Wednesday, August 17, 2011

2011 Day 4: Finding Cool Stuff

Today we accomplished quite a bit at the Jospeh Howland site.  Several of today's volunteers are from Plimoth Plantation and had participated in the 2010 excavation.  Before we got started, Derek explained to the group what had been done before and what we were hoping to accomplish this year.

We had a few more people than yesterday, so everything was moving pretty quick- much to the chagrin of our screeners. 

Its was a bit congested at the screens today.

But, it looks like we are in a good place.  This  year, we are hoping not only to find the large foundation stones of the structures, but also areas that were previously excavated in 1959 or 1969.  At the very end of the day, it looked as if we may have found one of the locations of the previous excavations.  Jane and Melody's unit had quite a few rocks, but once they moved the rocks and got down into the next level, a very interesting pattern in the soil appeared.

Don't see it?  How about this?

Back in the 1959/69 excavations the archaeologists left unexcavated spaces between each unit called a bulk.  The bulks at the Joseph Howland site are areas of dark soil surrounded by areas of artifact free, light colored soil.  By finding these bulks we are able to align our excavation with previous excavations.  This is very encouraging.

Of course, no excavation is complete without a few cool artifacts here's a selection of what we found today:

A buckle
A book clasp (like what you usually see on diaries today)
Neck of a medicine bottle
Pewter button.
And the star, a thimble!
Of course, with only a week to excavate we often need to expidite the process.  So, we untilize a technique called "shovel scraping."  Instead of digging straight down, we still dig as level as possible...with shovels instead of trowels.  It requires special care and some practice to get it right, but under a trained hand it allows us to excavate more quickly.

Michael Gi. demonstrates correct shovel scraping technique.
Here are some overhead shots from today:

From left:  Michael Go., Joanne, Muriel, Pam, and Anna

Eldon (white hat) and Jonathan dig while Brad (blue hat) and Jim supervise.

From left:  Dick, Betty, Randy, Tatiana, Dave, and Jan handle the screens.
While many of the volunteers are descendants of the pilgrim John Howland, the success of "The Dig" depends a great deal on all the other volunteers (and most especially the archaeolgists from Virginia) that particpate in the annual excavation:

Thank you, everyone!

From left: (Top Row)  Dick, Tatiana, Vicki, Bill, Anna (archaeologist), Dave (archaeologist), Michael, Jane, Derek (archaeologist), Mrs. Gorham and "Harry"
Bottom row:  Martha and Jim
Tomorrow is the last full day of excavating, so hopefully we will be able to answer several questions that still remain concerning the Joseph Howland site.

Only time will tell...

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