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.

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