Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Late Prehistoric Component

One of our goals during the June field session was to test the prehistoric locus identified the previous October. Pete oversaw the excavation of several units in this locus. The units yielded a number of prehistoric pottery sherds, most of which are Late Woodland Potomac Creek wares, generally radiocarbon dated to AD 1300-1700.

Stratum 3 in Unit 7 produced 25 aboriginal sherds (see below).

Profile drawing of east wall of Unit 7.

Stratum 3 was buried by a thick layer of gravelly sandy silt, the material that our other analyses suggest was washed into the area from the heights to the east of town and then plowed in the 1930s and later, after abandonment of much of the town. The textures of Strata 2 and 3 are distinctly different, those of the upper redeposited material being much coarser and more gravelly than what appears to be the native soil, Stratum 3.

The sherds (see below), along with a Potomac Creek projectile point and quartzite flakes, clearly indicate that we have a Late Woodland, possibly even a Contact period, locus in this part of the Compton field. Unfortunately, it is not an undisturbed component. Also from Stratum 3 we recovered historic artifacts. According to the field notes, they are all 18th-century (white salt-glazed stoneware), but the material hasn't been catalogued yet. We also found a historic posthole and mold cutting through Stratum 3 and into Stratum 4, the otherwise undisturbed subsoil.

Sample of aboriginal pottery recovered from Unit 7, Stratum 3. The top center rim sherd is approximately 1½ inches (3.75 cm) in length.

Further exploration of this locus likely will define the 18th-century earthfast that Pete and Company found, and it should expose additional Late Woodland deposits, hopefully such features as hearths and the postmolds of an aboriginal house.


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