Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nail review

Pete and I spent a few hours re-visiting the nails from several contexts at Port Tobacco. I was struck by the fact that, while analyzing the data from the cemetery area, that we recovered 122 nails from three units, but not one nail could be identified as to type (viz., handwrought, machine-cut, or wire).

All of the nails proved, in fact, to be unidentifiable...they were too badly preserved to permit us to distinguish types. My guess is that they are all handwrought nails and relate to a nearby building.

We also took a second look at the nails from the Jail Locus. Most of those nails were machine-cut (post 1840s), and a few were wire nails (post-1885). That accords well with our suspicion that what we found were the foundations of the 1859 jail and not either of its predecessors, the 1728 and 1811 structures. The later wire nails likely were left by Clayton Rice, a local character who added on to the jail house in the 20th century, living there after abandoning his 'shack' in front of the courthouse ruin.

Anyway, this sort of analysis is one of the reasons for asking our volunteers to collect all of those nasty bits of iron from the screens...they have research value.


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