Saturday, July 14, 2012

Eight weeks down, just two to go

Long view of F. 122, with Wesley and Michelle.
With just two weeks remaining in our 2012 field season, the field crew at Molino is doubling down on their open excavation units, documenting and preparing some for backfilling, and finally beginning to excavate wall trenches and other features in other units.

View to north of Block 2, showing 2 E-W and 4 N-S trenches.
East profile of excavated F. 122 under clay cap.
Wesley removes clay from the a wall trench.
In Area C, the east-west wall trench initially discovered in 2010 as Feature 122 has now been traced in both directions to a full length of 13 meters, suggesting that it likely belonged to a large structure in the mission, possibly even the church.  Full exposure of a six-meter section of this trench this year also shows a total of four north-south wall trenches intersecting it in this area (along with the parallel Feature 19 trench nearly a meter and a half to the north).  Toward the end of this week, we have finally begun to excavate sections of this wall trench, showing its profile, or cross-section, and students are removing the last bits of overlying yellow clay from the other trenches so that they can all be carefully dissected in order to reveal which ones came first, or whether some or all were contemporaneous with one another (which seems unlikely given their spacing).  At this point, in our fourth year of work at the site, we still believe that these trenches likely reflect multiple rebuilding episodes concentrated in one specific area, all of which were perhaps cleaned out and filled with a thick layer of dense yellow clay as part of an overall rebuilding episode which began in June of 1760 under the direction of Spanish engineer Phelipe Feringan Cort├ęs, with the assistance of forced laborers from presidio San Miguel de Panzacola.  Nevertheless, until we can clarify building sequences and find some corners, details about these building episodes remain elusive.

From Feature 122: an iron fishhook, or just a bent nail?
This week was unfortunately interrupted by frequent rainstorms, which combined with our crew's site visit to the UWF field school at Arcadia Mill and a demo of archaeo-botanical flotation on the UWF campus for all field school students, limited our overall excavation time at Molino.  At this point we are in a race for time, combining careful and thorough documentation with our desire to complete as much as we can before backfilling at the end of the month.  This is often the time when some of the most important discoveries are made, so please check back for updates!
The Molino crew visits the Arcadia Mill field school site.
Leslie Raymer works with students at flotation.
Patty with Dr. Elizabeth Benchley and volunteer Alesia Hoyle.

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