Today we had some really exciting finds! But to start Sam and I began by finishing up Unit 3 for this semester. We took it down to the base of the second plowzone and scraped and took a final picture of it. At this level we still found a few pieces of ceramic.
JJ and Ella continues their work in Unit 6 on Feature 11. They spent most of the day removing the matrix around the feature. While removing the matrix they did find a quartz projectile point and a biface in the edge of the feature.
In Unit 4 Ben scraped the unit for the picture and then began mapping Feature 12.
After finishing up in Unit 3 I moved down to Unit 13 to help Robert with paperwork while DuVal continues to excavate the unit and the features in it. The base of a large projectile point was found in the unit and an entire projectile point was also found! The point was in perfect condition! DuVal excavated the corner of Feature 4 that was exposed in Unit 13.
It's always hard to get back in the swing of things after a long break, but we didn’t let post-spring break lethargy slow us down this Friday! As usual, we began by removing the water that had collected in the units. It was colder out than it has been in the past few weeks so there weren’t many critters to contend with except one mouse that was slow in evacuating. We continued on with our work despite our new friend and accomplished quite a bit by the end of the day.
To begin the day, Sam and Caroline finished up their unit after reaching the end of the plow zone in Unit 3. After completing the necessary paperwork and taking pictures of the finished unit they split up to help in Units 4 and 13.
In the block, JJ and I continued our work on Unit 6, specifically the matrix around Feature 11. We started at about 110 centimeters below datum and slowly scraped our way down, stopping periodically to piece-plot uncovered artifacts. It was a slow process as the unit was filled with fire crack rock and flakes, but we managed to make it to about 120 centimeters below datum by the end of the day.
Ben began his work in Unit 4 by very carefully scraping the surface of the unit with a trowel. In removing all of the loose dirt, it becomes easier to see slight or pronounced color variations in the soil that could indicate a feature or other important aspects of the unit. This is an important first step, as these variations can be very difficult to see at times. After completing this task, Ben began piece-plotting any artifacts he came across and later worked with Sam to map out Feature 12.
Over in the wall section of the site, Robert and DuVal worked on excavating Unit 13, where they came across two diagnostic Savannah River points. One was partial and was missing the tip, but the other was quite large and complete. These points were found in situ, meaning they were found exactly as they had been left and were not disturbed by plows or other intruding forces. The fact that these artifacts were both diagnostic and found in situ makes them very valuable to our understanding of the site.
When 2:30 rolled around we packed everything up and covered the units (at record speed) with the big blue tarp, officially marking the end of another fun and successful field school day.
Today was yet another busy day at the site! As the halfway point as passed for the semester, we continued on in our search into the unknown with more fervor than ever! And with our renewed energy from Spring Break we continued to expand our analysis of the "upstairs" block of the site along with our continued work along the wall as well.
In Unit 6, Ella and myself started with the removal of the backdirt that was placed within Feature 11 to protect it over the course of Spring Break. After removing the backdirt, we carefully began excavating the matrix that surrounds the Feature within Unit 6. The matrix, consisting of the soil and material that is directly touching the feature, contained several artifacts consisting of flakes. We also were able to uncover not only a biface that was on the edge of the matrix and the feature itself, but also so a magnificent quartz point!
In Unit 4, Ben started by clearing away the remaining backdirt that was left while we worked around the unit to protect the floor. Then he cleaned away the tunnels that were created by bugs and worms since the last field season, allowing Dr. White to prepare the photo board and to determine the size and area that needed to excavated following the further exposure of Feature 12. Feature 12 itself contained several exposed cracked rocks that could have possibly been cracked through repeated heating in a fire pit, though we won't be able to further our thoughts on this until further excavation is completed. Ben and Sam then worked to map out the feature as well as bisect it, while also determining how to go about the excavation of the southwestern half of the feature.
Caroline, Robert, and DuVal continued excavation in Unit 13 along the wall, furthering our reaches into the past as we grow nearer to another exposed feature that could reveal more valuable information. While excavating around the removed feature (Feature 3) however, they were greeted by a two wonderful discoveries! First, they exposed the lower half of a broken spear point that still contained its haft, and then shortly later, they exposed a larger spear point that was completely intact! Dr. White was excited by these discoveries as well as the rest of the team!
The day ended with us refilling Feature 11 with back dirt, as well as removing the the three points that we uncovered. Leaving the site for yet another week as we prepare to return with more energy!
This week began as usual but with one small change: we were three people light. Caroline, Ella, and Sam could not show up for various reasons leaving us short staffed, probably resulting in slower work. Other than that we began as usual. We pumped out the water the tarp had collected and removed the tarp. The labor was divided up into three groups, me and Katie, Dr. White and JJ, and DuVal and Robert.
Katie and I spent the field day resuming the piece-plotting we had been working on the week before in Unit 13. We did not find anything in particular that was too cool or big, just more small fragments of pottery and lots of flakes. Also, I found a small piece of bone. It isn’t very substantial or important but I think it is cool. The only reason bone this old is preserved is because it was in a fire of some form.
Dr. White and JJ started excavating a feature (Feature 11). They found a piece of charcoal in it large enough that Dr. White believed to be substantial enough to save for carbon dating if desired. The feature is a pit of some kind. To excavate it they bisected it with a line level and dug it out with a spoon. A standard spoon was not sufficient so Dr. White broke out the heavy artillery: a serious spoon.
To my knowledge DuVal and Robert were excavating a feature similar to JJ and Dr. White’s, with a main difference being that half of it is exposed where the hill cuts off. This makes for a pretty cool side view.
The day ended with the usual ritual of resetting the very large tarp over the excavation area and weighing it down with buckets of dirt. Hopefully it will protect the site for the next two weeks. We are all looking forward to getting back at it in the following weeks.
Day 7 at the field school already! That means we're just about half way through the semester, and that we still have a lot of stuff to do!
To start with, the large tarp that Dr. White purchased for us to use to cover the units was filled with a large amount of water, so much in fact that it would have taken us too long to bail out. Dr. White however, was prepared for this and showed us his own water pump that he had designed to remove the water from the pit at a much faster pace, while he talked to us on how we would be moved around starting the day so that more of us could have a more rounded approach to the site. Katie and Ben would continue working in Unit 12, Sam and Caroline in Unit 3, myself and Ella in Unit 6, while Robert and DuVal worked in the Downstairs in Unit 13. Lots of different things occurred over the course of the day in Units 3, 6, 12, and 13!
In Unit 12, Ben and Katie spent the entire day piece-plotting their findings while scraping with trowels, attempting to find flakes and other artifacts in the southern third of the Unit. Throughout the day, they mainly found flakes and some small pebbles and rocks.
In Unit 6, Ella and I worked extensively on preparing the bottom of the previously excavated unit from last semester where they had dug down to 100 centimeters below the datum level. First we cleaned up the floor from the tunnels that the worms and bugs had created since the end of last field season, and then we took a picture of Feature 11 which is exposed at the bottom in the southeast portion of the unit. Shortly after cleaning up the floor, we prepared and began dressing the feature while we also piece-plotted some of the artifacts that we uncovered while we were cleaning up the bottom of the unit. Though we were unable to begin excavating Feature 11, we are prepared to begin excavating the next week.
In Unit 3, Caroline and Sam continued to bring down the base of the unit to about 62 centimeters below the datum level (the bottom of Zone 2). While they were scraping across the bottom of the unit, they found several more artifacts, such as pottery and flakes, and specifically one of interest was that another ax head! It was much more clearly defined than that of the previous one, exciting not only all of us students at the site but also Dr. White especially, who had exposed the ax in the first place.
Unit 13, where Robert and Mr. DuVal were working for the entirety of the day, continued to come closer to that of an exposed feature in the wall. They had to progress slowly due to the unstable setting of the cut into hill, but they were able to get close enough to the feature that another unit maybe be opened up directly over an adjacent feature so that we can gain as much information as possible!
The day ended with that of Robert showing us some recreations of Native American blow guns that he had made to show how darts could possibly been used by prehistoric peoples in the Carolinas.
We were a little nervous to return to the site this Friday, since the weather had been so terrible for the past week. The shiny new tarp had quite a bit of water to pump out, as well as a family of mice that called the site home.
Once we were ready to get to work, I was assigned to piece plot the southern half of Unit 12 with Ben.
As you can see, we were able to fill this bag with a good many finds including about a dozen flakes and a large fabric-impressed sherd. Meanwhile over in Unit 3, where Caroline and Sam were working, a second axe-head was unearthed! The odds of this are incredible, and I can't wait to see what we can learn from them in the lab.
Piece plotting is done by scraping the soil lightly with a trowel, and flagging anything you might find (mostly flakes for us) with a piece of tape so that it can be mapped out on a graph before removal. This kind of documentation is important when it comes to debitage and shatter, because it can help to piece the material back together and work out how lithics were made. Ben and I spent the day doing this layer by layer, and we will continue next week until we reach 80 centimeters below datum.
Before we set out at the end of the day, Robert brought out some blow guns for us to take a look at! He made these himself from local river cane, as well as the darts which he fletched with thistle. I tried to shoot one, and it is a lot harder than it looks. Very happy to have ended the day on a fun note!