May 30th: Back After a Long Break
Today was my first day back with the team since last Friday and it had been a full week since work was done at the stamp mill. We recently purchased a new GPS unit and it took me a couple of days to get it working properly, and then I left for a weekend trip to Duluth. While I was away the students kept working in Clifton digging test pits and mapping the various structures of the site.
So where did we leave off? Oh yes, we only had one unit opened. We excavated Unit 4 to a point where we felt we were sitting just above a working surface. Unfortunately this surface was where I was hoping to find a depression where a set of 4 stamp mortars were housed. This would have been in keeping with what we found last year a few meters to the east. Perhaps the mortars were just above (to the north) of this floor?
To test this new hypothesis we set in a new unit SM.100.U9 immediately to the north of Unit 4. This is just a 1×2 meter unit and we were able to work through it pretty quickly. By the close of morning the top soil and uppermost layer (level 1) of roots and leaf matter was gone, photographed, and drawn. After lunch we worked through level 2 and encountered a few interesting features/artifacts.
The western third of the unit had many fragments of tar paper scattered amongst the (expected) rocky sediment. This tar paper came from the roof of Warren’s mill after it burned in the 1920’s. Last year, tar paper was found just lying atop the stamp mortars. Perhaps this would be the case again.
It wasn’t. Instead we found more rocks and a two-inch thick board sloping from the north wall about 50 cm. At this point it looks to just be a collapsed portion of the mill building but we still need to be careful around it just in case it’s lying in situ. The third thing encountered was a sediment deposit that was very compact and clay-like. This is located in the northern half of the unit and is very irregular and undulating in topography. This is unlike any deposit we came upon last year so this is unexpected and exciting. Tomorrow we hope to get to the same level that we are at in Unit 4 so that we can then clean up this working surface first seen a week ago.