Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Overlapping Pits, Points, and Pottery

In an earlier post, I described the large magnetic anomaly in unit 508N 515E and the cluster of overlapping pits that made up its source. One of these pits, Feature 10-14, contained diagnostic Middle Woodland artifacts such as the base of a Snyders point--a distinctive, corner-notched projectile point made of Flint Ridge chert--,and a Flint Ridge bladelet, the small flint cutting tool that is a hallmark of Ohio Hopewell. Such artifacts typically date to the first few centuries A.D. Careful excavation revealed that Feature 10-14 intruded into Feature 10-20, a pit of similar form but considerably older. Artifacts of clearly Early Woodland affiliation were recovered from Feature 10-20, including rather thick, coarsely cordmarked pottery and a small, stemmed projectile point. The image below shows one of these thick sherds with overlapping cordmarks on its exterior and characteristic coil break on the upper edge.

This early form of pottery was made by building up coils of clay paste one on top of the other. Upon breaking, the sherds often separate along the joins between the coils. Such coil "breaks" are telltale markers of Early Woodland pottery in northern Ohio. The projectile point, shown below, is missing its tip but is still a good Early Woodland diagnostic. The juxtaposition of two pits of such significantly different ages would seem to be an unlikely occurrence but is in fact not uncommon on such an intensively occupied site as Heckleman.