Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sometimes Shovel Testing Just Doesn't Work

Maybe we were cursed by the Blue Dog or maybe Scott put a hex on us for having fun without him, either way yesterday's fieldwork did not turn out as planned.

You may recall that our last day of fieldwork was during a wet and cold day in December. We were anxious to get to the rear yard of Chimney House where Atzerodt's carriage shop is reputed to have been located. While laying in the transects along which we were to shovel test, I thought I could pick up the faint depressions that often mark the locations of buried foundation. The crew was cold and wet but focused on the mission. The wet snow picked up and the ground became too muddy to continue and we left the field before completing our mission.

Yesterday we set out to finish what we had started. It was warm and sunny so the conditions seemed right. But it did not take us long to realize that the rear yard of the Chimney House is just too marshy for shovel testing to work. Determined, we excvated a few STPs but soon hit wet clays and sands with little soil development above them. The digging was difficult, the screening was difficult, and there just was not enough artifact content to draw any conclusions.

We stopped digging and spent a bit of time wondering why anyone would build in this marshy area. We considered the possibility that we were being too literal with the "behind the Chimney House" supposed location of the carriage shop. We came up with some alternate plans to test the area, none of which we could attempt with the equipment we had brought that day, and called it a day.

We will do some archival research to help us pin down the carriage shop location and utilize some remote sensing techniques to evaluate the potential for archaeological deposits to exist in the marshy northwest portion of Port Tobacco. We will find Atzerodt's shop, eventually.


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