Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One Final Discovery

Last Friday, we completed our field season at the Heckleman site and closed our excavations. Our landowner was kind enough to backfill most of our units with his tractor and blade as shown below.

During this last week, we did make one interesting discovery. We excavated a portion of a pit feature in one of the 3 x 3 meter units opened a few days earlier. I was hoping that this pit feature was like several of the others we had encountered nearby which were rather shallow. We did not want to get bogged down in a deep feature that would require us to complete the work in the following week.

Luckily this pit (Feature 09-31) was also rather shallow, but unlike its neighbors, it contained a lot of cultural material that included much FCR, a large slate core, burned bone, and abundant charcoal. Most surprising though was the discovery of a siltstone gorget (ornament?) that was broken into three pieces. As shown below, the gorget fragments were easily reassembled.

It is made from a reddish siltstone with two small holes that were drilled from both faces. The maker of this artifact may have cracked it during the drilling of these holes, or the gorget could have been deliberately broken prior to being deposited in the pit feature. In any case, these enigmatic artifacts are typical of the Early to Late Woodland periods in northern Ohio; however the asymmetrical form of this piece is unusual. Perhaps it was meant to resemble or symbolize the triangular preforms or 'cache blades' found in Woodland burial features or ceremonial deposits.

The following image compares the Heckleman gorget with a cache blade from the Middle Woodland Pumpkin site on Sandusky Bay. Hopewell societies occasionally produced effigies of bear canines and other artifacts out of stone or bone, so perhaps my explanation is possible.

See the Plain Dealer article and video report on our project!