Thursday, May 24, 2012

Getting closer

Headless railroad spike uncovered in surface deposits.
Another fine day in the field, and all our excavation units are making great progress as the students become more and more familiarized with field procedures.  Most units are still in the midst of the uppermost layer of late 19th-century sawmill deposits, marked by the appearance of a range of debris including broken glass, nails and other metal fragments, brick fragments, a stoneware ginger beer bottle sherd, a button, as well as more than a few fragments of coal and slag, which are littered across the surface of the site.  Today one unit alone produced two iron railroad spikes, which when combined with those found previously suggest that we may be near the location of the small railroad discovered by UWF graduate student Joe Grinnan to have been operated by Molino Mills in this vicinity after the Civil War.  A low berm running diagonally across the site has long been suspected to be a sawmill-era feature, but the frequency of railroad spikes and coal and slag may provide additional support for this possibility.  The good news is that this material is largely confined to the upper layers of the site, and there appears to have been little to no disturbance to the pristine 18th-century mission deposits in most areas (excepting the well and brick-filled drain trench explored in 2011).
Two adjoining sherds of Playa Polychrome majolica.
 Our small shovel test in the area between Areas B and C has apparently penetrated mission deposits, however, and has begun producing artifacts from the mid to late 18th century, including Spanish majolica, a glass bead, and a flake of chert, possibly from the retouch of a gunflint (pictured to above and below).  Nearby units also produced Apalachee potsherds and a sherd of Spanish lead-glazed coarse earthenware.  Such finds should become more frequent as we begin to approach the occupational floors and architectural features associated with Mission Escambe's residents.
A black glass seed bead and a tiny chert flake.

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