SMASH 2017 Week Two Update: From the field to the lab

Week two of the SMASH project is well underway, and despite some rainy weather we have been able to make great progress in our work at the Singer-Moye site. We finished excavating Strata II, Level 3 for the two units we opened last week, and are putting them on hold for the time being to begin two new units. Our goal is to expose as much horizontal ground space as possible in order to determine the bounds of a potential structure.

Our excavations have produced large amounts of artifacts, including pottery sherds, chert, lithics, daub, and faunal material. As we dug deeper into the units there was greater artifact density, and we believe that we encountered a midden layer. The possible structure being excavated is thought to have been abandoned and used as a trash heap, which helps explain why we are finding so many artifacts in this area.

The ceramics that we found have varied in shape, size, and color, and numerous pieces are incised or include other forms of decoration.

Dirt from the units is screened at the site, and artifacts are picked out and bagged according to unit, strat, and level. Once a level is closed, we can begin washing the artifacts back at the house. With the exception of daub and faunal material, artifacts are scrubbed with water and a toothbrush and left to dry on screens outside, under the sun.

Daub is clay that is smeared onto the walls of a structure and is used to keep out drafts and smooth the surface. It usually only appears in the archaeological record if it has been baked or fire-hardened. In our excavations so far, we have found pieces of daub in all units and in chunks of various sizes. These findings suggest that some type of structure existed in this area.

We found several pieces of bone (faunal material) that have been tentatively identified as mammal and bird bones. Most are too small for the species to be determined, but in one unit some long bones have been uncovered that require further digging. Some bone fragments show signs of being burnt, and can appear blue-black or orange-white.

The units that were opened this week are still in progress, but as we dig deeper we hope to find more signs of the structure. One unit is believed to have been the entrance of the structure, and we expect to find an abundance of artifacts in the lower levels….

… but will we? Stay tuned to find out!

-Tiffany and Julie

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About Dr. Jennifer Birch

I am an archaeologist who specializes in the Archaeology of Eastern North America. Conceptually, my interests are underpinned by the desire to understand how the lived experiences of individuals and communities articulates with long-term, large-scale processes of social and cultural change. My current research is concerned with the development of organizational complexity and diversity in eastern North America. Ongoing projects in Northeastern North America include: - Geophysical investigations of Late Precontact Iroquoian Villages - Regional synthesis of data on Iroquoian settlement patterns, including intra-site patterns, interregional interaction, and geopolitical realignment Ongoing projects in Southeastern North America include: - Multi-scalar investigations of the Late Woodland to Mississippian transition in the Deep South - Household and community archaeology at the Singer-Moye site
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