Monday, November 2, 2009

No skeletons, but burned oyster shells

We finished mapping the Swann House foundation today and will excavate one unit in the northeast corner tomorrow.

The north side of the chimney (pictured left) turned out to be a little odd. Not Anne...she's normal enough, but the foundation and the fill within. The west wall consists of two runs of brick, but the mortar in the outer run is distinctly different...yellow...from the mortar on the interior run...white. Repointing of the exterior joints? Perhaps...we'll see. We didn't see a similar pattern in the brick closet that flanks the south side of the hearth, but the upper courses have been toppled and we haven't removed them yet.

The fill within this brick closet consists of burned, crushed oyster shell. We know it is burned because oyster shell turns blue-gray and the texture becomes friable when burned. Contractors burned oyster shell to make lime for mortar and plaster. We can't tell yet whether this is a surviving construction feature or if the burned oyster was used to line the bottom of the closet. If you examine the photograph to the right you'll note some white speckling to the right of the trowel. That's the burned oyster. I'll try to remember to take a close-up shot tomorrow. It is quite distinct.

No skeletons in this closet...not yet anyway.


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