Katie and I completed the second quarter of our unit last week, and were left with just about as many questions as we began with. We started by scraping the unit and outlining the feature, which was significantly darker than the soil that surrounded it. As we began excavating, however, we quickly noticed the darker soil start to disappear along the bottom edge of the feature. This was frustrating at first, as it left us with a shape that was completely different than the one we found in the first quadrant, and was not consistent with the feature being culturally formed.
As we continued excavating, we began finding some interesting artifacts along the top portion of the unit, where the feature dipped down much lower than the rest. Among our discoveries were the base of a wine bottle, a pipe stem, a wrought nail, and two pieces of tin-glazed ceramics which appeared to be from the same vessel as the two we found in the first quarter. All of the artifacts we found dated to the 18th Century or earlier, so despite its many mysteries, we know for certain that this feature dates to the 1700’s.
Once the quarter was completely excavated, it was time for Katie and I to come up with some possible interpretations for it. This quarter was partially excavated in 2008, so the top layer of it was missing, which may explain why the shape was not exactly the same as the first quarter, which was fully intact. This quarter dipped in at the center in the same way that the first quarter did though, so we were able to confirm that it was, in fact, culturally formed. Other than that, we were not able to come to a solid conclusion about this perplexing feature.
After a great deal of discussion and thought, our field directors decided that it would be best to close the feature for now and hold off further excavation until we have a firmer grasp on what it may be. We agreed with this decision, and on Friday we wrapped up our paperwork and very carefully covered up the remaining quarters of our feature. We spent the rest of the day helping our fellow interns work on a series of units in the middle section of our excavation area that needed to be taken down to subsoil from the colonial layer. It was a nice, relaxing day, and an excellent way to end the first chapter of my summer at Ferry Farm…
The next chapter began today, as I took on the responsibilities of the Teaching Assistant for VCU’s field school, which runs from now until the end of July. I am very excited about this new task, and I hope I can pass on to the students all of the knowledge that I have gained, as well as a bit of my love and enthusiasm for the field! It’s the beginning of a new and exciting adventure at Ferry Farm, and I look forward to sharing it with this year’s field school students!