Saturday, July 14, 2007

A New Burial Pattern Appears

Much of our work of late involves the recording of burial features. We are working at the southern boundary of Lot 4 in an effort to join together our block excavation areas from 2004 and 2005 (see our excavation plan in the June 24 post). As it turns out, this area contains a relatively dense cluster of adult and subadult (child) burials but almost no domestic features (i.e., cooking pits, storage pits, and midden or trash deposits). Several of the smaller (subadult?) burial pits we have recorded contain loose soil and only fragments of human bone. A cross-section of one of these is shown below.

These pits most likely represent graves from which the remains were exhumed by prehistoric Native Americans. We do not yet understand why such burials were disinterred; however, we have found other adult burials that contained the bundled remains of children. Perhaps some of these young ones were exhumed from their individual graves for reburial with relatives. Interestingly, many of these subadult burials lie just to the southeast of a distinct alignment of adult graves which runs northeast to southwest. This pattern is unlikely to be random but rather is evidence of a preplanned cemetery.

A few burials in this cluster contain undisturbed remains of children like Burial Feature 07-08 which was found just this week. It contained the skeleton of a young child and included several marginella shell beads and the single shell disk bead pictured below.

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