Saturday, June 19, 2010

Midpoint of 2010 Field School

Over the past few days our student crews have been making slow but steady progress in their excavation units, even as the weather conditions become more and more oppressive.

On Thursday, one of our recent discoveries, a metal object pictured still in the ground in our Monday post, was X-rayed in the conservation laboratory at the anthropology department at UWF (considerable thanks to Dr. John Bratten and Jake Schidner). We were somewhat surprised to find that enough metal remained in the core of the rusty concretion to show a small hole what now appears to be the tang of a folding straight razor (on the right side of the picture to the left), with the thinnest portion of the blade (left side, facing down) partially corroded away, but still conserving its overall square-ended shape. This would have been a folding knife with a bone or wooden handle attached by a pin through the hole in the tang. Such objects are documented to have been common items in the 18th-century Indian trade, though the one discovered at Escambe might well have belonged to one of the Spaniards living on site as well. They are not well-known archaeologically from this period, so this specimen will be a useful contribution.

All four excavation areas (including a total of six active excavation units) are now well into mission-period (or earlier) deposits, and while we are still piecing together how the various strata and features are related to the various occupational horizons at the site, we continue to add to what we know about the site. An assortment of photos are provided below from the latter half of this fifth week of our field season.

Pictured below is visiting archaeologist Dr. Nick Honerkamp (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga) flat-shoveling in isolated mission-period midden deposits below the primary terrace on which the mission is located. Cody Poitevint and Norma Harris are also pictured.

Image below of Hallie Johnson and Danielle Dadiego operating the GPR unit under the supervision of Sarah Mitchell.

Below is an image showing radar anomalies at multiple depths starting from the surface downward within a 20 by 14 meter block cleared this year. The image was processed by Sarah Mitchell (thanks also to Dr. Victor Thompson for his aid), and shows several linear and rectangular anomalies that are as-yet unidentified. While we know there is a wall-trench structure within the block pictured below, as yet it does not correlate well with any of the anomalies shown. We will be ground-truthing this and other remote sensing survey data over the course of the summer.

Closeup view of 18th-century aqua glass with numerous tiny air bubbles resulting from the handblown manufacture process, characteristic of glass from this period.

Pictured below are Danielle Dadiego, Amelia Easterling, Wayne Abrahamson, and Jennifer Melcher holding the shade tarp aloft while Mark Vadas (on ladder) takes digital photos of the floor of a 2 x 2 m excavation unit (with posthole stains pedestaled and labeled within the unit).

The two images below show two projectile points (likely spearpoints, possibly also used as knives) found in the unit above during the last two days of this past week. Both are made from Tallahatta Quartzite, found far upriver in southern Alabama. The first point may be late Middle Archaic in age (ca. 6,900-3,900 B.C. in calibrated radiocarbon date), making it the oldest artifact yet found on the site (more than 6,000 years old).

The second, smaller point is more likely Early to Middle Woodland in age, and probably dates to the Deptford occupation at the site, which has been radiocarbon dated to approximately 170 B.C. based on charcoal found in a deep post just north of this unit. Scale in centimeters to the right.

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