Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our last week begins

Since our last post, two of three workdays (including one extra day on Saturday) have been cut short by downpours. Despite that, our final Monday for the 2010 season witnessed quite a bit of progress, since we are hoping to finish up as much as possible before backfilling Friday. As can be seen in the photo above, we have expanded our excavations this year considerably beyond the small number of units opened in 2009, in one case necessitating a line of three tents and an improvised tarp side-by-side. This block of excavation units traces the wall-trench we believe to have been part of the Spanish barracks, which now appears to terminate in or just before the westernmost unit, giving the building a minimum east-west dimension of roughly 10 meters (some 12 Spanish varas). Since the eastern trench may continue past our open excavations, we opened one more small unit to the east on Monday, hoping that we will either define the end of the wall-trench or confirm that it extends beyond 12 meters.

Just to the north, the excavation unit opened in the area showing earlier Archaic, Woodland and Mississippi-period occupation is finally moving down below the bulk of the overlying mission deposits (including the brick-lined trench discussed in previous posts, still being excavated at the same time). A number of new feature stains have now appeared in the eastern of two adjacent 2x2 m. units, and we have high hopes that some of these may be associated with the possible Deptford structure associated with the deep post discovered just north of these units (pictured above is Matt Tanner standing in this year's "Swiss-cheese" unit, with Linda Geary and Norma Harris in the background). Meanwhile, the brick-lined trench (pictured below) continues to be excavated toward its base, and the narrow central trench shows up clearly within the fill of the broader trench. The number of nails in this deeper trench is remarkable, and we hope that complete excavation of this small slice of the trench will provide clues as to its function.

Farther south, a new 1x1 m. unit opened next to the overlapping wall-trench structure we have been exploring this year is finally pushing down into the underlying midden deposit, which is already producing a range of artifacts, including Spanish and Native American ceramics, lead shot, and a seed bead. In the picture above, Norma Harris and Danielle Dadiego are scraping the surface of two visible deposits--yellow clay fill presumably overlying one or more wall-trench depressions, and dark brown midden representing the original occupational surface associated with these structures (note the wheelbarrows full of excavated dirt from these clearly-distinguished color zones).

Finally, during our drenching on Saturday morning, we were intrigued to see that the southwestern terminus of the brick-lined trench (see small shovel-test unit in front of Jennifer Melcher in the picture to right) is precisely in the right spot to have acted as a drain for the substantial puddle that accumulated during the rainstorm immediately north of the presumed barracks wall (to left in picture, under sandbagged plastic). While this may simply be coincidence, it might provide one further clue supporting the idea that this trench may have been related to downslope drainage adjacent to the 1760 barracks structure.

We have only four days left, so we're still hoping to find a few answers to the many questions we have generated during this year's work.

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