Sunday, June 28, 2009

Digging the Enclosure Trench

In week three, we succeeded in exposing a small section of the trench that makes up the oval enclosure. This enclosure was identified in the magnetic survey and is tucked up into the northeastern corner of the site. The trench (Fea. 09-10) is about one meter wide, a little less than one meter deep, and is bordered by lines of post molds. The fill is clearly stratified with light and dark soil horizons as shown below.

In earlier posts, I explained our (mostly my) assumption that this enclosure represents the stockade line of a Late Prehistoric period village site. This was based on the oval shape which resembles a number of village sites in this region. So early this past week, we began to carefully cross-section Fea. 09-10 and recover its contents, all the while assuming that we would find late pottery types such as Parker Festooned, the type of pottery found in Feature 09-04, the pit house described in my last post. Of course, things don't always work out that nicely in archaeology.

As Mary Lou's fine crew carefully removed layer after layer of the ditch fill, they uncovered numerous rather thick, grit-tempered, cordmarked pot sherds which did not resemble the much thinner and well-made pottery of the Late Prehistoric period. The pottery they were finding more closely resembles Leimbach Cordmarked ceramics of the Early Woodland period. One large body sherd (shown below) has the distinctive flat bottom and curvilinear application of cordmarks that is typical of the Leimbach series. So far, we have found no Late Prehistoric

period ceramics or triangular points. We have exposed two other sections of this trench and will excavate their contents to see if this feature is truly older than we think. If so, then this enclosure is something much different than anything we have encountered before. But I won't get ahead of myself; we will wait to see what turns up this week. So stay tuned.