Saturday, July 5, 2014

Finding the Clay Surface

This past Thursday, we found the base of the midden in unit 500N 512E at about 55 cm bd.  In the process, we uncovered the unusual yellow clay layer first discovered in 2008.  At that time we thought this clay was the natural subsoil that underlies the midden across the site.  Instead, it turned out to be a cultural surface resulting from the human occupation of the site.  We know this because beneath the yellow clay is an organic soil stratum which contains prehistoric cultural material.  We are not yet sure how this clay layer was created.  It may be the backdirt from digging deep pits dug nearby that penetrated the natural sandy clay subsoil.  But it may instead represent a deliberately created floor or working surface.  If so, then its presence shows that the Late Archaic inhabitants of this site took time to modify their settlement in a way that would last some time.  The image below shows the clay stratum and a large pit feature that appears to cut through this layer.

Next door, in unit 498N 512E, the dark organic midden soil was still being encountered.  Deer bone and antler, and carbonized nutshells are being found in abundance.  Among the finds was the base of a large flint drill.  On Friday, a drill tip was found near where the base turned up.  Not surprisingly, the two fragments fit together to form a long tool that measures about 12 cm (4.5 in) in length as shown below.  This exceptional tool was most likely complete when lost or stored at the Late Archaic campsite.

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