Friday, November 11, 2011

Even Older Than We Thought

In October, I submitted five samples of charred plant material from the 2011 excavations at the Heckleman site for radiocarbon dating. Some of the results were what I expected, but others surprised me. Perhaps the most surprising was the rather ancient date on charred food(?) residue found on the interior of a large, thick pottery body section from the oval enclosure ditch (Feature 11-01). These section was found in the bottom fill layer of the ditch and is similar to sherds found within the ditch over the last two seasons. This particular sherd--carefully reconstructed by Meghan M.--appears to retain the base of a broken lug handle as shown in the image below.

The resulting radiocarbon age on the residue produced a calibrated date range of 800 BC to 670 BC. This new date places the construction of the oval enclosure some 300 to 500 years earlier than previously thought, making it one of the oldest such constructions in Ohio.   The only other enclosure of comparable age, to my knowledge, is the Dominion Land Company earthwork in Franklin County, Ohio, near Columbus.   This early age also indicates that the oval enclosure was likely constructed prior to the parallel ditches which enclose the eastern end of the promontory.  FARC excavations over the last three seasons have recovered more recent (Middle to Late Prehistoric period) artifacts in the fill of these twin ditches.   So, it seems that the Heckleman site is getting older all the time.

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