Saturday, December 8, 2007
We haven't done a 'Wacky Find of the Week' before, and we probably will not make a habit of it, but here we go.
Volunteers Carol, Elsie and Phil tolerated some very cold, windy, and snowy weather this past week, along with April, Pete, Scott, and me. In partial reward, we found the spoon pictured above. Very likely it belonged to one of the Barbour children...we found it in a shovel test pit (#418) in front of Stagg Hall.
The photograph does not do it justice, but it is a Snow White Spoon, the sleepy princess appearing at the top of the obverse side and the seven dwarf's on both sides of the handle. Bashful, Sneezy, and Doc are on the obverse side, Grumpy, Happy, Dopey and Sleepy on the reverse. The spoon is marked "1847 Rogers Bros" and bears the copyright mark of WD (Walt Disney).
This is a highly significant find. As soon as we figure out why, we will let you know. Anyone care to research it and find out when it was made (not 1847, obviously)?
Friday, December 7, 2007
Tuesday the team was shovel testing in front of the Chimney House and Stagg Hall. While screening the soil from STP 409, they recovered a Lincoln cent, then a Late Archaic projectile point, and then another Lincoln cent. Sometime during the process they also recovered a sherd of British Brown stoneware.
The pennies are dated 1942 and 1948. The point is several thousand years old, and the ceramic sherd is an 18th-century import (probably from before the American Revolution). Together this group of objects illustrates one of the principal limitations of digging shovel test pits that are less than 1½-ft in diameter: we can't control for stratigraphy. That is, we aren't sure whether these four artifacts came from one layer of soil or several, nor do we know if the point came from the lowest portion of the soil profile, the sherd from the middle, and the two pennies from the upper. We can be sure that they represent aboriginal, 18th-century Euro-American, and 1940s occupation of the immediate vicinity.
We do not know whether the layers of soil representing those occupations retain their integrity; that is, whether or not they have been disturbed by utility installation, cultivation, or driveway construction. That is why we need to dig larger units (3 ft by 3 ft, or 5 ft by 5 ft) in which we can carefully remove one layer, or stratum, at a time and collect the artifacts separately for each. Hopefully, we will begin digging such larger units in the Spring.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
First the good news: There was no wind out at Port Tobacco today. The last two days saw gusts up to 40mph and we were exhausted from trying to stay upright.
Now the bad news: There was a constant wet snow today which turned us into muddy frozen popsicles. I could not feel my toes for most of the day. I was happy to get home and discover they were still attached.
We completed the shovel test pit survey of the front yard of Stagg Hall. We recovered more fire cracked rock and other evidence of a prehistoric occupation of this area. We also encountered a large number of tobacco pipe stems and stoneware near the village square, possibly suggestive of the location of an 18th century tavern.
We then moved into the rear yard of the Chimney House in an attempt to identify the location of Atzerodt's carriage shop. The artifact density was relatively low in the rear yard but what we did find was mainly architectural debris. The findings are inconclusive at this point but once the artifacts are washed and analyzed we may have a better idea of what was located there.
We have decided to cancel fieldwork for tomorrow. The site is a muddy mess and it will take a few days for the soils to dry out. We will still be working, just in the comforts of the Gibb Archaeological Consulting headquaters. The last three days have produced an artifact assemblage that needs to be processed and Jim and I have more grant applications to work on.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
We are looking forward to two more days in the field and can hopefully finish the yards of Stagg Hall and Chimney House. I just found out today that Atzerodt's carriage shop was located directly behind the Chimney House. I'll let you know if we find any supporting evidence.
It was another cold day at Port Tobacco. We continued our shovel test pit survey at Chimney House and Stagg Hall. We recovered artifacts from a wide range of time periods. One STP contained a quartz projectile point along with two pennies from the 1940s. Another had a fragment of incised prehistoric pottery. The Native American occupation of the site may have been much more significant than we had thought.
Monday, December 3, 2007
This is our first official foray into the north part of Port Tobacco so we are a bit short on interpretation until we have a chance to do more research. For now we will just say that the artifacts recovered today are likely the remnants of the row of businesses that fronted on the north side of the village square.
The team will be back at the site tomorrow, regardless of what Mother Nature throws our way. Wednesday may be a different matter. With snow/sleet/rain forcasted, we may need to spend that day in the lab.