Thanks to a stretch of terrific late winter weather, we were able to accomplish quite a bit in our first week back at Garden Creek. This final phase of fieldwork includes both geophysical survey and excavation, in order to cover as much of the site as possible and to study in greater detail certain areas with rich archaeological deposits.
Last year, Tim Horsley surveyed a large portion of Garden Creek using a magnetometer, which pinpointed the location of several anomalies, including pits, hearths, and the earthwork ditch enclosures. Now, he’s back at the site to expand the magnetometer survey grid and to try out several additional geophysical techniques. So far, he’s used ground penetrating radar to produce a high resolution, three-dimensional map of the buried earthworks and surrounding areas, and magnetic susceptibility to identify general trends in the intensity of occupation across much of the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, with the help of University of Michigan graduate student Travis Williams and undergraduate Sophia Reini, we’ve opened up a 2×3 meter unit (Unit 9) near the earthwork that we excavated last summer. This unit was positioned to target an anomaly inside the enclosure, so that we could learn more about the activities that were going on there. Once we cleared off the plowzone, we identified an arc of postholes that appear to demarcate the edge of the anomaly; it may be that the anomaly is a more deeply buried hearth or other feature inside of a structure. In addition, we identified a couple of pits in this unit, including one that was full of (though not apparently lined with) fragments of sheet mica. As with the mica we recovered from the ditch last summer, several of the fragments appear to have deliberately cut edges.
Assuming the weather holds, we plan to excavate the remainder of the features in this unit over the next few days. With luck, the information we learn from them will tell us something about Middle Woodland ceremonialism in and around Garden Creek’s earthen monuments. Time and further excavation will tell…