Sunday, July 18, 2010

Following the Stockade

During our last two weeks of the 2010 field season at the Heckleman site, we had several tasks to complete. One of the most important of these was one last ditch effort (no pun intended) to trace the stockade lines eastward. You will remember from earlier posts that in Week 1 we uncovered two distinct lines of large post molds, which I interpret as stockade posts. In the map below, both lines are clearly visible running obliquely across the western end of our excavation.

The inner or east line was traced for about 12 meters to the northeast, at which point it crossed the fill of the oval enclosure ditch (Feature 09-18, shaded in gray above). A much shorter section of the outer or west line was exposed. In the image below both lines are marked by orange survey flags and indicated by arrows; green arrows show the western line, white the east line, and the location of Feature 10-02 is indicated by the red arrow (my most colorful image yet!).

We cross-sectioned short sections of posts in each stockade line, and they proved to be rather large and deeply set. The posts of the east line (shown below) are slightly larger than the west line and range from 7 to 10 cm in diameter and extend from 23 cm to 40 cm below datum.

To trace the east line even farther, I decided to excavate a one by ten meter test trench running northward from the 520N, 520E stake. We had some assistance in this task from students and CMNH Education Division staff as part of a two-day class in Archaeology. These young folks and their instructors: Mark, Nancy, and Char, shovel-shaved some of the hardest, driest, and dustiest plow zone soil we have encountered all year from this trench and made our job much easier (see image below). In the process they found a good quantity of chert flakes and other debitage, FCR, and even one triangular point, which probably dates to around AD 1400.

The point of this trench-digging was to intersect one or both of the stockade lines as they made their way to the northeast. Despite our best efforts, we could not confirm the presence of either stockade line within the trench, although we did exposed several scattered posts and two pit features. One of these small pit features contained a bladelet fragment and a plain-surfaced pot sherd, both are indicative of the Middle Woodland occupation of the Heckleman site. The other pit contained nothing. I should note that it is difficult to identify even a distinct line of post molds in a one-meter wide trench, but I gave it a shot. But this will give us something to shoot for again next season.