Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Pit and a Post

Happy Independence Day!

Last week we completed the excavation of Feature 10-13. You will remember from my last post that this is one of the features that was clearly detected by the magnetic survey. As expected, it did contain a significant amount of FCR but also quite a bit of rather thick, cordmarked pottery. I suspected that these sherds belonged to the Early Woodland occupation of the site, since they did resemble much of the pottery taken from the oval enclosure ditch this season and last season. This cultural assignment was confirmed when Eric discovered a complete, contracting stemmed projectile point at the very bottom of the feature. The point and a representative pot sherd are shown below. The point is typical of the Early Woodland Leimbach point type found in this area of

northern Ohio or more generally like a thick version of the Adena Stemmed type of the middle Ohio Valley. This is a good diagnostic artifact and appears to place Feature 10-13 with the Early Woodland folks at Heckleman. What is even more interesting is the fact that this point, and several more pottery sherds like the one pictured, were found in a pocket of dark soil that appeared to extend below the base of the basin-shaped pit feature. In profile, this zone looked like a large post mold. Once the feature was completely removed and we could examine the actual shape of the pit, as shown in the image below, the large post hole was evident.

Since no remains of the wooden post were found, it must have been removed in antiquity. The large pit above the post hole may have been dug to remove the large post and afterword it was filled with refuse. Note the asymmetrical shape of the post hole in the image above. One margin inclines gradually to the northeast. Perhaps the hole was dug this way to facilitate the erection of the heavy post or perhaps the side wall of the post hole was damaged during the removal of the post. In either case, it appears that Feature 10-13 was the place where a large wooden post was erected and then taken down during the Early Woodland period. Such an event would be expected within a enclosure like our oval ditch feature. Large, isolated posts were often used to mark some significant point on the landscape, possibly for making astronomical alignments, or commemorating a significant event or personage. We really don't know. This discovery does not prove that the oval enclosure functioned as a ceremonial or ritual construction, but it does give us something to think about as we continue to explore this amazing site.