Key PagesJoukowsky Institute Workplace |
Changes [Nov 20, 2012]ARTIFACT ID
Week 3 saw the continuation of excavations in Trenches 8 and 9, and also the opening of a new 1x2 unit - Trench 10. With a few semi-dry days over the weekend, the tall hay was finally cut over the weekend, and we arrived to a visibly different site at the start of Week 3.
The fresh cut hay made us hopeful for a dry start in contrast to the past two weeks' wet weather.
Hopeful until about 10am on Monday, when the rain returned!!! Our spirits weren't dampened though, and we continued to use our trusty makeshift rain tents to protect our units during excavations.
Luckily the showers were intermittent and we were able to resume work on Trenches 9 and 8. Here Elise, Megan, and Christina dig through an extremely rich deposit of 17th century materials, context GF 1767.
In Trench 8 excavations on the east side of the wall quickly revealed the orange sandy glacial soil and a clear edge of the wall feature.
Digging along the west wall of the architectural feature in Trench 8, we uncovered the orange sandy soil on the west side of the wall as well. On this west side of the wall feature several larger stones appeared next to the wall - evidence of wall fall from the orginal foundation wall. The foundation wall was unique because its central area (between the two ends) was constructed of small chinking stones, slate, mortar, shell, broken rubble of these materials, and rather oddly - lots of animal bones.
Meanwhile, back in Trench 9, we were expecting to find a continuing edge of the wall feature from Trench 8 accompanyied by adjacent orange sandy soil. Megan delineates soil color changes in the north wall of Trench 9 here -- although the orange soil was not seeming to appear as uniformly or at the same elevation as the deposit only one meter northwards...
While the stratigraphy in Trench 9 proved unexpectedly difficult, the deposits paid off with an exciting assemblage of diagnostic 17th century artifacts. Elise holds a pipe bowl with a maker's mark, "PE" on the stem. The maker of this pipe was likely Philip Edwards of Bristol, England. Edwards produced these pipes between 1649/50 and 1668-9.
In Trench 9 a few stones emerged that looked like they might have been aligned. Jonathan and Elise mapped these in to scale in case they turned out to be on top of a more substantial stone or soil feature. This did not turn out to be the case.
The return of the rain was accompanied by the return of large artifacts emerging from GF 1767/8 in Trench 9, including this glazed redware vessel base fragment that Megan is holding here. This is one of several large utilitarian redware fragments recovered from this season's excavations.
Jonathan displays another large redware rim fragment from Trench 9.
With the completion of Trench 7 at the end of Week 2, and the steady progress of excavations in Trenches 8 and 9, we were fortunate to have extra time to open one more small unit. We carefully selected the location for the new 1x2m unit - Trench 10 - with the intention of locating the edge of the high density midden area, based on excavations in 2005 and 2006. Caroline and Al measure and record opening elevations of Trench 10 here.
Trench 10 soil after removal of the sod revealed a noticeably darker topsoil, almost black, in comparison to parts of Trench 9, which is just 1.5 meters directly to the north of Trench 10.
Randi and Caroline shovel shaving through the topsoil deposit.
A view of Trench 10 in the foreground relative to the rest of the excavation units. Trench 9 is 1.5 meters to the north, Trench 7 is covered (top right), Trench 6 is covered (top left).
Very quickly we discovered that Trench 10 was NOT the midden-filled unit that we were hoping to see. Instead, we came across an even more exciting find -- structural and possible landscaping remains in the form of a linear stone/mortar/shell feature in the trench's north wall, and a thick shell sheet midden, possibly a landscaping surface extending across the unit entirely (southward), and across 1m of the unit from west to east. This image shows the cut stone and shell at the beginning of its appearance in the NW corner of the trench.
Christina works under cover of the tent to establish the extent of the shell deposit
Shell!!! The western half or 1m of Trench 10 is nearly completely lined with shell, mostly oyster. The vast majority of these shells were complete or nearly complete. No reworking of the shells was visible. These were vertically packed 3-4 shells deep and were interspersed with historical artifacts, particularly nails, glass, and small domestic materials. Underneath these shells, we found a layer of flat slate of multiple colors (purple, green, gray). At first we wondered if these shells were used as a landscape surface (a path?, yard surface?). The slate was very similar to roofing slate that we've found elsewhere on the site, however, suggesting that either the shells were part of a fallen structure, with slate roof tiles superimposed on the bottom of the fall deposit --- or were the slate pieces used to provide a flat, strong and relatively water tight underlining on top of which the shell were placed? In any case, this is a new feature of the Old House site that we are excited to study in more detail.
While excavating this deposit in Trench 10, Caroline recovered a beautiful copper alloy handle.
One expectation of Trench 10 that came true was the high water table. Slightly downhill from the other excavation Trenches, the water began to enter Trench 10 at 40cmbd. In the 2006 midden 1x2 units the water fully innundated the units at this level. Digging at this point became increasingly muddy - not especially helped by the constant drizzle.
Here is a view of the possible wall extension or architectural feature in the north wall of Trench 10. This did not continue southward across the unit (see above), and it appears to taper or end about 30cm from the east wall.
Another view of the feature (21) in the north wall of Trench 10.
A rare moment of sunshine on Thursday!
Followed by a rainbow. Pictures taken as if we hadn't seen the sun in ages!
Zach takes advantage of the temporary break in the wet weather at the end of the week to draw the wall feature in Trench 7, which we were unable to complete in the rain during Week 2.
Trench 9 at the end of the week reached the bottom of the artifact rich deposit. While no stratigraphic features appeared in this deposit, digging was slow because of the high density of materials recovered. Below are several pictures of artifacts from this deposit. Meanwhile, in Trench 8, the stone wall feature was being drawn to scale.
Among the many hundred shell fragments recovered throughout the Trench 9 deposit, some have interesting rounded fragments cut or broken from them - as with the top of this clam shell here.
A crew favorite and one of our most informative finds to date - this is the obverse side of what appears to be a patent farthing or trade token dating to the reign of either James I or Charles I. The crowned harp design is surrounded by "FRA: ET HIB REX". The reverse side is more faded, and will require microscopic examination. Patent farthings were not royal minted coinage, but were popular (and often counterfeited) regulated currency used by merchants throughout the first half of the 17th century. While the patent farthing was demonitized as a currency in England in 1672, they continued to be used in the colonies at a higher value, in fact, until at least 1699. There are records from the Massachusetts Bay colony outlawing patent farthings as currency as early as the mid-1630s due to counterfeiting concerns, evidence that these tokens must have appeared in the area. Yet, no known archaeological examples of these tokens have been found to our knowledge in New England. A handful of examples do remain from Jamestown, VA, and a "hoarde" of 8 tokens were found on eastern Long Island.
A close-up of the mid-17th century "PE" maker's mark on the pipe bowl heel from Trench 9 (see above).
Not to be outdone by Trench 9, a deposit in Trench 10 at similar depth to the artifact-rich layer in Trench 9 produced this exciting cloth bale seal. The wording on this side, surrounding the head, says "OF ENG-LAND"
On the reverse of this lead seal, is visible a crowned fleur-de-lis with a number 4 to the left. According to Geoff Egan's research, this may be a 17th century English alnage seal, the 4 indicates the rate of tax paid on the cloth trade good. These seals and their associated trade goods were closely regulated by royal appointed tax officials in England.
Also appearing in this deposit is a dark blue tubular glass bead. Likely a Native American trade good or adornment accesory.
Back in Trench 9 at this same level was found a beautiful elbow pipe with swirled decoration on each side. Fragments of this pipe's bowl were also found with decoration on them. This is not a European design.
This find combined with the others leaves little doubt that in the 17th century this was a site of active trade, exchange, and multicultural activity. This is a broken half of a purple wampum bead found in Trench 9. We found four other wampum beads in the midden deposit, 1 purple, 3 white in 2005-06, but none since. Wampum beads found in deposits of European occupation in Rhode Island are rare - if not unique to this site (according to the State Archaeologist).
A view of the broken side of this same wampum. Was it broken in use, manufacture or post-deposition?
Perhaps a few more wampum would help us to begin to address these questions? Over the course of the week, we recovered from Trench 9 two more white wampum, a black shell bead - very similar to the wampum shape and size, and two fragments of what appears to be a shell bead!
A close-up of the two white wampum shows that one is indented on the surface, while the other is slightly uneven at its base.
With records indicating that there were at least two structures or successive houses on this site, it was exciting to find this well-preserved, albeit burned, piece of molded wood in the same Trench 9 deposit.
This fruit and vine design on a pipe stem fragment from Trench 9 is one of three examples we've excavated of the Dutch 17th century motif.
Near the pipe stem in Trench 9, Megan found this quartz cobble with an intriguing orange exterior, and evidence that this was a core used for flaking preforms for projectiole points off of it. Visible is at least one striking platform and the areas from which the flakes were removed.
A possible deer bone, but one with additional carving around the edges.
While these pictures don't really document the raininess of the week, they do show the amount of progress made in the wet conditions. And the vigor with which the crew worked during the sunny moments -- as seen here - in Megan and Elise's eager preparation of a batch of buckets for Monday morning's screening!!