Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The return of the heat

With temperatures approaching 100 degrees today, students still continue to make progress in excavations at Mission Escambe. The brick-filled trench discovered last year has finally (and reluctantly) begun to yield up more definitive clues as to its age. Following careful excavation, photography, and the creation of a detailed scale map (pictured to left, drawn by Alesia Hoyle and Rachel Mead), the bricks are gradually being removed and cleaned in the field in order to determine whether any maker's marks are present which might help pin down a date for the feature. Finally, today, a large part of a brick appeared within the feature showing a portion of the familiar "J. GONZALEZ" name present on many of the bricks from the nearby late 19th-century sawmill's ruins (pictured below). This makes it very likely that the entire brick feature post-dates the 1830s (when the bricks began to be produced). We still have to confirm whether the deeper portion of the trench, with double rows of parallel nails marking some sort of wooden structure underneath, is also a 19th-century feature, or perhaps originally constructed during the mission period.

We are also continuing to trace the wall-trench structure we believe to be the cavalry barracks, though as yet we still have no unequivocal confirmation of either the west or east walls of the structure. Nevertheless, we have opened a new excavation unit over another pit feature that showed up in a corner of one of our 2010 units, just south of the wall trench, and this pit is now quite clearly defined as a rounded pit perhaps a meter in diameter (photo to right). With continued work we hope to discover whether this pit relates to some architectural feature or some other activity such as simple trash disposal. At another end of this wall trench, a large and partially-charred bone from a deer was uncovered (pictured below), providing additional evidence for foodways (and the deerskin trade) at the site.

We have also been pleased to welcome students from two other summer field schools in the past few days, including the UWF Forensic Anthropology Field School led by Dr. Joanne Curtin, as well as the UWF Campus Field School, led by Dr. Ramie Gougeon. Pictures from these visits, as well as other shots from the past few days, are shown below.

Above, Patty McMahon shows ongoing work to members of the UWF Forensic Anthropology Field School.

Students from the UWF Campus Field School listening to Colin Bean explaining current excavation strategies at the presumed barracks structure.

Patty McMahon photographs the profile of a bisected feature.

Two mendable sherds of Guadalajara Polychrome, a colonial Mexican ceramic type dating to the 18th century.

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