Monday, June 18, 2012

Successful First Week

Last Friday we wrapped up our first full week of excavations for the summer. We were able to open three new units, two behind 124 Elfreth’s Alley and one in the pathway between 124 and 126. The units have yielded many artifacts including buttons, a pipe stem/bowl fragment, an assortment of ceramics, a variety of bottle and window glass, as well as a significant amount of nails and other metal objects.

Feature 3 is in bottom left corner.  Note darker color and fewer inclusions.
Aside from artifacts, we are also interested in finding archaeological "features." As James Deetz (1967) succinctly stated, “Features are culturally produced objects which, unlike artifacts, cannot be taken from the field. They include fire pits, houses, and burials, to name but a very few. The artifacts from features can be collected, but the features themselves must be recorded in the field.” On historical archaeological sites, common features include trash pits, post holes, barrel features, wells, and privies. Features are frequently identified by soil changes (see picture). Features are important because they often represent intact deposits and can shed light onto how individuals utilized the landscape in the past. On Friday we unearthed our first new feature of the season! The feature appeared in the corner of one of the Units behind 124 so we cannot see the entire extent of the feature. We photographed the feature and created a scale plan view drawing of it on Friday. This week we will create a cross-section drawing and excavate the feature, which will hopefully explain the feature’s function and potentially reveal information about the lives of the Alley's past residents.

Finally, our first week could not have been as successful without the help from our enthusiastic volunteers. Those who have participated have had the opportunity to truly "get their hands dirty," aiding in excavating, screening, and measuring. We had great bunch of volunteers from the community ranging from a mathematics professor to an 8th grader interested in becoming an archaeologists to a former archaeologist who used to work in cultural resource management. We look forward to another great week with great volunteers. Be sure to come by this week and see our continuing progress!

Deetz, James
1967    Invitation to Archaeology. Natural History Press, Garden City.

1 comment:

  1. Exciting stuff! Glad to see you are making good progress. Can't wait to hear what's in that feature. I hope all this heat doesn't slow you down too much.