maanantai 21. toukokuuta 2007

Day 11: The Clay Feature and Black Ceramics

So today, at the very end of the day, we finally reached the 1000-find mark. It may seem like a lot, and the pile of bags in the lab is certainly impressive, but most of them are very, very small, and not until the end of last week were we getting pieces of pottery large enough to see evidence of patterning, paint, or asbestos tampering. However, while the finds haven't been big, the amount of work needed to catalogue and weigh them has.

Aside from a number of large intact ceramics fragments and a nice quartz tool at the Thing, there were two very interesting discoveries made today. The first was a large spread-out layer of heavily decayed pottery and clay that covers about half of the east-end extension of the main trench. Most of this clay looks like solid pottery, and within it we have found some big pieces; however, the majority of it is composed of tiny fragments of ceramics, and most of it falls apart when we try to excavate it. A similar clay feature was found last year within a dwelling depression, and so it might be either associated with ceramics production or the disposal of broken, used ceramics. In any event, it certainly gives us more to think about concerning the organization of the settlement, how resources were shared or distributed, and what techniques they used to make their pottery.

The Clay Feature: Judging by the different consistency within the feature, as well as the volume of decayed pottery that we've found within it, we're guessing this feature was formed by a significant quantity of ceramics. What they were doing there, however, is still unclear.

The other big find of the day is even more perplexing. In the middle of the wall that at one point separated the main trench from the east-end extension, we found a piece of ceramics unlike any we've uncovered in the area before. For one thing, it is entirely black, even on the sides of the fragment that would not have been on the surface when it was intact. We can't yet discern if the black is paint or fire damage or what, but the fact that the black coloring is on every surface is very confusing; it suggests that it was applied (intentionally or not) after the piece was broken (if it was broken). Secondly, it has surface patterning that is nothing like the comb-ware we would expect to find in this area. Instead of the rows of indents, there seem to be parallel incisions along the fragment. Once again, it's too early to say exactly what it is, but the fragment is definitely exciting: we could be looking at anything from a piece of poorly formed, discarded ceramics to a yet-unrecorded type of pottery. While the latter may seem more interesting, either result will give us some important archaeological insights into the lifestyle of the people we're trying to understand.

Above: The mysterious and inscrutable black ceramics piece. Note the bizarre lines on the surface, and the coloring. Hopefully we'll be able to figure out a little more about this thing before we leave.

And finally, here are some pictures from the rest of the day:

Above: "Even more damn charcoal" at the Thing. The trench is already 1.30 metres deep, and there's still a lot down there.
Above: Some ceramics with good solid pieces of asbestos throughout (the white bars). Fortunately for us, asbestos pottery lasts longer than other kinds (mainly because the other tempers used were organic, and therefore decay rapidly), and we're finding a fair amount of it.

That's all for now,
The Field School

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