Monday, June 16, 2014

CMNH Field School Returns to the Field

After a one year hiatus, the CMNH field school program is back in business.  After five successful seasons at the Heckelman site, we have returned to Burrell Orchard, where we worked in 2008.  This site is one of the most unique archaeological localities in northern Ohio.  It contains a dense accumulation of midden (refuse) and other features that date to the Late Archaic period, about 4000 years ago.   In 2008 we located and sampled the midden deposits and found a number of cooking pits and smudge pits used for smoking deer hides.  This season we will continue to excavate more of the midden deposits near the old orchard, but also carry out a systematic shovel-test survey of the remainder of the site.   To read the report of our 2008 work, use this link.

Today we began our shovel-test survey.  Things started out slowly, because we had to clear survey transects in the tall weeds and grass that cover the field.  Luckily we had some willing grass cutters in Michelle N., Char S., and Marcia R.  Here you can see Char's mowing technique.

Four shovel-test units were laid out on the N490 transect. Each unit is 50cm by 50cm in size and is excavated into the midden deposits and ends at the artifact-free subsoil.  Each crew discovered flint flakes and fire-cracked rock (FCR) in almost every unit.   Below the 25cm-thick plow zone, we found the dark, organic midden deposits containing more flakes, FCR, bits of charcoal, and some burned bone.  Only a few pieces of historic material, such as window glass, were found, suggesting that this was not a heavily used area of the Burrell family farm. The most significant find of the day was the discovery of the base of the lanceolate projectile point shown below.

These long flint knives and spear points were used by the Late Archaic inhabitants of the site for hunting and butchering deer and other animals.  We often find only the broken bases of these points, which tells us that re-tooling--the discarding of broken point bases and re-hafting of new points--was a common occurrence at this Late Archaic base camp.   We will continue our shovel-testing tomorrow and in the coming weeks in order to get a better picture of what lies below the surface of this large settlement.

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