Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A PPM with Pottery

Speaking of the little things which help us reconstruct the past, one minor but potentially important discovery was finding a rim sherd in a post mold. OK, so what? Well you must realize that we have been cross-sectioning post molds for much of our time in the field this year. This can be a tedious task for the students, since it involves excavating a little hole in a confined space, while kneeling on gravelly soil. Then if the light is not just right, you cannot see the profile easily and must contort your head and neck in various orientations until your supervisor tells you it is just a "root stain" or "rodent burrow" and then instructs you to fill the hole up. Luckily, about a third of the time, the "PPM" (Possible Post Mold) is a good one, and you get to draw a little profile of the thing on a piece of graph paper--a suitable reward for all your efforts. Even more underwhelming is the fact the usually nothing is found in the post mold. So, the discovery of diagnostic artifact in a post mold is a cause for celebration, or at least a pat on the back. This was the case with PPM 17 in unit 505N 509E.

In this medium-sized post mold, Katie M. found several fragments of an Esch Cordmarked rim sherd along with several pieces of FCR. She points to the spot in the image below.

As seen in next image, this sherd is finely cordmarked with a plain lip and slightly out-turned profile which is typical for this Middle Woodland pottery ware. Although you can't see it in this image, the cordmarking is of the S-twist variety (see previous post) which supports its placement in the Middle Woodland period.

We did get some charcoal as well which may permit a date. But why date a post mold? Well, in this case I suspect that PPM 17 may be part of a structure. If so, then discovering a rim sherd in a post mold becomes much more than just a nice break in a day of post mold digging.