Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fun with Aaryn and Anna in Block 7!

It has been quite an exciting few weeks at the site for power team Aaryn and Anna.  After the discovery of brick foundations for structures 1 and 2 there was quite a lot of mapping to be done.  Detailed maps are kept of every unit opened and all the features we uncover.  This is important for the general documentation of the site, as well as future research once we have left the field.  Many of the structures at Arcadia were built on top of brick piers, and they are often some of the best preserved remnants of their buildings.  Aaryn and Anna worked hard to map some of the 8 piers found at structure 2 (the base of the old water tower/windmill), and several of the piers and fireplace left at structure 1 (probably one of the slave cabins).  These maps will be an integral part of our efforts to interpret and better understand the site.  As they will tell you, digging is definitely not the only aspect of archaeology.  Maps, paperwork, and taking geographic readings with our many instruments take up much of our time and energy.  The synthesis between all of these elements is what will teach us the most about the history of the residents of Arcadia Mill.

That being said, we opened and excavated two units over the last two weeks that have proved both interesting and challenging.  These units made up Block 7, and were located just to the north of our proposed slave cabin.  There were a total of four features within this 1mx2m block. Not too far below the surface Aaryn discovered a clay cap, which was bright orange and terribly compact.  This type of deposit might have been laid down to provide a stable surface for a structure, or to provide a sturdy cover over something under the ground.  Then, Anna recognized a dark stain surrounding the clay which had a large concentration of charred wood throughout it.  This was designated a midden, which was related to some kind of burning incident.  It became clearer as we excavated that the burning was structural, as most of an intact plank was discovered directly beneath it, with large iron nails and fasteners still evident throughout the burnt wood.  Beneath the plank was another midden, this one full of some interesting artifacts, including a chamber pot and a cow’s tooth.  To the girl’s chagrin, this deposit became extremely dark and quite smelly, which indicates that it was at one time a pit for the disposal of organic waste.  With the remains of a structure and a chamber pot located directly above it, one of our best guesses for this collection of features is that at one time this area was most likely used as a privy and pit for the disposal of trash and animal waste.  Finding out that they had been sitting in a toilet for two weeks was probably not the best news Aaryn and Anna ever received… but our knowledge of the site and its inhabitants has still been enhanced by these excavations and the wealth of information to come out of Block 7. 

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