Archaeology Update for the Week of October 9Our first week of excavations, and already we have uncovered two features! The set-up week involved the excavation of the upper layers of disturbed soil in three blocks (B, C, and D), after which we set the perimeter of the excavation blocks inside the holes that were dug. Unfortunately, rain filled Block B, and we have to wait to start excavations until it dries out. Blocks C and D, however, looked good, so we began excavations in those two. Over the course of the week, we opened up three 1-x-1-m units in Block C, and six 1-x-1-m units in Block D.
Right away, we found Feature 44 in Block C, a beautiful single-use hearth feature, at the top of the intact soil deposits. This feature consisted of a tight circle of burned rocks that were heated-up with a fire and used for cooking, like a stove. We know the feature is intact because you can see the cracks in the rocks as they cooled down, but the rock fragments were still sitting next to each other. Bone, charcoal, and lithic debris were all found around and between the rocks. We took a bunch of pictures of this feature and have used photogrammetry (using special software to generate a 3d model of an object based upon numerous 2d photos of that object from different angles).
Another major type of burned rock feature, the midden, was found in Block D (Feature 45). This block had a LOT of disturbances in the upper 30-40 cm (about 11.8-15.7 inches), and we could even see the scoops taken out of the soil to make trenches for underground power conduit. However, just below this disturbance, the top rocks of the burned rock midden appeared. A midden is what you get when you clean out the hearth (like the one in Block C) and toss all those used-up rocks in a big trash pile. Do that over and over, and you end up with a big pile of rocks. The good news is that prehistoric peoples not only threw the rocks out, but also other trash such as bone, old tools, plant remains, etc. A fragment of a Pedernales point was found in the midden, which helps us date the feature to potentially the Middle Archaic period. The midden covered the floor of three-and-one-half of the first four excavation units in a row, so two more 1-x-1-m units were opened to the side to see if the midden was as wide as it is long. We stopped digging for the week just above the expected midden deposits.