Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20: Dig Day 4

Emily and Jan sifting.

The large open area being cleaned.

The dark stain visible in this picture could be an indication of the previous excavation or a cellar foundation.

Once again we did not have any vandalism at the site today. Plus, the temperatures were much cooler than the rest of the week. We were very thankful on both points. We had one new volunteer join us today, Emily an intern from Plimoth Plantation, and it was a pleasure to have another zealous worker to help us finish. We opened up three more squares, one to the northwest of the main grid and two which extended the large open area further. None of them turned up anything significant with respect to artifacts, but the two added to the grid were able to show us more about what is going on. Unfortunately, it isn't showing us enough. There are many possibilities of what we are seeing. One could be that we are in an area that Deetz never dug, another could be that we are on a cellar and haven't gone deep enough to see the rest of the stone, or that this is indeed a section of his grid that he did not dig very deeply. Unfortunately, due to the make-up of the soil and our limited time here, we probably cannot make a conclusion about what we are seeing. That means, of course, we will be coming back next year! Tomorrow is backfill day, but maybe a light will turn on before we close up for the year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19: Dig Day 3

Richard and Beth hard at work.

Jonathan working on his third unit.

Good evening everyone. I'm pleased to report that we did not have any vandalism last night! Between the Kingston Police and Ray Sr. (a.k.a, The Admiral) we may have scared them off. Our spirits were much higher this morning because of that.

So, we were able to get to work right away. Today we opened 5 more units, thus opening the largest continuous area ever. We couldn't have pulled this off if it weren't for the help of all the volunteers. We are still in search of the cellars and the Deetz excavation area. Even though we have this huge area open, nothing is looking definitive yet. However, something always turns up on the last day. One highlight of the day was the discovery of a Westerwald rim and body sherd. It showed up just as we were getting ready to call it a day. It was also great to see Jan again after a couple years. She was definitely missed. We've got a great crew this year. Hopefully tomorrow, on the last day of digging for this year, we will find what we're looking for.

Uncovering the Westerwald

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August 18: Dig Day 2

Today's Damage

So once again, the day dawned with the discovery of vandalism at the Joseph site! Today's damage was more severe than yesterday. They kicked holes in our screens, stole our rakes, yanked a rock out of one of the test units, pulled up all our string, and stomped around on Ray and Marcia's midden (thankfully, nothing significant was broken). The police came out again and took another report. They promised to do what they can to track the thieves. Hopefully, that will work out, but we're coming to the conclusion that this is going to be a daily frustration. Errr!

Alex, Pamela, Marcia, and Ray excavating their units.

Dave and Sarah Cleaning Their Unit
After we repaired the screens and restrung all the units we were finally able to get to work. It was another hot one today, so everyone was chugging the water and taking lots of shade breaks. Two more squares were opened today and we had a few more workers to get cracking on them. Ray and Marcia moved to this new location and it wasn't long before they were turning up more artifacts, notably a large quantity of nails. The cellars did not turn up today either, but Sarah and Dave found more midden that was chock full of artifacts including redware bowl sherds, copper banding, an iron strip, pipe stems and bowls, and animal bone. They also found a buckle.
The buckle in situ with redware sherds and brick.
Although we have not been successful in finding the cellars yet, we hope that the work tomorrow will shed more light on where we are located in relation to the work done in the 60's. That, of course, is our ultimate goal. We have three days left, so we all are feeling positive that this can be accomplished. In the meantime, we will be keeping our eyes open for those dastardly vandals.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17: Dig Day 1

Today was the official beginning of the dig. We arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed at 8am to discover that some local kids had vandalized the site overnight. We had mistakenly left some of our equipment behind, namely saws and machetes, and they used them to chop down some of our precious shade trees and destroy the plastic sheeting we use to cover the units. Then they ran off with our machetes. Needless to say, this was extremely angering. However, the Kingston police were notified and they will be driving by frequently after hours. Hopefully, this is the last we will hear of the vandals.

Our poor shade!

We had a good sized crew today. Most of us were regulars, but we had a couple of new faces this year too. Welcome to Leslie and Melanie! Six units were opened today with the hope of tracking down those cellars. Two of the units seem promising at this point since there is a lack of cultural material and rocks in the soil. But, we will see. Ray and Marcia seem to have come across more of the midden from last year, so they found the bulk of the artifacts today including nails, wine bottle glass, a pewter button, ceramics, pipe bowls and stems as well as animal bone. Sarah found a piece of Westerwald ceramic in her unit. Jonathan claims the prize for best artifact of the day with his possible spoon knop (end of the handle).

Excavating the units

Ray and Marcia's Midden (its there, trust me)

Jonthan's Spoon Knop

Of course we ended up on the hottest week of the summer. For the sake of everyone's health, we decided to adjust our hours from 7:30 to 3:30. They are calling for temperatures past 90 tomorrow...sigh. Hopefully, we will find something cool to make up for our suffering.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Michael and Jesse The Destroyers!

August 16: Prep Day

Today we grabbed all our equipment and headed out to the site to clear brush and lay out this year's excavation units. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but it will probably be one of the toughest days we will have. The temperature was close to 90 degrees and the brush was this rare specie of man-eating blackberry cane. Although the site caretaker did a fantastic job of maintaining the area over the past year, it always works out that we need to clear a little more. Thankfully, Jonathan brought his chainsaw and we had enough people to pitch in to hack and rake. Kudos to Michael and Jesse for single-handedly picking up the massive bush and moving it to the other side of the property! Nature lost today's battle, but I think we will be feeling a little stiff tomorrow.


Let's Kill This!

Shooting in the Squares

We've narrowed the cellar location down to two possible places. So, we are opening one 10 by 15ft. and two 5 by 10ft. areas with the hope of locating it. Hopefully we will have our questions answered this year.

The disappointing discovery we made was the extent of the damage done by the looting (reported earlier this year). They dug down to our previous level in the large grid square from last year. We are not sure if they stopped at our final level or if they went past. Someone also removed our datum, which was extremely frustrating but quickly remedied.

By the end of the work day, we had the entire area cleared and our grid squares were laid in. Tomorrow the fun truly begins!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rock Nook 2009: August 16-21st

One week from now, we will be back at Rocky Nook hard at work. Hopefully, we will locate that foundation this year. All of those tuned in to the blog this year, keep your fingers crossed for us. Its so close, I can almost taste it! I'm extremely excited to get back and see what we will discover.

This year we will have a great crew, with about 12-18 people volunteering every day. Of course, Derek and his crew from Virginia will be coming back to guide us through the adventure again.

The weather is looking about the same as every other year, with at least one stormy day looming in the forecast. Hopefully we will not be caught under a tree in the rain during lunch this year.

Like last year, I'll be updating the blog every evening with a description of the day along with photos and video (internet performance permitting, of course). There will not be an update on Friday due to a hectic schedule of meetings, the digger sail, and the Society dinner. I will try to post Friday's report ASAP after getting back to Ohio.

Please remember, you can post your comments/questions after each post. I'm looking forward to hearing from and seeing lots of you at the Meeting next week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reports of Site Looting

Over the past week some of our members went to the site to see how its holding up. Unfortunately, there were several signs that someone was pot hunting at the Joseph site. This type of activity has been going on at Rocky Nook for decades. It is a tremendous shame that we've been losing pieces of our history to selfish individuals looking for a knick-knack for their mantel or something to make a quick buck on eBay. Looting is crime, and not just because it vandalizes the property. It also robs us of the complete picture of the Howland sites and a better understanding of our nation's past.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First Round of Conservation Completed

Hi All,

After quite a lull in Rocky Nook news, I've got some fun pictures to hold you over till August. We just got some preliminary photos back of the first items sent to the conservator. Everything looks really amazing now, and should stay that way for quite some time. These items and more will probably be available to see in person at the dig this year. Check them out!