Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shovel Testing North of Mission Escambe

Shovel testing crew
This weekend a small crew of current and incoming UWF graduate students under the leadership of Michelle Pigott conducted shovel testing at a previously unexplored location near McDavid, Florida, finding Native American ceramics in all three tests.  The site is being explored as a prospective location for the mid-18th-century Upper Creek (Tallapoosa) town called Los Tobases (the Tawasas), which was in existence at least during the 1730s, which seems to have been abandoned after the establishment of Mission Escambe a few leagues to the south in 1741, and which was later reoccupied by a group of some 30 men and their wives and children between 1759 and 1761, after a formal 1758 peace treaty with the Spanish.  Abandoned during the 1761 outbreak of hostilities that resulted in the burning of Mission Escambe and all other Spanish out-settlements north of Pensacola, the town does not appear on historic maps, but its location can be predicted based on a combination of distance descriptions and geographic features.

Three shovel tests were excavated by the crew following a previous day of heavy rains, and even though the riverside terrace soil was sandy, it nonetheless proved difficult to sift, particularly for one test unit.  Regardless, all three tests produced evidence for Native American occupation dating to several time periods, including both prehistoric Woodland and Mississippi period (Pensacola culture) potsherds.  Although final diagnosis awaits artifact washing and analysis, preliminary inspection in the field indicates that some of the sherds likely date to the colonial period, perhaps even belonging to Los Tobases.  Even if we were lucky enough to find the Creek town on our first day of fieldwork in the target zone, only additional testing will provide the evidence we need to evaluate whether or not the sherds recovered belong to the mid-18th-century Creeks known to have resided in that vicinity.  This summer's field school at Mission Escambe will likely include additional testing at this newly-discovered site, since the residents of Los Tobases were nearest neighbors of Escambe, and knew each other personally for at least a couple of years.

More pictures of our fieldwork are below.  The student crew included Molino fieldschool veterans Michelle Pigott and Katie Brewer, along with newer students Jen Knutson, Melissa Maynard, Katherine Sims, and Jillian Utter (with professor John Worth behind the camera).

Jillian, Melissa, Michelle, Jen, and Katherine at the first test (ST#1).

Melissa and Jillian excavating ST#2.

Michelle examining riverbank profile soils using the Munsell chart.

Michelle, Jillian, and Melissa preparing ST#2 for photos.

Jen and Katherine forcing wet sand through the screen.

Katherine and Jen taking final measurements for ST#1.