Week 1 wrap up, and what a week it was!

Hi everyone, Andrew here!

Okay, I’m still recovering from the heat, and even though today was a break (although I didn’t check, it was over 90 for sure), I need the weekend to wrap my head around what we found this week; I’m completely amazed at the surprises the site has thrown me!   The students are doing so good, they are strong and very interested in all of the things they are finding.  I can’t wait for the other half of the field school (currently at Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site) to come for Week 2 on Monday.  And, Jon’s students are in for the long haul and they are having a blast!

Today we continued work in a unit near the northern edge of the site. This unit lies directly over the moat, and the students have just reached the top of the moat soil.  A few pieces of a gray bodied salt glazed stoneware came up from this rich dirt and we were a little puzzled over what kind of stoneware it was.  We hadn’t seen it before on site.  Ceramic guru Martha Zierden went for the trusty and not-to-be-left-at-home copy of Ivor Noel-Hume’s Guide to Colonial Arifacts in America for a look at the British stoneware industry. Sure enough, it’s an early Fulham stoneware, a type invented in 1673.  You couldn’t get more “on” for 1670s stonewares!!  Martha declared that she hadn’t seen anything like this before, and for Martha to say this, it took me by surprise, given her vast knowledge of The Charleston Museum’s amazing collections, and site experience.  Just goes to show that the Lord Ashley site is one of the best around!

We wrapped up or almost wrapped up a few other units too. Yesterday one unit near the fireplace exposed a large possible pit feature, with lots of charcoal and animal bone.  I’m really excited about this deposit because it’s deposits like these that we learn about the people’s diets from. We can recover burned seeds from vegetables and fruits, potential fruit pits, and even burned grain kernels.  We’ll also take some low fired earthenware ceramics and adjoining soil for lipid analysis. When Native American, or African made unglazed ceramics were used to cook in, the food as a liquid enters the wall of the pot.  The lipids (technically the fats in plants, animals and fish) enter with the liquid, and they stay in the ceramic forever.  Our analyst can isolate the lipid profile in the ceramic sherds to reveal if plants or animals were ever cooked in the vessel. If the lipid profiles are strong or unique enough, they may even be able to suggest the specific foods once cooked and eaten.  We have to collect these samples very carefully and we can’t even touch the sherd, or the lipids in the oils in our hands can rub off on the sherd, and if we just ate lunch…I guess that roast beef sandwich looks like plants and animals too!  Archaeology isn’t all grunting out the dirt, and it’s not always judging the weight of a golden idol and a bag of sand, it’s some pretty rigorous methodologies and serious science too!

IMG_3011And in last news, we opened up a unit on top of the L-shaped brick pier that is the northeast corner of the building with the chimney (which is at the northwest corner). It’s still there, just as I remember it from 2009, but now we’re seeing the builder’s construction trench, which means we can date the construction of the pier!  Some postholes nearby it might be evidence of scaffolding that was used to build the house that was here.  Now we have to find those other corners!

Next week we’ll be looking for the south line of the moat and maybe another building on the outside of the fort.  Stay tuned!!!

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2 Responses to Week 1 wrap up, and what a week it was!

  1. English Struth says:

    Hi Andrew – this is fascinating stuff! Let me know if y’all need volunteers!

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