Back from a Long Break and Starting Anew

After a very long break that both myself, the instructors and the students sorely needed, we got back to work on June 9th. Over the break we were able to reflect on the work already accomplished and make decisions regarding what and where to go next.

100.U2. The end-grained wood mount occupies the let half of the photo. The iron straps (one is bent) lie on either side of a separate iron shim lying north-south at left-center.

For me, the possible mortar box housing (trough) in 100.T1 was the most interesting find so far, and therefore I really wanted to expand the diggings in the stamp room to better understand the arrangement of the stamps themselves. For my instructors, Dr.’s Scarlett and Sweitz, the orientation of the workings in the wash house (moving from NE to SW) meant that excavations to the east of the current trenches (101.T3, T4, and T7) had to take place. We decided to do both, but  focus on the stamp room first.

All of the diggings so far were in 4×2 meter trench units. For the new excavations in the stamp room, smaller units were decided on since just the possible mortar box was what we were interested in. We bracketed the mortar box trough on both sides with 1.5 x 1 meter units and named them 100.U1 and 100.U2 (I know, our naming is very generic and for everyone on the crew except myself, even more confusing). This way we would get a 6 meter long uninterrupted view of this possible housing of the stamp battery’s mortars, which could tell us about the dimensions of the batteries and the stamps that operated inside them.

100.U1. Here, only one iron strap is still in place, and the end-grained wood mount is severely damaged.

We knew from the eastern profile of 100.T1 that there was a end-grained piece of wood resting atop a 12 cm thick iron brace and another wood slab below that. The only reason for this type of configuration is that whatever sat on top of this wood/iron/wood layer cake had to be heavy. Early on in the excavation of 100.U2 (located off the eastern side of 100.T1) Meghan came upon two iron straps in the south end of the unit that originally sat upright though one was bent over. These upright iron straps were bolted into the end-grained wood mentioned previously, and this supported our belief that something heavy and large was mounted here. On the opposite side of the wood, where two other iron straps could be expected, there weren’t any, but the bolts that once held them in place were.

In 100.U2 (off the western side of 100.T1) the same layer cake of wood/iron/wood was found but instead of two iron straps on the south side sitting on top, there was only one. The end-grained wood was also only half the size and damaged. It was likely that when whatever was housed here was removed, half of the mount was ripped out with it.

So what was going on here? It was still too early to guess but if you look at this photo, you might be able to piece it together. Otherwise, the answer will have to wait until tomorrow.

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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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