May 26th, Continued: Water, Water, Everywhere

Volunteer, Brandon and field student, Nick, try to stay dry in 101.T6. Water is discharging from under the beam running through the center of the image.

Today was a pretty busy day. 100.T1 was for the most finished, and therefore new units could be opened up in both the stamp room (100) and wash house (101). The first of these new trench units was opened in the wash house 8 meters south of 101.T3. This trench (101.T6)is much lower in elevation than the previous and we hoped would inform us about the direction of the work/process of washing copper.

Unlike 100.T1 and 100.T3, the surface and first level of this trench was nearly devoid of artifacts. The soil was grey stamp sand no different from that found in those previous trenches. Underneath the grey stamp sand was a reddish layer of stamp sand, a material that will make itself known in almost every unit and trench we’ll open from here on out. If you click on the photo at right you can just make out the differences in the sand colors in the profile (unfortunately the sun made taking good photographs nearly impossible that day).

Here is a view from the east. At right is a course of stone that is likely an interior foundation wall for the wash house. At left is the wood beam with rubble pushed up against it. Water is discharging from underneath the beam.

At the south end of the trench a wood beam running from east to west was found not too far under the surface. Working north, many angular stones of all sizes were found as well. Since they were angular and not rounded by either water or glacial activity in the past, we knew they were from deep in the mine. These stones got smaller and smaller as the deposit moved north, until it abutted a series of larger, angular stones laid in course. These stones comprise a wall, likely an interior foundation, for the wash house. When we measured their distance from both the beginning and end of what we believe is the wash house’s dimensions, the wall was exactly 50 feet from each, putting it right smack dab in the middle of an 100 foot long structure.

Now back to the wood beam. As you can see in the photo at the top of the post, there was a lot of water in 101.T6. This water is discharging from underneath the beam, and when it was freed from the overlying soil, actually changed the water course that normally flows just to the west of this area. What had we found exactly? It may be part of the internal water system used for washing copper to it could simply be a discharge from an existing water reservoir under the building. My guess is they knew about this water under the building and that’s exactly why they built it here. regardless, things got too wet to continue for now. Focus needed to shift to another new unit trench begun the same day, and one that was closing.

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About Sean Gohman

Currently a PhD Degree seeking student in the Michigan Tech University's Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program.

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