Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lines in the sand (and ash, bone, and pottery)

As Frank and myself opened up the new unit 26s 18w it was because of a promising shovel test pit between 26s 18w and 28s 18w.On the magnetometer reading there was an anomaly located there, which we thought might yield another kiln or industrial structure (having found one kiln we were anxious to locate another). At the bottom of the test pit we found pieces of brick and also some clay and ash. To the left is a closing picture of 28s 18w, with the shovel test pit to the north and what turned out to be Dr. Scarlett's shovel test pit from 2001. In the bottom right corner there was another ash pit, and by the end of both 28s and 26s Frank and myself would be buried under a myriad of forms relating to these puzzles. With an old shovel test pit and an ash pit found, we turned our attention to 26s 18w, north of the unit pictured in an attempted to locate a possible foundation.

During the course of our dig in the unit we found numerous ash pits, a pile of pottery and household waste, and some fence posts from the 20th century.To the left, you can see an ash pit in the top of the unit with the ash, bone, and pottery pit in the center and the shovel test pit towards the bottom. While a foundation failed to materialize we did uncover some very interesting stratigraphy, or layers of soil in the side walls. It looked as if pits has been dug, filled with ash and other debris and had nearby topsoil layered over it.

So as Frank and myself dug out the ash, bone, and pottery debris pit in the center of the unit we got about 20-25cm down. However, if we had stayed in the center of the unit we might have missed the bigger picture in 26s 18w. As this picture show, the side walls brought forth much more questions. The dark ash pit it the far wall and then towards the right the ash and clay that was at the bottom of the test pit. Also the debris at the bottom of the shovel test pit turned out to be a ash and clay pit dug into the surrounding reddish brown soil (which can be seen to the left of the picture). So what we had in this unit were four ash pits dug into the soil, maybe at different times; all of the pits were covered with the reddish brown soil. One possible answer is they were dug then covered over by nearby topsoil? Still the question remains, why dig a pit to throw ash, bone and pottery in when the ash and pottery could have been left on the surface.

In the end the soil came to the reddish brown layer with no remaining ash pits-and we had some great examples of stratigraphy.In the picture to the right you can see
e the dark ash pit suspended in the side wall, higher up than the bottom of the ash, bone and pottery pit that was in the center. Usually the older artifacts are buried deeper in the soil; however with the various heights of the deposits that basic idea is also called into question in this unit. We found some great pieces of local pottery in the central pit, two fence posts and some great differentiation in the soil of the side walls. Each day brings us a more complete understanding of the site, and even more questions regarding the uses and functions of simple features like ash pits.