Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Western Stockade?

During our first week of the 2010 season, we made several interesting, and potentially very important, discoveries. The most revealing was the exposure of two parallel lines of what appear to be stockade posts situated just to the west of the oval enclosure. One of our objectives for this season was to look for any post structures that might have been associated with the oval ditch. Numerous Early Woodland enclosures in the Ohio Valley and elsewhere commonly consisted of a ditch and earthen wall embankment. Sometimes, an embankment was surmounted by a wooden post fence or screen which left behind one or more arcs of post molds. Strangely, the post mold lines we encountered on Monday appeared to run straight and at a northeast-southwest orientation. The two post lines are spaced at three meters apart, too close to represent house walls, and do not appear to be associated with the oval enclosure. The eastern line was most clear, and a section of it is shown in the image below. Selected post molds are indicated by the arrows.

As it turns out, this eastern line corresponds with a short section of very similar posts which were recorded last season in our most northwestern unit of the oval enclosure excavation. Exposure of more post molds on Tuesday filled the gap between these two segments to reveal a six meter-long line of posts. Near the center of this line, we discovered an oval pit (Feature 10-02) which contained one Madison triangular point and a Mixter Festooned type rim sherd (shown below).

Both these artifacts are indicative of the Late Prehistoric period and most likely date to around A.D. 1350. Excavation of this pit revealed no additional post molds from the eastern line, which indicates that this pit intruded into the already present post line and, thus, post-dates it. The precise time gap between the building of the line of posts and the digging of Feature 10-02 is unknown; however, it is certain that the posts themselves would have already been removed when the pit was constructed. When this occurred, we can't yet say. In any case, this discovery provides evidence of a wooden post enclosure that appears to be independent in time from the oval enclosure. Could this be a defensive enclosure for a later village occupation? More on this in a later post.