Features, Features, Features…

Leg of a cast iron pot found in our shell feature

Leg of a cast iron pot found in our shell feature

We returned to the field after a long weekend on Tuesday and immediately got to work excavating the shell feature that we started working on last week.  We started by removing the top layer of shell on the southern half of the feature, then started a second context for the rest of it.  Our expectations were not high for this mysterious pit, as the northern half did not have much in the way of artifacts, but this half very quickly proved us wrong as we began screening the soil.  In the first load of dirt I found a small piece of ceramic that is most likely prehistoric, and if that is the case it would be my first piece of prehistoric pottery!  Upon removing the top layer we made another discovery – a very large piece of metal sticking out of the ground.  We were very excited about this object and made several guesses as to what it might be, but due to its size we had to excavate nearly half of the feature before it finally came out!  When it did, we quickly brought it to our Site Director, Laura, who identified it as one leg of a very large cast-iron pot.  We also found some small pieces of bone, charcoal, flakes from stone tool making, a straight pin, a pipe stem, and the heel of a pipe bowl with the letters “T” and “D” on either side!

SONY DSCOn Wednesday we continued to work on the feature, taking it all the way down to the bottom where the soil was significantly different and no more artifacts could be found.  We were about halfway there when we closed up the previous day, so it did not take long to get through the rest in the morning.  In this half we found a large tooth with a clear cavity in it, a very neat black button most likely made of jet, and the tip of a skillfully crafted stone tool – another exciting first for me!  We officially wrapped up the feature shortly after lunch, and upon looking at the odd, uneven shape we came to the conclusion that the hole was likely caused by a plant, which was removed from the ground and filled in by someone a very long time ago.  Based on the artifacts we found, it is plausible to say that the hole was filled sometime in the 18th Century, as all of the artifacts we recovered from it date to that period or earlier!

SONY DSCYesterday we excavated a much smaller feature that was situated right next to our last one.  This feature was a clearly visible dark circle that was about a foot in diameter.  We began by excavating the southern half, drawing a profile view, and then excavating the northern half.  It did not take long, and when we finished the hole was a perfect circle with a flat bottom, indicating that it was likely a post mold.  A post mold is created when a post of some kind is removed from the ground and the hole is filled with soil.  Most of the artifacts that we found were small pieces of brick, charcoal and bone, as well as a couple tiny bits of ceramic.  We closed this feature fairly quickly, and I spent the rest of the day helping fellow interns Katie and Courtney clean up their unit.  I’m not sure what my next assignment will be, but I am excited to get to work on some new units as the week winds down!

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