Monday, July 9, 2012

Hopewell Pit Cluster

Over the past week, we have discovered a small cluster of Hopewell pits at the Heckelman site.  All contain some diagnostic artifact, such as fragments of sheet mica, Esch Cordmarked pottery, or bladelets.  One of the features most representative of this Middle Woodland occupation is Feature 12-34, which was completed today.   Under the watchful eye of intern Jamie G., students Karen L., Audrey G., and Annette N. recovered several bladelets, mica, and Middle Woodland pot sherds from this medium-sized basin.  A bit more surprising was the discovery of burned--but not calcined--deer bone, hickory and walnut nutshell, and even several carbonized seeds and fruit pits. These are the best traces of the Middle Woodland diet found so far.  As shown in the image below, this pit also contained a significant amount of fire-cracked rock and charcoal, but no sign of a fire within the feature.  So, the burned material may represent the cleanings from a cooking or hearth pit used nearby. 

Pit clusters like this most likely reflect the daily activities of a Hopewell family that stayed at the site for a few weeks up to a season.  Several clusters of post molds found nearby may represent the remains of their structures.   Nearby pits--as yet unexcavated--may hold even more valuable clues. We should know soon.

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