Wednesday, April 29, 2015

We are back for Summer 2015!

Simpson Lot in bloom

We are excited to return to the field during Summer 2015 to continue investigating the Simpson Lot! The Simpson Lot is a 3.05 acre parcel located in the modern neighborhood that was graciously donated to Arcadia Mill Archaeological Site. Arcadia is managed by UWF Historic Trust, a direct support organization of the University of West Florida.

Simpson House ca. 1840
This year we will continue investigating the remains of the historic Simpson House (ca. 1835-1935), the three-story Louisiana-style mansion of E. E. Simpson and his family. The historic home stood for 100 years, but succumbed to a fire on 1 March, 1935.

14B Unit 125, west basement wall

During summer 2014, the crew uncovered intact structural features such as brick walls and a wooden basement floor with a brick subfloor. This year we will continue to delineate the boundaries of the Simpson house by identifying the south and east brick basement walls, in addition to identifying brick piers. We will also investigate associated outbuildings located in and around the Simpson house area.

We will host Friday field labs from 10 am to 2 pm every Friday in June and July 10th and 17th, and as always we encourage people to visit us in the field! Stay tuned for more information!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

End of Summer 2014 Field Season

After a great summer full of hard work, our time at the Simpson lot has come to an end. We accomplished a great deal this summer by diving head first into excavations to focus on the west wide of the basement, and we plan to return in the near future to finish our work.

Last week we focused on finishing up Units 138 and 140. After Unit 138 revealed an exposed area of articulated brick within the northern wall, Unit 140 was placed to the east to investigate whether the structure continued or not. After opening up Unit 140, we found no remnants of the structure. It is possible that the structure exposed in Unit 138 is a part of the southern basement that was moved when the lot was bulldozed after hurricane Ivan, and it is also possible that this structure is part of another chimney. Although we did not have enough time this field season to further expand on these units, it is definitely a possibility for next summer.

Wall structure in Unit 138

End of excavation west wall profile of Unit 140

This next week will be focused on finishing up paperwork and preparing for lab processing in the fall. Although this field season is over, we look forward to returning to the Simpson lot in the future! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week 9 Update

Summer 2014 Crew

As we transition into our last week of field school, excavations are kicked into high gear as we finish up our remaining units. Since last week, students finished excavating Units 137 and 139 in record time.

Excavations on Unit 137 were terminated once the students uncovered the bottom of the basement floor that was also present in units directly north and south of Unit 137. The wall visible in the western section of the unit is believed to be a continuation of the western basement wall, and the structure running through the central portion of the unit may have been associated with the basement hallway.

Unit 137: End of excavation

Unit 139 was originally placed to investigate whether or not the western basement wall present in Unit 135 continued south, but we encountered a large piece of modern concrete, bricks, iron fragments, and mortar that prevented us from digging deep enough to determine if the wall continued. 

Unit 139: West wall profile

Students excavating Unit 140

Students working on Unit 138 had an especially exciting week. While cleaning and straightening the walls of their unit, students discovered several articulated bricks present within the north wall. We believe that the articulated bricks are the remnant of the southernmost basement wall that we've been searching for. To expose more of the basement wall and to get a better idea of the basement dimensions, Unit 140 was placed northeast of Unit 138 to further investigate. 

Unit 138: North wall profile showing the articulated bricks of the southern basement wall

Unit 140: Top of level 2

Our final week at the Simpson Lot will be focused on trying to obtain some last minute information about the southern boundary of the basement. Details about what we find will be posted next week!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cool Find from Unit 137

Yesterday afternoon our field crew noticed a collection of jars within the northern portion of Unit 137. After being mapped, photographed, and documented, the jars were collected and taken to the UWF archaeology lab for processing. This exposed section of the Simpson house basement may have been used for canning or storage purposes at the time that the house burnt down. 

Unit 137 with the Jars Still in Place

Below are some pictures of the most interesting jars that we recovered. 

Glass jar from Unit 137

Jar from Unit 137

Mason jar from Unit 137

Friday Field Lab

Arcadia Mill will be hosting another field lab this Friday from 10 AM to 2 PM for anyone interested in archaeology or history.  As usual, it is free and open to the public, though we do ask that anyone under 16 years of age be accompanied by an adult.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week 8 Update

It's been a productive week here at Arcadia Mill as we continue to explore the western and southern boundaries of the basement. We were able to finish up excavations on multiple units as well as start several new ones. 

Students continued to excavate Unit 132 until the foundation of the brick wall was uncovered. As of now, we believe that this enclosed brick space is related to a multi-floor chimney. As new units placed are excavated within the vicinity, they will hopefully shed some light on this structure's purpose. 

Unit 132: End of Excavation

Unit 135 was opened at the very end of week 7 to uncover more of the structure exposed in Unit 132. We were able to track the continuation of the basement walls as well as reveal the remains of the original basement floor. The brick floor covered by wood panels was initially found in Unit 125 several weeks ago, and the continuation of the feature suggests that the basement was much larger than we originally predicted.

Students excavating Unit 135

Unit 135: End of Excavation

There were many interesting artifacts found within the second level of Unit 135 that relate to the kitchen space located to the north.

Artifacts from Unit 135

A large iron colander and bowl from Unit 135

Meanwhile, Unit 139 was opened along the western edge of the basement depression to track the continuation of the basement wall uncovered in Unit 135. Although the western wall does not appear to continue south, it is possible that the gap in the wall structure was a doorway of one of the basement rooms. 

Unit 139: Top of Level 3

Unit 137, which was also opened at the end of week 7, was extended by one meter in order to further investigate the wall structure exposed earlier in the week. The extension will allow us to determine whether the brick structure continues, or if it is a solitary wall. Many interesting artifacts have been recovered from the first unit of this level and can be seen below. 

Unit 137 Extended

Artifacts from Unit 137

Units 136 and 138 were both opened directly south of Units 132 and 135 with the hope of locating the southern edge of the basement wall. Because Unit 136 did not yield any structural features, it was terminated soon after being opened. Unit 138, unlike most of the other units, had a thick strata of clay that capped the natural deposit of the site. After the rest of the clay layer is removed, we will be able to determine if any brick structures are present within this unit. 

Profile view of Unit 138 showing the dense clay layer

Unit 136: End of Excavation

That's all for now, but next week will hopefully yield some exciting finds as we continue to search for the western and southern boundaries of the basement. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 7 Update

We are now headed into our eighth week of field school, but first we want to show you what we accomplished this past week. Though we only spent three days in the field, the crew accomplished quite a bit this week.

Units 127 and 131 are now finished with excavations and crew members are working on wall profiles.

Unit 127: End of Excavation
Three new units were opened this week. A 1 m x 1 m unit (Unit 133) was placed to investigate a positive probe hit. Crew members discovered an oddly semi-circular array of bricks while excavating this unit. To see if this continued, a 50 cm x 50 cm unit was placed east of Unit 133. The bricks do not appear to be significant and excavations of both units were terminated. 

Unit 133: End of Excavation

Unit 134: End of Excavation

The bricks that were cropping up in Unit 132 have been revealed to be some sort of structure. At this point in the excavations, we are hypothesizing that it is a chimney. The concentration of artifacts recovered from the unit has dropped considerably and crew members are now just finding brick fragments.
Unit 132: Top of LVL 3
Unit 132: Top of LVL 5

 The south wall of Unit 132 is covered with mortar, with small areas of brick peeking through. In order to investigate this and expand our knowledge of the structure, crew members placed in a 1 m x 2 m unit directly south of Unit 132. Excavations of Unit 135 are currently approaching the end of level 1. Much like level 1 of Unit 132, it has been producing a lot of glass and iron fragments from the mid-late 20th century. We've included some pictures of a few of our favorites below.

Unit 135: Before Excavation