FIeld School, Week 3: Getting Started in Clifton

Week three saw us getting started in Clifton. I just finished explaining why we returned to do more excavation in the part of Clifton we call the “interyard.” Lee Presley wanted to expand her understanding of what we thought was a slaughtering and butchering activity area.  We also wanted to expand our understanding of the use of yard space around the boarding houses, so we decided to put trenches into two main areas.

First, we returned to the 2012 trench excavation.  We placed two new five meter long trenches that stretched perpendicular to last year’s trench.  One trench would run at 50N between 19E and 24E, the other would run at 52N for the same distance to the east. This is the drawing I put together for us to use in the field:

Planned trenches for the 2013 season, drawn alongside the 2012 excavation unit.

A new drawing of the 2012 trench, showing the architectural remains uncovered during excavation. The plan drawing also shows the 2013 excavation trenches laid out and ready for digging.

We planned to start by excavating these trenches down until we hit the surfaces of the building- the wood floor surface that may be the barn and then the more ephemeral joists and boards set in the clean, fine sand.  If we have time, we planned to put a third trench in, running from the end of the 2012 trench. That last trench would allow us to recover more butchered animal bones and look at potential post holes and other items from the northern most part of the 2012 trench.  We wondered about that one, since it was below the ground water table last year and filled with water too quickly to allow for good archaeological excavation.

Laying out units in the "interyard" before the trees had leaves.

Laying out units in the “interyard” before the trees had leaves.

In order to get another comparative view of yard space around this group of boarding houses, we decided to put a trench near a building on the other side of the street, directly to the south.  That trench would allow us to cross cut between the wall of one building, through the yard, and perhaps even showing the road construction.  Since that trench sits underneath a GIGANTIC apple tree, it quickly became known as Trench A.

An old apple tree right next to one of the Clifton houses, with Trench A underneath.  Excavation had just begun.

An old apple tree right next to one of the Clifton houses, with Trench A underneath. Excavation had just begun.

I will return to the map I posted earlier today to show these two spots on the town plan.

2013 Trench locations on the Clifton GIS.

2013 Trench locations on the Clifton GIS.

Enough for today- I have to finish getting ready to head back into the field tomorrow!

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About Timothy James Scarlett

Associate Professor of Archaeology at Michigan Technological University.

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