Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Deep Post and A Tight Squeeze

One of the most perplexing features this season has been Feature 11-03. This feature was recognized last week in unit 502N 503E as a faint gray-brown stain with rather diffuse margins. Early stages of excavation indicated that it was a shallow midden stain, since the most evident staining extended only a few centimeters into the subsoil. The discovery of the bladelet fragment (see earlier post) gave us hope of something significant here, and further excavation revealed, not a midden layer, but rather a medium-sized pit feature. As the cross-section continued to increasingly greater depths, we realized that this was not a pit but a deep post mold. A large, cordmarked pot sherd was found in the fill about halfway down, but the feature kept getting deeper and deeper.

At 100 cm bd the fill changed abruptly to a consolidated mass of sand, gravel, and charcoal fragments unlike anything I had seen before in a post mold. As I picked away at this sediment cast (shown below), I found a few pieces of FCR and a thick plain-surfaced pot sherd. I continued to remove the cast down to 120 cm bd and found another thick sherd.

By now, there was barely room for me to fit in the excavation pit. (I needed to step into this hole myself once I lost Allison, who fit nicely in the confined space and didn't mind bending over for long periods of time.) Anyway, I had had enough and used the 1-inch soil corer to see how much of this post molds was left. To my surprise, the core revealed another 23 cm of cemented fill! I decided to take the rest of the fill out with the "long-handled trowel" (you veterans know what I mean).

So what is this thing? It looks like another large post of the kind discovered in two "post pits" last season. Unlike these features, this year's version is located outside the oval enclosure ditch; however, its pottery contents places within the Early Woodland period and likely close in time to the use of this enclosure. And what of the weird sediment cast? Can't yet say, but stay tuned.