Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Good First Week

At the end of our first week at the Danbury site, we have made several interesting discoveries. The exposure of the last section of the stockade line was mentioned in the last post. Three new burial features were identified along the western edge of Lot 4 underneath a very compact layer of recent fill, most likely from debris thrown up during excavation of the drainage swale along the roadside. We resorted to the mattock to get through some of this very hard soil, and yet intact features were found below. One of the burials included six marginella beads, small marine gastropods that were perforated on one side for stringing and used as ornaments or embroidered onto clothing. We cannot yet tell the age of these features since no diagnostic artifacts, such as complete projectile points or decorated pottery, were recovered.

Speaking of pottery, Jim Bowers's crew found a large, but very unusual, post molds in the southeastern corner of Lot 4. It contained about eight large, thick, grit-tempered pot sherds at the bottom of the hole that once contained a wooden house post. It may be that these sherds were put into the post hole to provide a tighter fit for the post. In the images above, you can see the cross-section of the post mold with two large pot sherds sticking out (left) and the remaining pot sherds lining the bottom of the hollowed-out post mold (right).

These sherds appear to all be from one vessel which we should be able to partially reassemble. The pottery is of a type called Leimbach Cordmarked (above) and dates to the Early Woodland period, about 2,500 to 3,000 years ago. Although quite old, this type of pottery is the most common form found at the Danbury site. This tells us that Early Woodland people returned to this site again and again over many centuries.

At least one of the most interesting burial features found last season was affiliated with these early people. This feature contained the remains of three people along with a carved slate artifact called a "birdstone," part of a limestone smoking pipe, and fragments of one carved and ground wolf jaw which may have been part of a ritual mask or an ornament. The establishment of cemeteries at sites like Danbury indicate that Native Americans were making these places their own. As with all human remains found at the Danbury site, the bones found this season will be studied by physical anthropologists to identify their age, sex, stature, relative health, and physical relationships to other Native American populations which inhabited Ohio. At the conclusion of the analysis, the remains and associated burial goods will be reburied at another location on the site.

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