HSSC Archaeology Fieldwork Update – April 2015

After a long winter in the lab, the Castle Archaeology Crew is happy to be back in the field! Continuing our focus from last year, we have been busy looking for early to mid-nineteenth century sites related to the origin and initial development of the City of Saginaw and surrounding communities. We’d like to explore how people in these communities interacted with each other, with surrounding communities, and with the wider world.

Engaged in these efforts, the Archaeology Crew has recently been slogging through muddy fields in Swan Creek Township looking for broken dishes, bits of glass, and other traces that might signify the location of an early homestead or other structure. And we’ve met with some success!

The survey crew in Swan Creek Township

The survey crew in Swan Creek Township

In the approximately 8 hectares (20 acres) we’ve surveyed, we’ve found three concentrated scatters of domestic debris which appear to date primarily to the mid-19th century. In addition to various hand-painted and transfer-printed ceramics, we’ve found window glass, bottle fragments, a few clay pipe fragments, badly corroded square nails, and a “prosser” button.

Ceramics from one of the ca. mid-19th century artifact scatters.

Ceramics from one of the ca. mid-19th century artifact scatters.

We’ve also recorded a highly diffuse scatter of later 19th – early 20th century debris over much of the area. Some of the later material includes one ceramic and a couple of glass marbles, several “amethyst glass” bottle fragments, and a couple of glass canning jar lid fragments.

Late 19th to early 20th century artifacts - ceramic marble, "amethyst glass" bottle fragment, and glass canning jar lid.

Late 19th to early 20th century artifacts – ceramic marble, “amethyst glass” bottle fragment, and glass canning jar lid.

Prehistoric material is also present in the area, primarily in the form of FCR along with a few chert flakes and flaked stone tools and one chip from a ground stone tool, perhaps a celt. Unfortunately, none of the prehistoric artifacts is temporally diagnostic.

Prehistoric artifacts - utilized/edge-damaged flake, bipolar core, and bifacially retouched flake.

Prehistoric artifacts – utilized/edge-damaged flake, bipolar core, and bifacially retouched flake.

 

As we continue to survey additional parcels, we will also begin the next step of trying to determine who might have been responsible for the mid-19th century artifact scatters. The three artifact concentrations do not correspond with any structures noted on the 1877 or 1896 plat maps of the Township. Therefore, if these artifact clusters were associated with houses or other semi-permanent residential structures, they may have been abandoned prior to 1877.

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