Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Week 7 Recap

The final week of official excavation at 124 and 126 Elfreth's Alley wrapped up on Saturday!  The week flew by and a lot of work was completed.  

First we finished digging Unit 8 behind 126 Elfreth’s Alley for the season.  Excavation in Unit 8 exposed the continuation of the brick foundation wall unearthed during testing in Unit 2 last sumer.  Based on historic maps, the location of the brick wall appears to correspond to the north-south wall of the tenement structure built in the 19th century.  The extant wall, however, is not completely intact.  At some point in history, either when the structure was being torn down or thereafter, sections of the foundation wall were destroyed.

Foundation wall unearthed in Unit 8.  Notice the bricks missing in left of picture.
Also of note is the fact that there appears to be a portion of the foundation wall extending to the west behind 126 Elfreth’s Alley.  This extension does not appear on the historic maps we have consulted.   Continuing archival research, as well as additional excavation at a later date, will help us understand this extension better. 

Excavation of Unit 11 and an extension south of Unit 11 were also completed last week.  The Unit and extension were taken down less than a foot to track the alignment of the large stone and mortar wall behind 124 Elfreth’s Alley.  By digging these units, we were able to trace the foundation wall and determine whether it is turning or whether it potentially extends into the adjacent lot to the south.  Our findings indicate the wall turns at the south edge of the lot line, indicating the structure conformed to the later historic lot divisions.  This is an informative and exciting find!

View of Uni 11 and extension facing south.

During Week 7, we started excavation on Unit 12 along the south edge of the lot at 126 Elfreth’s Alley.  Much like Unit 6 behind 124, Unit 12 has a plethora of features.  Right below the ground surface we encountered two courses of bricks that appear to be an extension of the existing garden planting bed the museum maintains.  

Volunteer working on Unit 12.  Note flowerbed wall in unit.

We also found five other features at various depths in Unit 12.  One of the features turned out to be another foundation wall!  This wall is brick and mortar and is likely the south wall of the 19th century tenement structure.  A little more excavation needs to be completed in Unit 12, before we backfill the site.

Unit 12 including foundation wall and features.
The next two weeks will be dedicated to wrapping things up at the Alley, mapping the site, taking photographs, and closing the excavation units.  During the fall and spring, the artifacts recovered from the dig will be washed, cataloged, and analyzed.  Next summer, we hope to return to the Alley for another season of excavation and to continue to explore the lots and the people who inhabited them.  It has been a pleasure working with all the volunteers this summer.  We couldn’t have do it with out your help!  Thank you again!!

This blog will be updated periodically over the next year with information about the project and upcoming events, lectures, and papers.