Monday, August 6, 2012

Countdown to Open House: Day 5

             Today dawned a new week. This is our last full week excavating at Fort St. Joseph, and already many of us are talking about how much we will miss this place of dirt, work, and dirty work.  But so much remains to be done before we are ready to leave!  Our units are now almost completely in the occupation zone, but still hold many secrets. Excavated artifacts are piled in heaps waiting for attention from the washing and sorting crews. Finally, we must prepare for the culmination of our efforts, the Open House.  If you weren't aware of this extravaganza or haven't thought about your weekend plans, please allow me to issue you a formal invitation to our Open House this weekend … trust me, it will be an amazing time.
Jon proving his strength.
            This morning began with cleanup from this weekend's heavy storm.  Fortunately, nothing was broken and no trees fallen, and so all that was necessary was to bail out water from our units.  (One individual did take it upon himself to chase my pit partner with a poor drowned mouse from our unit; the perpetrator Joe will remain nameless)  Then it was off to work. 

The oxidized soil of our unit is on the left; the feet point towards it.
            Michelle and I had reluctantly left our unit last week with only a little bit of work remaining, and so we were eager to finish our paperwork and our level.  Last Friday we came across a large patch of orange oxidized soil in our unit which is very interesting to us.  The oxidation in the soil tells us that something was burned, while the location of the soil implies this burning was related to the hearth which had been previously excavated directly next to our unit.  After we carefully exposed all the oxidized soil, we removed a 10 liter sample which we will take back to the lab for flotation.  By carefully analyzing all the soil, we will be able to find even the smallest carbonized seed or scrap of organic material which will tell us a lot of about what was happening here.
              Progress continues across the site: buckets are screened, walls cleaned, photographs snapped, and artifacts carefully mapped.  Along with the omnipresent piles of animal bone, Michelle and I turned up lead shot, copper scrap, seed beads, and our first piece of wampum.  Other groups had some great finds as well: a tiny carved bird missing its head, a round ridged upholstery tack, and two separate pieces of the same micmac pipe.  Although archaeology is not just about the artifacts, it is fascinating to see all the remnants of Fort St. Joseph emerging from the ground.
The micmac pipe.

One adorable headless carved bird.

             After packing up after our long day in the field, we hit the showers at the YMCA, and then headed over for dinner. Our meal tonight was generously prepared by Mary Ellen Drolet and her family. The vast quantities of baked beans and pulled pork, and the array of delights around the chocolate fountain went a long way towards satisfying us hungering students, fortifying us for the long night of lab work ahead.

Joe wants YOU to come to the Open House.

Washing in lab.

     Four days in the field lay ahead of us, and we are ready.

- Sarah Oren

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