Saturday, June 13, 2009

Field School Begins at Heckleman site

This past Friday, we completed our first week of field school excavations at the Heckleman site. On Monday we began a shovel-test survey of the eastern end of the site within the large enclosure. This type of survey involves the excavation of 50 cm by 50 cm squares along east-west transects. The goal is to sample the contents of the plow zone in order to identify the spatial distribution of artifacts such as pottery, flint debitage, animal bone, fire-cracked rock, and more recent historic material. By end of the day on Tuesday our crew had excavated 16 shovel-tests and recovered good samples of artifacts. The counts of artifacts derived from this survey will be used to construct maps of artifact densities across the site. We are looking for patterns in these distributions which may help identify what activities were carried out by the prehistoric inhabitants and where these took place. In the image below, you can see small groups of students working on shovel-tests along the 490N line.

Below is a close-up view of a shovel-test in progress.

Our testing paid some immediate benefits when we uncovered several possible pit features and post molds. The small shovel-test units at these locations were expanded into larger units to exposed the suspected features and permit their excavation. I will discuss some of these discoveries in subsequent posts. In one excavation we uncovered the base of a Middle Woodland (Lowe cluster) projectile point at the base of the plow zone and just above a feature. The point can be seen in the lower right corner of the profile wall shown below.