This blog includes updates from the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project sponsored by Western Michigan University in partnership with the City of Niles, the Fort St. Joseph Museum, Support the Fort, Inc. and other community groups. The Project is dedicated to archaeological research, education, community service learning, and intensive public outreach. The Principal investigator of the Project is Dr. Michael Nassaney.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
It Only Takes A Spark
This is Gary, again,
here to update everyone on my latest field school experiences. Since I last
blogged, my fellow students and I have relocated to a new site along the St.
Joseph River, which we all refer to as “the floodplain.”
About to apply some underwater archaeology techniques. (photo by John Cardinal)
At this new location, Amelia,
my new pit partner, and I first opened up a new 1x2 meter unit within about six
feet of the river. We had a great view and joked with our fellow classmates
about it, telling them that we had the best real estate in town. The joke was
on us, however, because the river rose and filled our perfectly excavated unit
with water. Sadly, my partner and I felt a little displaced after being swamped
out of our new unit; we wondered around for a few days helping others with
their units, but both of us just wanted to return to our precious river front
location. Its funny how attached we’d become to this excavation unit. Unfortunately,
the water never completely receded, so Amelia and I opened up a new unit, which
we “insightfully” placed farther away from the river’s edge.
excavating our newly placed unit, I was using a technique we call shovel
skimming, a method of removing a thin layer of dirt with a long handled, razor
sharp, flat bladed shovel. And, as I was skimming the dirt, I felt a small
vibration run up the handle of my shovel. Upon closer inspection, I realized
that I’d unearthed a gun flint—the first one I’ve ever found.
Chert gun flint. (photo by John Cardinal
those unfamiliar with gun flints, they are small precision shaped rocks used to
ignite the gun powder in muskets, and, because of this ignition system, these
guns are also referred to as flintlocks. Gun flint classification is
surprisingly complex, but they are basically classified according to their, raw
material (chert vs flint), method of manufacture (core vs blade), function
(long gun vs pistol), shape (physical dimensions), and color (determined by the
source of the raw material used). The particular gun flint that I unearthed is made
from chert, honey in color, and technically referred to as a French gun spall. -Gary