Friday, October 8, 2010

Archaeology Month at Fort Hunter

We have been very busy this week having managed to get in four days at Fort Hunter with only one rain out. Public outreach has been terrific this year and we really appreciate all of the visitors we have had, many with information about their recollections of the layout of Fort Hunter Park over the years and changes they have seen in the landscape. Sunday, October 3rd was Indian Days and we had about 800 visitors that stopped by to view our excavations, many of them young scouts learning about Native American lifeways. Several school groups visited the site this week and we had two tours of the Archaeology/Anthropology gallery at The State Museum. Archaeology Month is in full swing in Pennsylvania so be sure to check for events in your area!

School group viewing the excavations on a soggy Wednesday.

Excavation of the well has been progressing very well, our current level is four feet below the top of the flagstone cap. We have been digging this in six inch increments and mapping at each level.

Map of the top of the well feature prior to removal of cap stones

The process we are using to excavate the well is to bi-sect the well and remove the west side of this feature. We are using this method for a couple of reasons. The first so that we can look at the construction method used to form the well and the second is the expense of scaffolding and rigging to excavate a well shaft.

The following sequential series of images covers our excavations at the various levels we have identified, digging in 6 inch increments.

Cap stones removed

Level 1- first 6 inches removed

Removing one of the large flagstone rocks surrounding well-~ 130lbs

Preparing for our photo shoot of our beautiful feature at Level 4

Level 5, Friday afternoon at 3.5 feet below cap stones.

Adjacent to the well area is our prehistoric land surface that dates to about 3- 4,000 years ago. We are continuing to map and remove the immense volume of fire cracked rock encountered at this level throughout our excavation unit. Each rock is mapped prior to removal and elevations recorded so that we can determine if the fire-cracked rock we are encountering is consistently appearing at the same level, indicating an intact land surface. The question remains as to what were the Native peoples that built these fires cooking or processing here? There have been a few points and scrapers recovered and the task this winter will be putting the puzzle pieces together to interpret this event.

Large fire cracked feature prior to removal of FCR from unit.

Small side notched point recovered this week in FCR level

We found the large flake below this week in the fire-cracked rock level, any ideas?

We have decided to continue excavations till October 15th due to the rain delays, so if you haven’t visited us at Fort Hunter Park, please do! Thanks to our followers, here’s hoping for good weather next week and some interesting fort related artifacts.

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

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