Monday, July 2, 2012

Puzzling Brick Feature

Field school students Kyle Feriend and Matt Slycord excavated a linear brick feature very close to the 8-pier water tower structure that we discovered three weeks ago. 

The 1x2 meter excavation of this feature provided many questions as to its use, with few clear answers.  As Kyle and Matt excavated, they noted that the bricks formed what appeared to be a flat linear direction that descended downward west from one unit into the next.  With both units open and their bricks fully exposed, the observer can easily see that the bricks slope downwards into a depression and then rise again.

Several viable interpretive options have been put forward, including the simplest explanation, that it was either a floor, path, or road.  If this was its function, why is it interrupted by a depression? One hypothesis is that there is an underlying septic system that the feature collapsed into.  Another hypothesis is that the depression is not of natural causes; rather the curved brick feature was itself part of a drainage or gutter system of some sort. The latter explanation assumes that the depression was an intentional component of this feature, which is consistent with the acknowledgement that the bricks are not extremely displaced and the depressions curvature is fairly undisturbed. 

Only preliminary interpretations are possible before more extensive excavations proceed in this section of the site, which is reserved for a future field season.  The hanging mystery of features such as this is common and serves as a good reminder to the students of the prioritizing and time constraints that archaeologists are often forced to work under.

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