Thursday, July 2, 2015

Arcadia Mill Field School: Introducing Hanah Brock

It is my pleasure to introduce Hanah Brock, another undergraduate student with the Arcadia Mill Field School.


"My name is Hanah Brock, and I am a senior at the University of West Florida in the undergraduate archaeology program. I plan to transfer to a masters program next fall and continue my education. My goals for the future include being a biblical  educator focusing on the anthropology of the bible."

Remember that this Friday the field lab will be closed due to the 4th of July holiday weekend. We will return, however, next Friday, July 10 for the Arcadia Mill Public Field Lab between 10AM and 2PM. The lab is free of charge and fully open to the public. However, we do ask that any children under 16 years of age be accompanied by an adult. The last public field lab will be held on July 17, 2015 from 10:00-2:00 as well, so come on down and learn about archaeology and local history! Also, be sure to tune in on Sunday for an update on our fieldwork progress this week!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Week 6 Has Come And Gone!

Time certainly flies! Week six of the field season has come and gone by with a blink of an eye.

We spent a portion of this week ensuring that our paperwork was correct and legible as well as opening several new units! Paperwork and data collection is a crucial step in any successful archaeological project, and through this process, our students learned the importance of clear, concise note taking and paperwork management. But it is not all work all the time. To avoid the rain storms that loomed on Wednesday, we conducted a little lab work and returned downtown for an informational, historical walking tour of downtown Pensacola. If you are interested in taking a tour and learning the colorful history of downtown Pensacola, please visit for more information on tour dates, times, and pricing.

Unit 155 was opened adjacent to Unit 153 (pictured below). If you recall, Unit 153 revealed a brick pier and a peculiar, narrow articulated brick wall running east to west. We began excavating Unit 155 with the hope of revealing more of the narrow brick wall. We removed the first level only to find yet ANOTHER brick pier! This pier is a mirror image to the brick pier in the adjacent Unit 153! There is similar brick rubble in the northern portion of the unit and a lighter yellow subsoil to the south of the pier. These brick piers served as structural support for the Simpson House, and we determined that the small wall connecting the two brick piers in Units 153 and 155 is a brick curtain that also enhanced the structural stability of the house.

We continued to make progress on Unit 152. If you recall from previous posts, we uncovered what appears to be another brick pier in the center of Unit 152, pictured below. Progress this week has revealed additional articulated bricks that make it appear larger than other piers in the surrounding units. This may be a different kind of structure or a similar feature that is just better preserved than the others. We won't know for sure until we excavate it further next week.

We also opened a new unit, Unit 156, this week. This unit is adjacent to Unit 154 that contained yet another suspect brick wall feature. We believe this brick wall to be a part of the basement that appeared to be alignment with other articulated brick walls that were discovered during last year's field season. We expected to identify the southwest corner of the basement wall in Unit 156 that should align with wall segments from last year, but what we found caused us to really scratch our heads. The wall in Unit 156 extended to the west, so yet again, we set up another unit to chase that wall, pictured below.

Unit 157 was set to the west of Unit 156 to chase the wall feature and locate its corner. We expected to find a corner of the wall that continued north towards other units from last year, but that is not what we found on Friday. The wall turned to the south! Oral tradition states that the covered entrance to the basement leading to the kitchen, extended slightly beyond the Simpson house. It is possible that we have located the covered entrance area since the brick wall feature and corner extend beyond the west limits of the previously identified basement wall. With looming rain showers, we decided to pack up, contemplate this curiosity over the weekend, and revisit the unit on Monday! (Unfortunately, we did not capture a photo of the corner of the wall for this blog, but we will post one next week. Stay tuned!) Below is an in progress photo of Unit 157 East Half, before we found the corner of the wall heading southward.

This week, we returned to the private property adjacent to the Simpson House lot to continue work on Unit 150. This unit has proven to be a grab bag of interesting cultural remains. Pictured below in Unit 150 is a dark gray burned layer in the north east corner that contains mostly oyster shell. A large iron deposit was also uncovered in association with the burned oyster and midden deposit.

Within this iron deposit, we recovered some interesting tin cans that are very rusty from being exposed to the oxygen and moisture in the soil for so long. They were so fragile that just handling them caused them to flake and break apart. We immediately sent them to our conservation lab on UWF campus. 

Due to the holiday weekend, we will not be holding a field lab this Friday. We will, however, be in the field Monday through Thursday for anyone interested in taking a tour of the Simpson Lot.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Arcadia Mill Field School: Introducing Robert Lee Cornforth!

Introducing another diligent field school student, Robert Cornforth. He is the class clown so to speak with an assortment of costumes and an avid author of poetry.

"Greetings! My name is Robert Lee Cornforth. I am majoring in Maritime Studies with a minor in Biology. Following the completion of my degree, I plan to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission or the United States Park Service. In the future, it is my desire to start my own fishing charter service. I have a strong passion for the outdoors and aquatic environments stemming from a love of camping and fishing."

Don't forget to join us at the Arcadia Mill Public Field Lab every Friday between 10AM and 2PM to learn more about our local history, archaeology, and artifacts. The lab is free of charge and fully open to the public. However, we do ask that any children under 16 be accompanied by an adult. We hope to see you there, and tune in on Sunday for an update on our fieldwork progress!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

WEEK 5! The Halfway Mark Is Here!

Our 5th week was hot, Hot, HOT! And the summer is promising to only get hotter! Hard to believe that the summer field season is halfway over! No awesome rain day field trips this week but  man  did the archaeology make up for that this week!

Unit 150, Feature 504 A/B,  a burned refuse pit, in the North wall before excavation.

Early in the week, the discovery of a burned refuse pit got us really excited! This pit is located in our excavation unit on the adjacent private property. This pit  predates the early 20th century Arcadia Farm, as it is truncated by the early 20th century plow zone and contains 19th century artifacts, like hand-molded glass, cut iron nails and a large cut iron spike. The most prominent inclusion in this pit was several really large oyster shells nestled together.This pit feature also included some of the best preserved burned bone ever to be found at Arcadia! Due to the size of the fragment of rib, it probably belonged to a cow or deer. This feature is really amazing because it helps us to begin understanding who lived east of the main house,whether this was an area designated for domestic slaves or later, lower income field hands.

Unit 138, Feature 472, a small brick wall, extending west into the wall of the unit.
Here is Robert Cornforth, excavating in Unit 156, the extension off Units 138 and 154.

This was the week for extending units to expose features! This week, we extended a 1 meter by 1meter unit off Unit 154 and last year's Unit 138, straddling Feature 472. We opened this new unit in order to chase  Feature 472, a small brick wall found last year, as seen in Unit 138 and  Unit 154. The goal is to uncover the west end or corner of the wall so we can better figure out the dimensions and layout of the Simpson house basement and to understand possible displacement of key features of the house when it was ultimately bulldozed in the 1990s.

Beth Chance is seen here tackling the root-y remains of a small tree in Unit 155.

The other extension we worked on this week was east of Unit 153, to capture more information about Feature 501, a remnant brick pier on the south portion of the Simpson house basement. This new unit, Unit 155, was set in to see what direction the pier may have fallen when initially bulldozed and if more of the pier remains intact. 

Also we would like to thank Janene Johnston of FPAN (Florida Public Archaeology Network) for coming out and helping us excavate! It was a pleasure as always! She worked in Unit 152, excavating level 2 and exposing more of Feature 500, a remnant pier on the south side of the Simpson house that is also related to Feature 501.

It was a great week with some awesome students! This next week will be even more interesting as these new units are excavated and new information is uncovered about these features!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Arcadia Mill Field School: Introducing Ken Newquist!

As you'll be seeing our smiling faces, we'd like to introduce you to our students! The first up is Ken!

Hi, my name is Ken Newquist and I am from Orlando, Florida. I am currently beginning my final year as an undergraduate at UWF and despite my major in Cultural Anthropology, I plan on pursuing an archaeological career. When I am not at field school, I enjoy being outdoors, weightlifting, and alpine skiing.

And as always, we'll be having our field lab at the Arcadia Mill museum this Friday! It is from 10am to 2 pm! Please join us! Children under 16 will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Arcadia Mill

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Arcadia Mill Field School Week 4

Week 4 of the Arcadia Field School brought a lot of rainy days for us. Students worked diligently in the field through the limited dry hours of each day, but when the rain picked up, we retreated to the lab to complete paperwork and rough sort artifacts to make the most of our time. We still have our fair share of fun in the lab despite the looming rain clouds.

Our progress this week was focused on three units that we opened last week. If you recall from last week, shovel test 502 was expanded to the 1 meter by 1 meter Unit 153 to reveal more information on the structural brick pier such as orientation, depth, and integrity of the structure. By close of business on Friday, we still have yet to reach the deepest extent of the structure. This is actually good news because this brick pier appears to be mostly intact. We expect that early next week we will reach the bottom of the brick pier, close this unit, and start another unit elsewhere. Below is a photograph of Unit 153 and students Hannah and Robert mapping the unit and features.

Unit 154 was opened last week as an extension of last year's Unit 138 that contained what we believed to be a brick wall. But the brick structure in Unit 138 is in alignment with the brick piers in Units 152 and 153. After reinterpreting Unit 138, we are investigating Unit 154 for the potential of the wall to be another structural brick pier. We have uncovered portions of mortar in the floor of the unit that is associated with the brick structure. We are so close to revealing the structure, but it will have to wait until next week. We did, however, encounter a fairly sizable root in the western portion of the unit that is too large to remove and yet difficult to work around. Below is a photograph of the unit and one of our students, Beth, removing sediment from the unit to be screened for artifacts.

And Unit 150 was opened in week two of field school. This week, students uncovered a peculiar round soil stain on the floor of the unit. We are unsure of what it is, but it is speculated to be a post that was driven into the ground. So far, no other stains were found, but there was a nice cut nail recovered from the unit. Below is a photo depicting the dark stain in the floor of the unit labeled F503.

We did not make it to the field on the rainy Thursday. Instead, we took the students to visit the FPAN museum, the TT Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum, and visited the First City Art Center. Below, our students enjoy the museums and pose with the shipwrecked Tristan De Luna.

We want to give a special thank you to the First City Art Center for hosting both Arcadia and Molino Field Schools on Thursday, especially on such short notice! Both field schools were called off for the day due to severe rain storms, and First City Art Center graciously welcomed our very large group to a glass making history discussion and glass blowing demonstration. Each student was invited to observe the process as well as participate in crafting a free blown glass ornament of color choice.

Above, you can see our students working through the various steps in creating their very own glass blown ornament. The delightful experience certainly was the highlight for us all and inspired us to look forward to the other options that First City Art Center has to offer such as glass bead making and ceramic lessons for future rainy days. 

If you are interested in the classes, workshops, or studio space that the First City Art Center has to offer, please contact them at 850-429-1222 or visit their website at for more information. You can also visit the studio located at 1060 N Guillemard Street, Pensacola, FL 32501. 

Don't forget to join us at the Arcadia Mill Public Field Lab every Friday between 10AM and 2PM to learn more about our local history, archaeology, and artifacts. The lab is free of charge and fully open to the public. However, we do ask that any children under 16 be accompanied by an adult. We hope to see you there, and tune in next week for an update on our fieldwork progress!