Sunday, July 10, 2011

Of Points, Pottery, Pits, Posts, and Middens

The archaeological record of the Heckleman site is proving to be quite complex. On several excavation unit floors we have detected broad areas of stained soil containing FCR, charcoal, burned animal bone fragments, and a few flakes. These stains, which have indistinct and irregular edges, appear to be the remains of thin sheets of cultural debris called middens that were deposited during one or more groups of prehistoric inhabitants. We examined one area of midden staining more closely in unit 505N 512E this week and were surprised to find below a large pit feature, Feature 11-39. This feature was also very indistinct but is visible in the following image in which the contrast has been increased.

As we removed the fill from the southern half of this feature, Allison Z. found a complete Early Woodland stemmed point. This small, thick point is similar to the type called Leimbach Stemmed in northern Ohio. It is made from the distinctive Flint Ridge chert from eastern Ohio.

As we wound down our work on Friday, Marcia R. and Allison uncovered a large fragment of a Leimbach Cordmarked vessel just a few centimeters south of where the point was found. The vessel fragment can be seen to the right of the point and at the edge of the pit in the image below.

The discovery of sherds of similar ceramics in midden deposits nearby suggest that the latter are contemporary with Early Woodland features like 11-39 and were deposited after the filling of these pits.

In all these areas, numerous post molds and other features have been detected within, or penetrating through, the midden staining, which indicates that structures were constructed after the midden deposits were laid down. As yet, no clear post mold patterns of houses or other structures have been recognized; but the sheer volume of post molds is impressive. Did some of this building activity take place during all three occupations or mostly during the final one in the Late Prehistoric period? Are there any Middle Woodland structures out there? I don't think we will answer that question during this field season, and perhaps only after we have time to sort out the hundreds of post molds by shape and size to look for recognizable patterns. But who knows? We still have a week to go!