Sunday, June 24, 2007

Completing Our Coverage

At the end of our second week, we have made much progress. We successfully completed most of our systematic testing of Lot 4. By systematic, I mean regular spatial sampling of the remaining deposits in this important part of the development. As the map of the 2004-2006 excavation above shows, our work in Lots 4, and 6 was carried out in two progressive stages. The first stage was the laying out of 2 x 2-meter excavation units at regular intervals to sample the surviving burial features, cooking and storage pits, post molds, and, unavoidably, recent disturbances from past farming and trailer park living. This systematic sampling approach is most obvious in Lot 6 (at the top of the map), but was undertaken in Lot 4 as well. This map does not show our new units from this season; if it did, you would see that most of the "holes" (i.e., gaps in the rows of test units) are now filled in. Our work began in Lot 3 in 2004 (bottom of the map) where we started with systematic testing but quickly shifted to blocks of contiguous units. This change was necessary to allow an early assessment of what remained at the site. We halted our work in Lot 3 at the end of the 2004 season when we learned that this property was destined to be preserved.

The second phase of excavation involved the addition of test units to form large block areas. These blocks exposed more of the features and post mold lines that we found through systematic testing. Below is a view of one block excavation area from the 2005 season.

This more extensive approach is in keeping with the "salvage" nature of our work at Danbury. We want to record as much of the site that remains as possible. Despite our best efforts, however, we will not be able to rescue everything that remains. This does not mean that we are done with our work. In the final four weeks we plan to sample and document the dense concentration of features which lies in the western one quarter or so of Lot 4. If enough time remains, we may engage a backhoe to strip the remaining plow zone from the strip along the eastern edge of the property. In the end though, the days of digging an entire site with masses of hardy workers is no more; now "sampling" is the prime directive.

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