Saturday, July 29, 2017

A sneak peek into one of the pits

Hi everyone, Ashley here again! As we gear up for the FSJAP Open House on August 5th and 6th, I’d like to take this opportunity to provide you with a sneak peek into one of our units and share some of the exciting new discoveries my pit partner, Hailey, and I have made! I would also like to provide insight into some of the possible interpretations of these new discoveries.
            Currently, we have excavated our unit down to about 33 cmbd and are still in the plow zone. If you recall from Bryan’s blog post, “The Stratigraphy of Fort St. Joseph”, the plow zone is the layer of soil that was plowed during the second half of the 19th century. Artifacts from the period of occupation at Fort St. Joseph are, indeed, found in the plow zone. However, since they have been churned up by the plow and are no longer in situ (its original place), they provide us with little to no context. Therefore, we are unable to fully understand and assess the circumstances surrounding these objects.
            Thus far, we have recovered a substantial number of artifacts in the plow zone. Although we are unbale to glean any relevant context they may have held, the artifacts can tell us something about the area within our unit. While troweling, we often uncover large pieces of unburned bone, calcined bone, glass, iron nails, and structural stones. Wet screening provides us with a means to see smaller objects more clearly, and we have uncovered many seed beads, lead shot, lead scrap, a wampum bead, ceramic, and glass shards.
Seed beads and a wampum bead recovered from our unit.
            One exciting discovery we made was a small piece of French faience ceramic. Essentially, French faience is a tin-glazed earthenware with a shiny, white glaze and blue painted decoration. The small sherd we discovered may have once been part of a dish, such as a plate or bowl, as French faience was most often utilized for these purposes. 
French Faience described above!

            We also uncovered a large piece of glass from our unit that exhibits characteristics indicative of a French wine bottle! The glass looks almost black when held in your hand, but held up to the light it shines and reflects an olive-green color. There is also a significant curvature to the glass shard, which indicates that it was most likely part of the neck and body of the bottle.
            Finally, our most exciting discovery yet includes a row of structural stones uncovered in the north-east corner of the unit and extending toward the south-west. The stones appear to be stacked on top of one another and lined up in a row. Although we are still in the plow zone, it is rather curious that the stones are in this formation. There is potential evidence of burning within our unit, as we continue to see oxidized soil throughout. We began “pedestaling” around the stones so that they remain in place for now. We will photograph our unit once we reach 35 cmbd and then determine the best course of action from there.

These structural stones may potentially be part of a feature! 
            In previous years, a unit to the north of ours was excavated and exhibited similar artifacts and features. There appeared to be evidence of burning, as well as structural stones that may have potentially been part of a hearth or fireplace. We are curious to determine if perhaps our structural stones are also part of a fireplace, although it remains too early to tell. We may continue to pedestal around them or excavate further. We intend to uncover more about this fascinating discovery, and we hope to be able to share it with you at the annual FSJAP Open House next weekend!

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