Results from June 24, 2006

A nice break in the weather continued today -- overcast with a nice breeze and no rain to interrupt us! The high of 85 or so was much more appreciated than our recent high of 95+.

Today was the third of our four "Volunteer Saturdays" when students work with volunteers from the interested public as an outreach project. Our thanks to the volunteers for today: Edward and Marcia Beahm, Howie and Kay Brainerd, Edie Crane, Georgia Dennis, Ellis Durham, George Heinrich, Caroline Kiev, Steaven C. Robbins, Lib Roller, Judy A. Shook, and Angela Stroupe.

With the hard work of almost a dozen of our student crew members and the volunteers, we accomplished a great deal today. We worked on three areas today: 1) the three trench area; 2) the circular pit area; and 3) a set of two units to the south of the three trenches.

On the western edge of our excavations, numerous students and volunteers worked on further exposing the large circular pit/structure and interior features. Below, Erica, Caroline, Edie, and Alex continue to remove the midden/trash fill from over the floor of this feature.

The midden continues to produce a variety of spectacular objects that will eventually tell us more about the daily lives of the native inhabitants of this town. The photos below show a fragment of deer jaw, a large piece of a fabric-impressed pan, and a piece of Dover flint (probably a resharpening flake from a prehistoric hoe).

Meanwhile, Robin, Lynne, Tracy, and Ryan worked to complete the new unit down to the top of Feature 4. When we closed up today, they had removed the circa 45 cm of plowzone and flood deposits. On Monday, we'll start trowelling that area to find the southern edge of our circular pit. Below, Robin, Lynne and Tracy take measurements on that unit.

A few meters to the east, students and volunteers worked to expose and excavate the midden-filled pit described a few days ago. Below, Ellis, Richard, Jonathan, Natalie and Chris are exposing numerous intriguing artifacts.

This "trash pit" has yielded a large sample of animal bones (remains of ancient meals), pottery fragments, copper, stone tool fragments, and other remains. While we had hoped to find an extension of our "palisade trench" in this unit -- we didn't. The reason is explained below.

In the units over and around our "three trenches" -- we seem to have answered one of my "burning questions." Below, Bekah works with Howie, Kay and Lib to further identify the outlines of the large pit in this area.

Meanwhile, Jesse took on the onerous task of opening a new unit -- with great vim and vigor, he stripped the sod and excavated the entire unit down to the top of our trenches (with some able help by Howie).

His hard work seems to have answered one of our burning questions -- these are not rebuildings of a palisade trench. They are rebuildings of an exceptionally large wall-trench house. Two of our three trenches end -- but one turns a corner to the east.

While Jesse worked on this, Emily and Georgia continued excavation of the middle trench as shown below.

Looking from the opposite direction, we have two wall trenches that end without turning and one that turns to the east. The blue shows the "new discoveries" today.

So, sadly, I abandon my hypothesis that we may have found the palisade wall for the ancient town. But, happily, I acknowledge the discovery of an amazing and important large wall-trench house. Sometimes, the answers to our questions are only a few inches away beneath the earth. Between our circular pit and this large wall-trench house -- we will not be able to do much more exploration in the next two weeks. The search for the palisade wall will have to wait until next year.

We are obviously in the midst of several buildings on the eastern edge of the site -- the photograph below is from 1939 excavations of a similar site in Henry County. It shows a series of wall trench houses -- note that the one in the center of the photo has numerous "rebuildings" of walls.

Image courtesy: July 18, 1939; 16HY1 Williams Site 1HY1, Henry County, Tennessee. Photograph of "street". Rectangular trench and postmold pattern. Structures in order away from camera - Feature 15, 24, 25, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 20. Squares 12L13 to 15R4. Direction north.; Frank H. McClung Museum WPA/TVA Archive (fhm01003)

In the next two weeks remaining to us -- we'll focus on examining the circular pit/structure and the wall-trench house in detail.