Saturday, May 24, 2014

One week down, nine to go.

Cody clears debris off the brick floor.
A snapshot of the cleaned brick floor on the bluff slope.
Students finished out their first four-day week at Mission Escambe today, having opened and made progress in four 1 x 2 meter excavation units and one 50 x 50 cm stratigraphic shovel test.  All units are still largely within the 19th-century sawmill deposits associated with Molino Mills (1866-1884), located immediately below the site on the lower terrace next to the Escambia River swamp.  The shovel test being excavated on the slope below the mission by Cody and Melissa gave us quite a surprise today, however, when it bottomed out on a laid brick floor about two meters below the upper terrace, and somewhat over a meter or so above the lower terrace where the mill was located.  This exact same kind of brick floor was discovered on the floor of the mill to the east in a previous field season, but at a lower elevation, on which the main floor of the sawmill seems to have been situated (and at the level of two machine foundations, one brick and one made of huge granite blocks, both with large iron screw anchors).  We don't know what this upper floor was used for, but the amount of burned debris immediately on the surface of the brick floor dates it to the 1884 fire that destroyed Molino Mills.

Jodi pauses from flat shoveling.
The rest of the excavation units are steadily pushing downward toward their respective goals, including two units in Area C designed to find evidence for two parallel wall-trenches discovered in 2012, believed to have been part of the same structure, with a width of 7.5 meters on the east-west axis.  Two other units in Area E are laid in around last season's discovery of a shallow burned clay floor in a rich midden deposit with a higher density of Spanish debris than found in any other area of the site so far.  We hope to discover whether the clay floor is associated with some sort of mission structure, and to that end we hope we will find one or more wall trenches below the midden in these units (along with further artifactual evidence for the function of this central area of the site).

We now have all areas of the site set up for our summer field school, including several dry-screening areas and a waterscreening station as in previous years.  The pictures below show a range of activities this week, all of which will resume next Tuesday after the well-deserved Memorial Day break (thanks to Jen Knutson for sharing some of her candid pictures, supplementing Dr. Worth's images).

Kayla and Kandiss flat-shovel their root-filled units.
Nicole and Kristin work on shovel-tossing dirt from their unit while Jillian trims roots.
Melissa and Cody take depth measurements in their shovel test.

Jen cuts roots while Kayla and Chelsea work on cleaning up walls.

Ericha looks on while Kandiss and Michelle straightening unit walls.
Kristin and Nicole work on keeping up their all-important fieldbooks.
Melodi and Olivia dry-screen dirt from their unit.
Cody and Melissa inspect waterscreening results from their shovel test.
Lunchtime at the Molino fairgrounds, with Jodi, Kristin, Nicole, Dr. Worth, and Kandiss.

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