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Changes [Nov 20, 2012]ARTIFACT ID
Week 3 was all around fantastic! The weather teetered on the brink of storminess, but we lucked out and were saved from the brunt of it. We enjoyed working in the warm and not-so-humid temperatures of the last Spring week. Happy archaeologists made for great results. We reached a stopping point (for now) in Trench 5 and moved on to start excavations in Trench 4, a 3x3 meter unit adacent to Trench 2. Trench 6 continued to produce suprises - just when we thought we were reaching the point of sterile glacial soil, another feature or artifact concentration emerged! Certainly no complaints though - the more information we can gather about the Old House, the better.
The edge of a thunderstorm literally skims by Greene Farm mid-week.
Jonathan reacts to the stormy clouds looming nearby to the north. The rains never came though.
A view of the Old House area, facing east towards the Providence River. Trench 6 is uphill, to the left, Trenches 5, 3, and 2 are concentrated downhill, to the right.
This week the three trenches (5, 6, and 4) are organized under separate headings because we have so much information to share. This is a view of the NE corner of Trench 5 wall (foreground) with the north wall of Trench 2 in the background. This view is interesting because the foreground wall profile is a cut through the builder's trench that runs at a 90 degree angle to the builder's trench visible in the north wall of Trench 2.
At the beginning of Week 3 we aimed to quickly finish excavating in Trench 5. Here Caroline and Angela excavate the builder's trench fill, which was a mix of gray clay and a lot of small architectural debris.
In the SW corner of Trench 5, two vertical stones emerged, and we excavated the Strata 2 that was part of a feature (Feature 4) cut into the west wall of Trench 5 (visible at the end of Week 2's photos). This is the view of the soil change at the bottom of the feature.
A view of Feature 4 during excavations, with the bisected builder's trench in the north wall (background).
Our dreams of finishing Trench 5 on schedule were slightly delayed by the emergence of several different features at around 70 cmbd. Here Noah, Jonathan, Caroline, and Angela all crowd together to uncover the builder's trench and Feature 4.
A view of GF1717, the context below GF1710. Context GF1717 turned out to be Strata 3, a mottled sandy B soil, and GF 1710 was Strata 2, a fill soil with tons of 17th-and 19th-century materials.
Another view of Trench 5.
A view of Trench 5 facing west.
We aimed to excavate Strata 3 (1717) until it was sterile for at least 30cm. We didn't get very far before finding this first posthole.
The posthole in relation to the builder's trench.
Grace and Jonathan shovel shave through the fairly artifact-less Strata 3. The posthole is visible in the middle of Trench 5.
Before long, the vertical stones pictured above revealed a second, stone-lined posthole 40cm SW of the posthole in the previous photos.
A view of the smaller posthole, stone lined posthole, and the Feature 4 (a circular pit) after excavation. The pit was filled with brick, slate, and nails. The dark square of soil in the upper right is the remnants of Trench 3 surface from 2007 rather than a different soil.
A close-up view of the stone-lined posthole.
A close-up view of the builder's trench, with larger stones and brick towards the bottom and smaller brick concentrations above. This trench was dug about 5-8cm into the Strata 3 sandy orange-ish soil.
A view of Trench 5 facing westward, with two postholes and feature pit excavated. The width and depth of the builder's trench (right) is also visible adjacent to the meter scale stick.
Excavations continued in Trench 6 and gained quite a bit of momentum by week's end once we started to figure out the unit's complicated stratigraphy and the general presence of the stone structural feature.
A view of Trench 6 facing east at week's beginning. The square dug in the foreground is the remnants of a 1x1m unit from 2006.
A view of Trench 6 facing north. Andrew is digging in an area of architectural wall fall.
At first the soil on the 3 sides of the stone structure appeared different, so we excavated each seperately. A soil difference between the northeast corner (top right) and the southwest (bottom left) is visible here.
This image is also taken of the same level, but facing north. The apparent wall running from North to South is constructed largely of inpenetrable mortar. It appears to have been collapsed westward, as there is a very thick deposit of crumbled mortar in the NW portion of the unit (also visible in side wall) compared to the relative absence of mortar in the NE portion of the unit (upper right here).
Trench 6 facing south. Colin excavates through the orange sandy fill soil.
A view of the area Colin was excavating facing east. Along the south wall an STP from 2006 is visible. It is interesting to note how we stopped at a much higher depth then than this year mainly because we misinterpreted the sandy soil as the sterile glacial subsoil rather than redeposited architectural fill.
A view of the northwest corner of Trench 6, where these large cut stones emerged. The 2006 1x1m excavation unit is also visible here. These stones in the NW are on top of a similar sandy fill, which we identified as the same soil as that in the SW half of the unit.
A view of the NE corner of the unit, which has relatively less mortar.
The view facing west, with large cut stones in NW coner (upper right), and sandy soil on all sides of the stone structural feature.
Just when we started to debate our next move with this Trench, Andrew uncovered a posthole and support base for it in the NE corner of the unit (the mortar-less area).
A view of this posthole and base in the NE portion of the unit, very near the line of mortar.
The same area, posthole and base, rubble, and a large iron artifact (upper right).
A view of the same NE corner towards the east. The rubble is visible (bricks and stone mainly).
Kaitlin keeps careful track of the artifacts coming out of each context.
A view of Trench 6 facing north, as the sandy soil was being excavated.
The stones in Trench 6 are not aligned in any particular direction, as were those in Trench 1 last year. This arrangement suggests the possibility that these were either not related to the wall in Trench 1, that they were but have been disturbed over the years, or that they are not necessarily part of an exclusive foundation wall. The curvature of the stone feature may suggest that it was a base for a very large chimney or fireplace, which were very large in the 17th century. Our preliminary research into early architectural designs points to a structural style distinct to Rhode Island in the 17th century. We will have to tie in the data from the other excavation Trenches before we can offer any more conclusive interpretations.
The stone feature (as seen in the last photo) is relatively semi-circular, with the mortar concentration extending northwesterly from it. The orange flags in the SW of the unit (upper left) mark a rare find emerging beneath what we initially thought was becoming sterile glacial soil.
We were clued into the existence of something different near these orange flags when Colin began to excavate larger artifacts from the 17th century, including this clear glazed redware handle.
The redware handle came from a feature, seen here with the gray soil stain in the SW corner and extending eastward. At first, a few bits of wood were visible in the corner (see black flecks in image).
Other household artifacts like this pin also came from the gray feature fill.
Colin excavating the feature trench.
Typically, we would excavate the feature from the surrounding strata first because it was cut into the soil and is therefore younger than the soil deposit in which it rests. We had to adjust our methods because the feature trench turned out to contain a large and fairly well preserved plank of wood. It was very fragile, so we excavated the surrounding soil, created a pedestal with profile to see how deep it was, then proceeded with its careful excavation.
The timber and associated feature during excavation.
Colin excavating the timber.
The timber after excavation. Square nail holes were visible in the wood.
Kaitlin readies the timber for removal to the lab by running a string underneath to cut the soil but not the wood.
Then Kaitlin, Andrew and Jonathan improvised and used trowels to provide a balanced support for the timber in order to carefully move it to the board for removal.
After the timber's successfull removal, Colin cleans up the soil.
From the feature around the timber came this polished slate artifact - possibly an early colonial button mold.
The sandy soils in the SW corner of the unit.
Andrew excavates in the SW portion of the unit.
Finally - we decided that we needed to work on better defining the stone feature and understanding the soils on each side of the mortar wall. Jonathan begins to dig out the mortar wall here.
In the NE corner a clay trench emerged along the north wall.
The sandy conditons were great for preserving organics. Andrew and Zach found and carefully remove two more wood fragments.
The unspoken task behind the uncovering of Trench 6 - lots and lots of buckets for screening. Jonathan transports a couple to the screens.
Luckily most of the sand easily dry screened through our homemade 1/8 and 1/4" screens.
In the orange sandy soil hundreds of nails were recovered, including these with wood still attached to them.
Before we can remove any of the stones, they have to be carefully drawn to scale. Andrew tackled this over the course of a full day.
The 1 meter drawing square.
A view facing west of the north half of the unit after the mortar wall was removed.
At the end of Friday, Noah and Jonathan transport the timber back to the field lab with care.
Trench 4 before excavation - located between Trench 2 (foreground) and Trench 6 (background). We chose this location with the aim of uncovering more of the wall and the builder's trench.
Angela, Grace, and Noah remove the sod layer.
The topsoil / Strata 1 under the sod.
Shovel skimming was again the method of choice for Ashley and Angela.
Having a shared wall with Trench 2 is an added bonus for Trench 4 excavation. Krysta consults the 2007 paperwork from Trench 2 and tries to anticipate the features and strata that might appear in Trench 4.
The very well cleaned and level top of the next context and strata (GF 1731). This context is likely the same soil as GF1710 in Trench 5.
Ashley is (and should be) proud of her excellent trowelling skills that made the top of the new context photo-ready.
Josie and Randi identify a Munsell soil color to describe the new strata.
Strata 2 - GF 1731 is a very artifact-rich deposit, with a mixture of 19th- and 17th-century materials. Randi found a tubular glass bead from the soil while screening.
And an ornate buckle.
And a pewter spoon handle with strawberry knop design, identical to one found in the second strata of Trench 6 last week. Maybe we'll find the rest of the set!
Less rare, but very interesting is this wrought 17th-century nail, which was wonderfully preserved. This unusual state of preservation is related to the type and quality of the metal.
By week's end Randi and Angela busily excavated Trench 4 but did not yet reach the wall surface.
Around the Farm
Caroline and a visitor from UMass Boston wet screen artifacts together.
Mrs. W and Randi wondering, "why anybody in their right mind would build a house in this muckhole"!
From screen to lab. The lead weight pictured in Week 2's photos was analyzed in the field lab this week. Here is its entry from the artifact catalog form, which will be entered into the project database. Zach drew an impressive rendering of the object from three angles.
Each day the crew rotates into the lab to help Ninian with washing, labelling, and cataloging artifacts. Here Ninian guides Jonathan in artifact labelling.
Our newest crew members - the local turkey flock. Perhaps they'll be trained to screen by the end of Week 4!!
Week 4 click here