Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 6- The Last Day!

Today was the final day of the 2008 Excavations at Rocky Nook. Most of it was taken up with backfilling all the units we opened up this year. That was hard and dirty work! It can be a little frustrating to fill everything back in after just one week, but everyone was happy to know that we answered several questions this year that have been on our list for some time. In the afternoon we were all rewarded with a relaxing sail on the shallop Elizabeth Tilley. It was a beautiful time. A big thank you to Tracy and her crew for taking us out!

Although we did not find the cellars that Deetz excavated in '68, we should be able to locate them next year. We now have a definite location of one of his grids that passed through a trash midden. Also, we may have discovered where his original datum might have been. We also found several interesting artifacts. Besides the spur and knife fragment, we uncovered a thimble, two beads, a straight pin, and a book clasp. Some of you may remember the nearly complete redware jug that Pamela and Alex found last year. Michael may have discovered more of it in the unit he was working on. There were also the usual ceramic sherds, pipe stems and bowls, window glass, and nails. All in all, it was a very satisfying year. I hope all of you enjoyed keeping up with our progress.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Rocky Nook project, especially through the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Everyone Hard at Work

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Day 5

The dirt pile is getting bigger...
Father and son, Ted and Alex, continue to excavate
Richard's knife fragment (the hilt is on the right)
The feature as it is now A couple of our questions were answered today. We finished excavating one of Deetz's test units. At the bottom was the rest of the Coca-cola bottle that we found yesterday, further convincing us that we had found one of the grids he opened in '68. The area that we opened yesterday, where the crew cleared all that brush, did not contain evidence of the cellars. So, we know where they are not located. However, nothing else was uncovered in those units either, indicating that we may have found where he had his datum (they would not have placed it where they would be excavating). Richard's unit definitely yielded the most artifacts this year. He had to use two hands to carry his bag by the end of the day. One of the items he recovered was a knife fragment that still had the hilt attached. Tomorrow we will do a little more digging, photographing, and mapping before we close up the excavation for the year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Look Out! Derek Clears the Way

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Day 4

Richard is ready to go!
Ray and Jonathan discussing the new possible location of the cellars
The some of the artifacts ready to come up in Chris' unit

The Coca-Cola bottle fragment that answered one of our questions
First of all, apologies for the delay on yesterday's report. The internet connection was down until this afternoon due to the storm that passed through yesterday afternoon. Please scroll down to find out what happened.
We had a very productive day at Rocky Nook. Derek, Dave, Beth, and Jesse took another look at Deetz's map and decided that there might be a possibility that one of his datum points had been based off of the Joseph monument. So with machetes, clippers, and a chainsaw the group tackled more brush so new units could be opened up. Hopefully, within the next day or so we may find one of the cellars within those units. Ray who dug with Deetz as a child in 1968 came out to help today and it was great to have him on board. Meanwhile, two more units were put in near the area where the group worked four years ago with the hope they would yield more artifacts. Also, a quadrant was plotted out in the large block in order discover for certain whether or not we are looking at Deetz's old test units. After going down about a foot through the lighter, nearly artifact free soil the sterile sub-soil was reached. Sitting neatly on top of the sub-soil was a 1960's era Coca-Cola bottle fragment. This little bottle glass fragment definitivly answered the question of whether or not these were Deetz'z units. He thankfully left an "I was here" message for us in the bottom. We have been looking for an indication of Deetz's excavations for five years and we finally have one! So, tomorrow we will continue to explore the new units and most likely investigate some sections of the midden that were not excavated by Deetz in '68.

Day 3

Our progress so far
Dick, Alex, and Betty at the screen
Beth, Pamela, and Karen working in their units
Chris and the spur he found
Today we continued in the units we opened up yesterday. In the morning Chris, a new volunteer this year, uncovered a spur (Image 4). So far, it has been one of the most interesting finds of the year. Mother nature was working on our clock today and decided to send the rain storm during lunch. Some of us, however, had to eat in the downpour. The sun return just in time to start again and we were able to continue. By the end of the day is was becoming clear that the large area we opened up may be one of the areas that Deetz worked during the 1968 excavation. The artifact rich soil was broken up by 4 1/2 foot squares evenly spaced. So tomorrow we will do our best to clear up what this feature is.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Day 2

The group at work
Michael helps take unit elevations
Derek excavating in one of the units near the feature
Jonathan at the screen

Some artifacts from Richard's unit

Today we began the excavation. We opened up five units that surround the feature which was uncovered last year (Image 1) exposing an area of 225 sq. ft. By doing this, we hope to get a better understanding of what the feature is. At this point we have found that it extends in an irregular way, which is frustrating because we still can not yet tell what it is. It is possible that we have finally found where Deetz and his team excavated in the 1960's, or perhaps we have uncoverd an 18th century midden from a time after the Howland occupation, or maybe it is in fact something left behind from a building foundation. With regard to artifacts, we did not discover anything particularly noteworthy today. Richard displayed a typical selection of artifacts on his screen (Image 5 - wrought nails, window glass, ceramics, shell, animal bone, and pipe bowls and stems.) We hope to find something more diagnostic in the days ahead. While artifacts are exciting, the main priority is to figure out what the feature is. The investigation continues tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day 1

We began work today out at Rocky Nook. Today's activities mostly involved removing some pretty mean thistles that had taken over in the past year, clearing brush from new areas to excavate (Image 4), and setting up the grid (Image 1). So, there are not many exciting things to report yet. However, we uncovered the feature (Image 2) which we found last year, and it has remained in pretty good shape (Image 3). Kudos to everyone today for working hard and braving the thorns. Stay tuned, the real fun begins tomorrow!

Friday, July 18, 2008


We've had all the responses back from the regular Howlands and this year we will have a smaller crew, trimmed by half. If anyone is interested in trying it out this year, feel free to contact us.

During the week of the meeting there will be a TLC session for the items from the Strickland and Deetz excavations being stored by Plimoth Plantation. Volunteers are always welcome for that as well!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Clay Tobacco Pipes

Some of the most common and exciting finds we get at Rocky Nook are clay tobacco pipe fragments. Typically, we find stems, but sometimes also bowl fragments and sometimes complete bowls! These pipes and fragments can be excellent diagnostic artifacts because style and form changed rather uniformly through time. For example, early pipes have very small bowls and later ones very large ones. Also the diameter of the bore in the stem for drawing the smoke from the bowl changes through time as well, becoming smaller and smaller. Earlier pipes were also shorter in length than the later ones.

Pipe smoking was introduced to England during the reign of Elizabeth I, but it did not become truly trendy until James I tried to ban it. It was not long until pipe smoking was fashionable among all classes, genders, and ages. It was clearly popular in the Howland household. Hundreds of fragments of various bowls and stems have been found on both the John and Joseph sites.