Monday, June 15, 2009

New clues

Despite relentless heat over the past days in the field (a local thermometer measured over 94 degrees this afternoon, and there was little cloud cover or breezes), we are making great progress in expanding our map grid and laying in new shovel tests closer and closer to the bluff edge overlooking the river floodplain. Students have been working hard and honing their new skills in excavation, sifting, and mapping, not to mention equipment maintenance and repair along the way.

Today we made a very promising discovery in a shovel test located in a level area near the edge of the bluff. Not only did we find half a dozen Native American potsherds, several of which display characteristics consistent with 18th-century Apalachee Indian pottery known from previous Spanish presidio excavations near Pensacola, but in the same unit we found not one but two tiny white glass seed beads, commonly found as trade goods on sites of this period. While these finds are not definitive evidence that we are entering the outskirts of the San Joseph de Escambe mission village, they certainly give us hope that we are moving in the right direction. Tomorrow and over the course of the next few days, we should be able to open up a number of additional testpits in this area, providing a larger sample that may help confirm the age and identity of these early finds.

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