Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sun, Rain, and Burial Mounds


The crew in front of the state marker for the Sumnerville Mounds       
Calvin fits comfortably in his unit.

         While today wasn’t as hot as yesterday, it was still pretty warm – especially in the late afternoon. The morning started off with sporadic cloudbursts, which were welcome at first, until the post-rain mugginess set in. Fortunately most of the crew preferred some rain and humidity to the blazing heat yesterday. I can honestly say both days were about the same, heat-wise, seeing as my unit is subjected to full sunlight from about 2:30 on. Despite the heat, digging continued, and Calvin and Scott’s pit was finally finished and ready for profiling. Tomorrow they’ll be drawing a profile map of one wall of their unit, to show off the different soil types they came across while digging. Then they get to fill it back up and move on to a new area and a new unit.
            Almost everyone else in the crew is ready to close up their units and move on to a new one. What with the hard, compact dirt of the B horizon (the layer where all of the dead plants and other organic material has leeched out) and the almost complete lack of artifacts from about 30 cm deep down, we’re all ready to start with fresh ground and a fresh chance to find something interesting.
            I did find a piece of lead shot today though, in a dark spot on the West side of my unit. Even though the soil stain probably came from a tree that was burned and decayed, finding such a tiny piece of lead shot was awesome!
Jordan posing for the camera.
            The highlight of the day by far was visiting Barb Cook’s house in Sumnerville. She fed us with some amazing couscous and some kind of brownie with white chocolate chips and cranberries (I don’t think it’s actually a brownie but I have no real words to describe it and its delicious flavors). Barb gave us a tour of the Sumnerville Mounds built by the Hopewell culture about two thousand years ago. She mentioned that Hopewell people may have lived around Cahokia, Illinois, where the famous mound-builders site is located. We saw two of the mounds, though there were six in total in the area, and she described how her husband, while flying above, saw a large horseshoe-shaped mound that had been plowed away. She told us the stories of two archaeologists that had excavated some of the mounds; one man, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, even stole many of the artifacts recovered and resold them. Thanks to Barb and local landowners, however, about six of the burial mounds have been preserved and remain unexcavated.
So many birds!
            After our tour of the mounds, Barb gave us a tour of her barn – and she sure has a lot of animals! Male peacocks, female peacocks, a gaggle of geese, a horde of ducks, two horses, and several cats. One cat, named Oso (Spanish for “bear”) was pretty chubby, and when anyone approached him, he immediately rolled onto his belly and begged with his eyes to be petted. He was very friendly and mellow, and allowed Erica to pick him up. When we were about to leave, he tried to itch his face with his back leg and rolled right over onto his back. If I’d had a camera I could have submitted it to The Planet’s Funniest Animals TV show.
            And last but not least, one of our crew, Sue, came back this morning with a van full of test cereals she brought for us. Three were international brands – one Spanish, and two from South Korea. While we were extremely grateful to Sue for bringing us this bounty, most of all we were a little too excited about cereal boxes with Korean writing and the toys inside.

Jon and Alex playing in the river.
That's all for this week. Stay classy, Niles!

-A.L.

3 comments:

Buzz Calvert said...

This was a fun outing for me, too....I was kind of a tag-along guest of Barb's, an amateur pre-historian investigating early settlement of Michigan, and it was hot fun in the summertime! I have 2 MAs from WMU, and I'm proud of our students, the Fort dig, and Michael for the work they are doing.
Buzz Calvert

Leah Lyn Walker said...

Looking for Buzz Calvert from Niles Brandywine class of 67 or thereabouts. This is Al Walker's daughter, leah. Please send your contact. Leahlynwalker@gmail.com

Leah Lyn Walker said...
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