Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wrapping Up for the Season

This past Friday, we closed out the 2007 field season at Danbury. Everyone was very busy removing the last features and backfilling deep excavation units. Jim Bowers and crew removed the last of the bundle burials from "The Ossuary," alias Burial Feature 07-04. This feature turned out to be truly astounding. Our field counts of crania alone exceeded 20 individuals, and the post-cranial bones were densely packed into the center of the pit. We found no birdstones or exotic artifacts in the ossuary, which disappointed a few crew members, but we also found nothing to contradict our working hypothesis that the feature is of Early Woodland age.

This conclusion is based on two observations. One is that only thick, cordmarked, grit-tempered pot sherds, resembling the Leimbach series, were found scattered among the bones, nothing of later vintage was found. Secondly, our cursory examination of some of the teeth appeared heavily worn and with little to no evidence of tooth decay. Such healthy but worn-out teeth are much more typical of hunting and gathering populations such as the Late Archaic and Early Woodland inhabitants of this region, than of Late Woodland or Late Prehistoric period maize agriculturalists. I guess we will have to radiocarbon date one or two samples of bone to find out the real age of this intriguing feature.

I plan to continue my entries to this blog for the next few months with updates on our work in the lab as well as posts on some of the other interesting projects we have underway.

Finally, let me finish with a final "farewell" and big "thank you" to all our very hard-working and very interested field school volunteers and students. You all did a fantastic job and worked steadily in the heat and in the slop (last week). You are directly responsible for the great success we have had this season. Also, we remain grateful to Greg Spatz and Cove on the Bay for allowing us to do this work and continuing to do "the right thing" when it comes to saving a part of this extremely important archaeological resource.

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