Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And sometimes, we get very lucky

In recent days we've been working on filling in some of the gaps in our shovel test survey in the wooded area of the survey area, and since we're digging our shovel tests on a 20-meter interval, on any given day there is a fairly high priority that we'll place a shovel test right in-between anything important. Today however, we got lucky.

In one of our shovel tests we detected some odd soil colorations with linear boundaries, so we decided to excavate them carefully, and have discovered what appears to be the corner of a wall trench structure. While it is somewhat difficult to see in the photo the area of lighter colored soil in the center of the pit is the wall trench, and this lighter soil extends into the southeastern corner of the shovel test. On the western edge is a semi-circular darker area which is likely the corner post, and along the southern edge of the unit is a somewhat more dense area of soil which is likely the interior of the structure and may be related to a dirt floor.

As we excavated this we turned up a very nice square hand-wrought nail (above), which strengthened our hypothesis that these stains in the soil were structural remnants, and furthermore that the structure was almost certainly constructed using European-style construction techniques (as opposed to Native American). Based on these initial results, it appears we may have gotten very lucky in placing this shovel test precisely in the corner of one of the buildings of the mission. Many times, archaeologists search for days and weeks to find wall lines and trace them out to find building corners, but we appear to have found a corner right at the start. We'll be exploring this structure further in coming days.

Additionally, we found some more pieces of Native American ceramic fragments which also support our belief that we have likely located the remains of Mission Escambe. The rim fragment below is a type known as Ocmulgee Fields which was being produced by the Apalachee Indians around the time the mission was occupied.

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