MCAP Field School, Day 16: Cool breezes   1 comment

— post by Abigail Hyndman and Dr. Peres

Today was a great day! The sun was been out but not nearly as hot as the past few weeks and a cool breeze blew in from the northwest. Everyone was ready to work.

A gorgeous June day! Too bad you can’t see the breeze in the picture.

Unit 6 is the one that I (Abigail)  have been screening for and it has been a love/hate relationship from the beginning. While in Units 1 and 3, the soil is very wet and clay-like, Unit 6 is hard and compacted.

Abigail Hyndman carrying a bucket of dirt to the screening station.

While easy to screen, it is not at all easy to dig at this point. We are still in the “plow zone” (the upper sediments disturbed by mechanized agriculture in historic and modern times), which seems to never end. We are excited and ready to see what we recover in the coming days.

In the other units, it is business as usual. We have reached the top of the shell deposits in Unit 1.

Top of shell deposits exposed in Unit 1, approximately 95-100 cm deep.

Today JoBeth, Mimi, and Dr. Peres continued troweling off the last few centimeters of dense dark midden trying to determine where the shell stops within the unit. It is slow work, but the effort is rewarded by interesting finds and the joy of watching each other get in and out of this, very deep, unit.

Mimi trowels herself into a corner uncovering the top of the shell deposits.

Today two interesting artifacts turned up in this deep midden layer above the shell deposits. On the left is a possible sandstone pendant or gorget (broken of course). On the right is a piece of crinoid fossil, which may or may not have been used as a bead or charm. We will need to analyze it further under a microscope to see if there are any indications of use wear around the center opening.

Possible sandstone pendant (on the left) and crinoid fossil (right) from the deep midden.

Field Assistant, Kelly Ledford, leads the team working in nearby Unit 3.

Field Assistant, Kelly Ledford, continues excavation of Unit 3.

This unit started as a 2 x 2 m, and is now continuing excavation as a 1 x 2 m unit. We did this knowing there are no shell deposits in the eastern half of the unit — working on only the western portion will save us time. Kelly and her team (Pam Hoffman and Erin Floyd) will continue to excavate this until they reach the top of the shell deposits. We anticipate this to be in the next 20 cm or so. Then they will excavate a 1 m x 1 m column sample and bag every level (the same will be done for every unit that reaches the shell) — thus we will have a 100% sample of the shell deposits.

The team working in Unit 7, located in the southernmost extent of the site no covered by trees and undergrowth, continues to excavate through mixed deposits of gravel/fill, historic trash (glass, metal cans, etc.), and prehistoric artifacts (pieces of rocks, a broken projectile point). We hope they will be through this debris tomorrow morning and into intact deposits. You might wonder how all these things got so mixed up. Dr. Peres thinks that some of this is junk left behind by a previous tenant (when it was a working farm), some is mixed up from plowing, and some is debris left behind when the flood waters receded in May 2010.

MTSU Anthropology majors (L to R): Wesley Vanosdall, Kate MicKinney, and Kyle Deitrick. Kyle perfects his shovel toss, Kate cleans up the unit walls, and Wesley screens for artifacts.

Along with continuing excavations in the units, Ryan Robinson  has returned to do continue his deep bucket auger testing program. With the assistance of two students, he is doing some additional deep auger tests.

Ryan Robinson instructs field school students Sean McKeighen and Karen Patterson in the fine art of augering and describing soils.

They encountered the expected shell deposits at about 120 cmbs (which is what we expected). Under this there is an interesting sand to soil composition, with the two alternating to a depth of over 5 meters.

We are almost to the halfway point of the field season and there is a lot more information left to recover so back to the trenches…or units!

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Posted June 5, 2012 by drtmperes in Uncategorized

One response to “MCAP Field School, Day 16: Cool breezes

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  1. Those units are getting deep – the levels go way down! Glad to be able to see how things are going everyday – love the blog!

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