Month: October 2014

Just when we thought the field season might be over…

Two weeks ago, a good friend of the Castle Museum’s Archaeology Program stopped by with news that he had encountered several fire-cracked rocks (FCR) while starting to dig a drainage trench on his property. Since the area had been farmed in prior decades, his digging was confined to the previously disturbed plowzone. However, when finished, the trench was expected to extend below the plowzone into potentially undisturbed levels. We were invited to check out the site and, if we wished, do some testing prior to completion of the trench.

An extant collection from the farm contains several artifacts dating from the Early Archaic through Late Woodland Period (including, I think, a couple of the bifurcate points pictured in the now available 2015 MAS Calendar). The farm collection had previously been assigned the state archaeological site number 20SA1374. Any intact archaeological deposits would be significant, an Early Archaic component especially so. Therefore, the opportunity to test the area before it was trenched was one we didn’t want to pass up.

Last Wednesday, Ken Kosidlo and I began excavating the drain trench in one meter long by 50 centimeter wide segments. On Thursday we were joined by Dave Hamilton. We are excavating in 10 cm levels and screening everything (including the sod/topsoil previously dug) through ¼ inch mesh screen.

Ken and Dave excavating the trench.

Ken and Dave excavating the trench.

The soil profile in the north end of the trench shows evidence of a dark, buried, former land surface, which appears to have been dug into, or scraped, with lighter-colored soil subsequently deposited on top. The buried surface slopes up to south, eventually merging with the plowzone. The buried surface, the plowzone, and the redeposited material above the buried surface all contain FCR. A small number of Bayport Chert flakes and possible quartzite flakes, a few calcined bone fragments, and few glass fragments and other historic period items have also been recovered. A few small FCR were found in the B-horizon soil below the buried surface/plowzone. However, these may be displaced in burrows or other areas of bioturbation. We have not yet recovered any temporally diagnostic prehistoric artifacts.

North end of Drain Trench showing buried surface.

North end of Drain Trench showing buried surface.

 

South end of Drain Trench showing plowzone and B-horizon.

South end of Drain Trench showing plowzone and B-horizon.

Unless we come up with something unexpected, we should be able to wrap up our testing this week. Even though we haven’t yet found any intact archaeological deposits, we are grateful for the opportunity to test this site and ensure that important archaeological materials will not be disturbed.