Excavation Update: Group Three

This week’s update on the progress of excavation group one comes courtesy of ANTH60a student, Emilia Boess. Emilia is a Brandeis University undergraduate student who has not yet declared a major.

This week, Group 3 arrived at the site, and after grabbing our supplies and uncovering our unit to reveal layer 102C, we realized we had forgot the most essential item: root clippers. At this point, our unit needed maintenance; the extensive amount of gravel, large rocks, and roots made it extremely difficult to trowel. We soon learned that clearing the unit entirely, however, was nearly impossible — eventually, “can someone pass me the root clippers?” became our overused catchphrase. 

Our unit, so far, has uncovered a relatively strange layer. 102C appears to be rather sandy and gravelly, especially in comparison to the other units dug in Operation 1 at the front of the farm house. It has also revealed a mixture of yellow and dark soil, with a random dispersion of ashy patches, concentrated in the center of the unit, but found also throughout. At this point of the excavation, we were looking for hard edges that may indicate a potential feature. But with none identified so far, we continued to trowel away…

We quickly came across a piece of porcelain found in the center/southwest region of our unit. Although there is no picture to accompany the find, it significantly resembles a piece of porcelain found in the previous layer (102B), etched with the same design. This great start might have been nothing more than that, because for several rounds of sifting, we found nothing but rocks, clipped roots, and some charcoal, all of which are common finds at this point.

Erik and Jennifer, members of excavation group three, working at the screen
Erik and Jennifer, members of excavation group three, working at the screen

Nevertheless, the soil appeared to change, becoming a far more consistently dark brown color. The yellow soil disappeared, and although we continued to find the occasional ashy patch, we were content in claiming that the gravelly unidentified soil was gone. This meant there was no feature to be identified, and although this fact was disappointing, it was a relief to dig in soil with a much lower rock content. Unfortunately, we continued with a few more artifact-less sifts.

Our archaeological luck improved, however, and we eventually came across a large piece of brick, some earthenware, and two pieces of metal, identified as machine cut nails. The metal brought with it some rusty, red patches of soil that disappeared with the next swipe of the trowel. The most exciting find, however, came with the last sift of the day. It uncovered a piece of a broken-off pipestem, the artifact depicted in the picture below.

Pipestem found in Unit 102 (Op. 1) by excavation group three
Pipestem found in Unit 102 (Op. 1) by excavation group three

It is with the pipestem find that we decided we should have considered the new darkened soil to be a new layer, for it appears to reveal some artifacts that may be older than those previously found. In addition, the porcelain, brick, earthenware, and pipestem seem to be items coherent with the contents of a house, which proves to be consistent with the bunkhouse theory. So with that, and the last 5 minutes of class, we started the new artifact bag and officially opened layer 102D.

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