After four weeks of the field school, the unit in which I am working, Unit A, measures roughly 60 centimeters, or about two feet, in depth. Needless to say, it is becoming rather difficult to climb in and out of the unit. Even though Josh and I removed a significant amount of soil from the unit this week, we did not find too many artifacts. Nonetheless, there has been a couple of interesting developments.
First, the hole we dug in our attempt to investigate the area formally known as Feature 1 is finally level with our unit floor. Not having a giant hole in the middle of the unit makes it ten times easier for both of us to stand in the unit while shovel skimming. But now that we are a little deeper beneath the Earth’s surface, we are noticing some interesting changes to the Feature 1 area –specifically, the outline of this cultural deposit is changing shape. It is no longer the rectangle we were initially dealing with, rather, it is now becoming more of a semi-circle. The deposit is also migrating westward — meaning that the original location of the former feature no longer contains traces of the burned coal and other cultural matter. The northeastern corner of Unit D is now exhibiting a collection of this mysterious black matter, suggesting that the deposit continues to extend beyond our western wall. However, Unit D is not as deep as our unit, so we cannot conclusively say that the deposit in Unit A runs into Unit D since we cannot compare the patterns at an equal level at this time.
The most interesting development of the week occurred immediately after Josh and I eliminated the awkward hole in our unit floor. While shovel skimming the very next level, Level 6, we kept hitting one rock after another in the eastern half of the unit. It got to the point where we could no longer use a shovel to remove the standard 10 centimeters of soil from the floor, but had to use the trowel instead. After a few hours of scraping around rock after rock, we had finally leveled out the unit floor as best as we could. In total, we counted 21 sizeable rocks on the surface and another 15 or so just beginning to peak out of the ground. Because of the large number of rocks present, we were told to remove another 10 centimeters from this level, making Level 6 a 20-centimeter-deep level. The field school did not meet on Friday, June 23, so by the end of the day Thursday, we were only about 1/4 of the way done removing the extra 10 cm of soil. However, I was able to remove about 10 rocks from the unit. We still have a long way to go, though, since we are using our trowels instead of shovels to remove the soil.
While excavating around the rocks, Josh and I began to speculate about what the rocks could represent. In his previous blog post, Josh stated he believes the rocks were used to control water flow around the building. Our professor suggested the rocks could have been knocked loose from the foundation when the building was moved in the early 1920s. However, since most of the rocks I was able to remove were either round or irregular-shaped pieces of granite, and the fact we are excavating in an area that is believed to be outside the building, I think it is possible the rocks may have been used for some decorative purpose, such as lining a flower bed or walkway. However, if the rocks were once arranged in a systematic manner, I am not sure how the rocks came to be placed in this jumbled mess. Perhaps they were haphazardly discarded here after the 1903 fire or once the building was relocated.
In any case, we may never know what our collection of rocks was used for. But then again, further excavation during our final week may be able to provide us with a clue as to the purpose of these rocks.