see, among other things, if there are any microartifacts or evidence of weathering between layers that we couldn’t see with the naked eye.

One of the micromorph samples. This one catches the fill of the bottom (first, larger) pit, the burned clay wall of the top (second, smaller) pit, and the fill of the top pit.

With all of that complete, today we finally finished backfilling and re-seeding Unit 3. For now, our attentions are divided between the ditch (in plan and profile views) and on our Public Archaeology Day. If you find yourself in western North Carolina tomorrow (Saturday, August 20), please join us at the site from 1-3pm to learn more about the project in person. Just get in touch (apwright@umich.edu) if you need directions!

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 What’s going on besides the earthwork

  1. Bennie says:

    Sorry not to have commented on the last couple of posts buy I have been real busy getting Elaine.s house ready to rent by Sept 1.We are almost done – in addition to that I had to have surgery on my right eye. It is working great now.

    I wish that I could be there for your open house. Hope you have a very successful one. Larry Kimball will be excited about the ditch I am sure. The strat column in unit 3 is impressive and should give you some good data I would think. Did you get many ceramics and what kind?

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