Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spanish ceramics and wall trenches

Today our largest excavation unit to date (2 x 2 m.) was brought down on top of the wall-trench that we intersected with the 50 x 50 cm. shovel test last week. Ground penetrating radar survey in this area indicated that the wall-trench might extend both east and west from the original unit, and this proved to be accurate, as can be seen in the photo to the right (the trench contains slightly lighter-colored fill along with yellow-gray clay subsoil). The trench appears to have been excavated precisely east-west, and is roughly half a meter in width. At this stage, we will need to take particular care in excavating the trench and surrounding sediments, so that we can learn as much as possible about the structure it belonged to (such as which side was inside and which was outside, unless it turns out to be an interior partition wall).

In this same unit we were also pleased to find not one but three varieties of 18th-century Spanish ceramics, including two decorated types of tin-glazed majolica made in Mexico (Abo Polychrome and Puebla Blue on White, shown to left) as well as a sherd of lead-glazed El Morro ware. All three of these types overlap during the first half of the 18th century, precisely during the period of Mission Escambe's initial occupation. Perhaps even more than many of our earlier finds, these items provide sound confirmation of both the date and the clear Spanish association of the Native American village we have discovered. Indeed, the high frequency of European items we are finding in direct association with the wall-trench structure we are exploring makes it likely that it was one of the primary mission buildings, such as the church or friary, or perhaps a residence for members of the cavalry garrison stationed there about 1760. In any case, it places resident Spaniards and Native Americans in the same village, and exactly in the predicted location for Mission San Joseph de Escambe along its namesake river, the Escambia.

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