May 24th: The Focus Moves South
Excavation of 101.T3 began on May 17th. By the 24th, field students Eric and Nick were beginning to wonder if they were ever going to find anything. The other students working above and to the north of them in 100.T1 struck wood features within the first couple of hours of digging.
This trench is located just 1 meter south of where we suspect the stamp room drops down into the wash house, the area where copper is separated from crushed sand and water. This area appeared to be buried under quite a lot of debris and sediment, possibly as a result of the tearing down of the large mill and the subsequent construction of Warren’s Mill* In the photo at right you can see the difference in elevation from where the students began digging and where the surface of the ground in a few meters past them (at top of image). They knew they’d be digging through a lot of fill (with little hope of finding artifacts in their original context), but since this was their first excavation, we tasked them with working slowly, and collecting every nail, broken piece of glass, and random stuff they came across.
Well, during the first few days of digging Nick and Eric came upon many pieces of wood just lying in heaps. Nearly all of these pieces showed signs of charring, indicating a fire. We know that Warren’s Mill burned in the 1920’s so it was assumed these were pieces of rubble from that smaller, later mill. Again, since they were new to this sort of thing, we had them carefully remove each piece, hopefully understanding that patience is a virtue in archaeology.
By the end of the third day, the layers of burnt rubble disappeared, and Nick and Eric were free to dig a little more vigorously. That only lasted a few minutes however, as they soon hit a surface-a really well-preserved surface.
This wood “floor” was very level given its 150 years. In some places the floor was stained with concreted copper residue, an excellent sign for people trying to identify a wash house. It extended from the north end of the trench down to just past midway, though on the west side it was truncated by a vertical standing board. This board will receive more attention in an upcoming post. At the end of the day, Nick and Eric finally had something to brag about to their peers working in 100.T1 and the stamp room… a floor… and the starting point for most of our work in the next three weeks.
*See post titled “One Site, Three Mills”