Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Week six begins last half of field school

Panorama of the excavations taken atop a ladder in Area H.

Excavations at Mission Escambe continue this week, marking the beginning of our last five weeks this summer.  Starting last Friday, we've actually had three successive midday rainouts, only the most recent of which (today) didn't result in a complete drenching for the entire crew.  Nevertheless, progress continues in all open units, including two units recently opened in Areas E and G (a new area with our newest clay floor), with yet another new unit just laid in today in Area H (our most recent area, characterized by a clay floor discovered while tracing out the stockade wall southward along the eastern margins of the site). 
View to north of stockade trench truncating a clay floor.
It now appears that the substantial clay "floor" feature that we have been chasing in Area C since 2009 is not alone at the site, and that we have another one of undetermined extent somewhat to the north of Area C (now called Area G), and a third one directly east of Area C (now called Area H).  The last floor feature currently holds the most potential for revealing the architectural context of these clay layers, since not only was this floor truncated by the excavation of what we believe is the 1760 stockade wall trench (Feature 512 above), but it also apparently had two discrete projections northward along its northern margin (Features 511 and 513 above) which appear to be large postholes, possibly forming a wall line for the anticipated structure atop the clay floor.  These postholes were obviously set in at the same time as the basin for the yellow clay floor was excavated, since the clay is continuous between the two, so we hope further excavations of these features will tease out important details.

Soil coring helps us identify the extent of yellow clay here.
In order to find the lateral boundaries of this clay floor, Katie Brewer and Michelle Pigott (pictured, left) have excavated a number of 1/2 inch diameter soil cores in the vicinity, demonstrating first that the clay floor here is isolated from those in Area C and G some 20 meters to the west, and that it apparently measures about 6-7 meters east-west and perhaps 2 meters north-south.  Based on these measurements, we have laid in another 1x2 meter unit on the prospective northwest corner of this clay floor in order to see if there are more postholes or other architectural traces that will reveal the nature of this structure and its apparent prepared clay floor.

Lead cloth seal showing traces of the iron wire it clamped.
Among several interesting finds over the past few days, one that sparked considerable excitement was the lead seal discovered Friday in Area C, pictured to right.   The seal is the second one found at Mission Escambe, the first one having been found during 2009 excavations in Area B.  This one is very similar to the last one, including numbers probably denoting the number of inches comprised in a particular bolt of cloth, as well as a possible manufacturer's name on the top, which on both seals began with the initial "L."  These may represent seals from bolts of English cloth brought to the site either as illicit goods bought by the 1757-1761 governor of Spanish Pensacola, Miguel Roman de Castilla y Lugo, or through trade with the Upper Creek Indians, who are known to have frequented the site during this period, and who also traded with the English from Georgia and South Carolina.

Finally, during the rush to finish up excavations and gather paperwork and equipment before the impending rainstorm arrived early this afternoon, as a new excavation level was beginning to be dug in the newest unit in Area E, an iron horseshoe identified last Friday was removed as part of a new excavation level beginning to be dug in the sawmill-era deposits in our newest unit in Area E.  The video below shows the removal of the horseshoe (and the sounds of the birds and other student activity going on at the same time are notable as well, though the video quality is lower resolution here than the original).

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