Katie and I kept busy last week as we wrapped up our first month of excavation at Ferry Farm! On Tuesday we finally finished up the unit that we started on the previous Saturday, which took a little longer than expected as we had to stop mid-way through to map a trail of shells that passed along the southern half of the unit. There was no soil change associated with these shells so we did not feel it was necessary to excavate them separately. However, we did take especially thorough notes, photograph it, and sketch the unit and the one directly west of it to make sure we did not lose any information as we proceeded. After we finished excavating that unit, we moved on to take down a few more. Our excavation is a bit scattered at this point, as we are working around features that have been uncovered in a few different locations on the site. To better explain what we have been up to recently, I want to first take a moment to discuss our excavation this season.
We are currently working in the same excavation area that we were last season. Last summer we opened up this area one unit at a time, starting with the topsoil and working all the way down to subsoil. At the end of the season the southern half had been completely excavated, but the northern half was left only partially excavated, with several potential features exposed at the top of the Colonial layer (Ferry Farm has three main layers of soil – 20th Century, antebellum, and colonial). This year we began by removing the exposed features and planned on taking the remaining units down to subsoil after they were gone. However, as we began to take the units down, more features started appearing about halfway through the Colonial layer. Each time this occurred, we had to stop digging and start excavating the units surrounding it to see how large the feature was and look for any other features that may relate to it. As a result, our entire excavation area has been taken down to two different levels within the same layer of soil. Once all of them are at relatively the same place, we will proceed to excavate the feature and then wrap up the units. Meanwhile, fellow interns Courtney and Cate have also just begun excavating a quarter of a Smokehouse cellar that was discovered a few seasons ago, which is very exciting and should result in many interesting finds!
Katie and I worked on a few different units last week, taking each down to the level that the nearest feature was at and checking for any additional features, then stopping excavation and moving on to the next unit. Some of these units held quite a few treasures, including several large pieces of pipe stem, some lovely tin-glazed, porcelain, redware, and whiteware ceramics, glass, nails, and some pieces of an animal’s jawbone with the teeth still inside! The last unit we worked on was the one that formerly held the shell feature and supposed post mold (now properly identified as an old STP) that Allen and I excavated. As we got down to our stopping point in this layer, we noticed a change in the texture and color of the soil in the eastern half of the unit, as well as a significant cluster of charcoal in the center of it. We designated this a feature and will excavate the unit next to it this week to see if it extends further to the east. I am excited to see what we might find, and I am hoping it turns out to be something great!