Saturday, June 13, 2009

Finding the First Features

As I mentioned in my last post, our shovel-test survey discovered several prehistoric features. Interestingly, two of these features were not identified by the geophysical surveys conducted by Jarrod Burks. That does not mean that Jarrod did a poor survey, it just indicates that not all the features at the site contain material that is sufficiently magnetic to be detected by his instruments.

One of our previously unknown pits is Feature 09-02 which was excavated by Glen Boatman's crew. The cross-section of this feature (shown below) revealed it to be a rather deep pit with several layers of fill. It contained a nice sample of grit-tempered pottery with rather fine cordmarking. Such pottery is called Esch Cordmarked and appears to be the typical ceramic made by the Middle Woodland inhabitants of the site. In some respects, this pottery resembles McGraw Cordmarked which is the most common type of ceramic found on Ohio Hopewell sites in southern Ohio.

In my last post, I mentioned the shovel-test with a projectile point in the wall. Beneath the point, Jim Bower's crew found another apparent Middle Woodland feature (Fea. 09-03). They have just begun the profile of this feature but already have found one complete Flint Ridge bladelet and several sherds of Esch Cordmarked pottery. Once Jim's crew troweled the floor, we noticed a distinct line of post molds running across the feature and into the southeast corner of the unit. This line extended across the dark fill of the feature and showed up clearly in cross-section as shown in the image below. The observation that these post molds penetrate Fea. 09-03 demonstrates that the posts were set sometime after Feature 09-03 was filled. We will try to trace this post line to see if it is part of a structural outline (house?) or perhaps part of a stockade barrier.

In order to test the accuracy of the magnetic survey, we placed a 3m by 3m unit over Anomaly 100 identified by Jarrod Burks. Once the plow zone was removed, a very large pit feature was revealed, as shown below.

We have just begun the cross-sectioning of this pit, called Fea. 09-04, but have already exposed distinct lenses of ash and charcoal as well as bits of fish and mammal bone, flint debitage, and fire-cracked rock. One small pottery rim sherd bears an incised decoration typical of Late Prehistoric period pottery made by the Sandusky Tradition inhabitants of the region. Thus, it seems that this feature relates to the late period village occupation of the site, even though this feature lies outside (to the south) of the oval-shaped enclosure detected in the magnetic survey. We are quite excited about the subsistence evidence and other information that will come from this apparent trash pit.

So, all-in-all, this was a very productive week thanks to the hard work of our field staff and first-week field school crew.