Saturday, December 29, 2007

Where is the Centennial?

As archaeologists, we pride ourselves on how clever we can be in figuring out what happened long ago with little more evidence than a few potsherds and nails. Sometimes, however, we are humbled: our clever methods produce seemingly conflicting results. That may be the story for our work around the Centennial Hotel site.

Centennial Hotel, ca. 1915.

Our shovel testing in this portion of the field owned by the Compton family produced large numbers of artifacts including those that could be attributed to the 18th century (creamware, white salt-glazed stoneware, Westerwald stoneware, etc.) and to the early 19th century (sp., pearlware). We simulated the distributions of these two groups of ceramic sherds based on the actual values recovered from our test pits. Notice the results:

Distribution of 18th-century ceramics in the area of the Centennial Hotel.

Distribution of pearlware in the area of the Centennial Hotel.

The distributions do not match. The earlier material clusters close to the village green, the later material is 50 ft further to the south. The 18th-century material corresponds more closely to the approximate location of the hotel based on the 1888 survey of the town (red polygons on the maps).
Are we seeing different patterns in trash disposal, the later material being discarded farther from the buildings, or are there two sets of structures. We need to dig more holes.

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