May 27th: Just Where is the Floor in this Place, Anyway?

Eric (lying down) and myself trying to find the bottom of the wash house in 101.T3 I'm sitting in there by the way, not standing.

The wood working surface uncovered in 101.T3 a few days prior was soon found to end about 1 meter short of the 4 meter long trench. We’re not sure if the floor was ripped out or if it was designed to end at that point. It may even have continued as removable planking, and just happened to have been removed long ago. What is for certain is that the last 1 meter or so occupying the south end of 101.T3 is a complicated mess.

At upper right, the box. The trough/launder moves overflow material SW from the box and then jogs west, out of the trench. If you look closely you can see groves worn into the trough at bottom left corner.

First, protruding out of the east profile was a box, 75 cm square in size. Its depth was about 50 cm and at its bottom was found a thin layer of copper residue (or fines). Jutting out from (but not directly connected to) this box was a sluice/launder slightly angled downward. Its orientation was NE to SW and after about 1.25 meters, it jogged west and continued out the west profile of the trench. Defining these features with a trowel was pretty easy, but the areas surrounding them were getting tighter and tighter to work in, and they appeared to have no end to them. As you can see in the photo above, Nick had to reach into the unit to remove material and I had to climb inside. I was sitting on a small wood platform but there were areas below me that continued down probably a meter from the surface. At this point, we have no idea how far down this building goes.

Back to the trough/launder, its top end was severely damaged due to charring, and its overall state was extremely fragile. It was so bad that originally we thought it was rubble, and not lying in situ. We decided to cut it out and only after we started cutting with a saw did we realize it was in place. Due to its fragility, we decided to leave the material inside the trough as it was what was holding it all together. We did remove the material inside at the point where the trough/launder turned west, and found that the water and material that flowed through it historically was traveling at a strong enough rate to actually cut rivulets of grooves throughout its length. Also, there were pockets of copper fines scattered on its surface.

So what did we find? Well, I’m not exactly sure if its related to the washing process or simply waste removal. The material collected in the box must have overflowed into the trough, since it is not connected via a valve or hole in the side of the box. If this is the case, only the lighter material would have run down the launder, meaning it is for waste product. But, there were fines found in the trough as well, so I could be wrong. We’ll just have to open up the trench to the west to see where this trough/launder goes.

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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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