Friday, October 14, 2011

Fort Hunter 2011 Excavations Come to a Close

Rain filled our plastic tarps which cover the excavation area too many times to count this year.

We are starting to sound like a broken record with this rain, but once again we had a wet week of excavations at Fort Hunter. Today was our last day at the site, but mother nature took control and we were rained out this afternoon. What do you expect when Harrisburg broke the record for the wettest year on record? The good news is that we were able to speak with a lot of visitors, further investigate the well and re-visit the cobble feature on the east side of the mansion.
One of the many visitors at Fort Hunter this week.

Last week we had removed the rocks at grade with the ice house and were looking to remove another layer from the well structure to aid in determining if the ice house and well were built at the same time or if one predates the other. We removed another course and further exposed the corner of the ice house.
Steve Warfel and Kurt Carr examine the foundation of the ice house.

Several visitors viewed the well construction this week including an architectural historian from the PHMC, Joe Lauver. The general consensus was that the well was constructed prior to the ice house. The small rocks that appear to be slumping are interpreted as fill put in after the pebble layer eroded out of the builders trench. The puzzling question is why the ice house was built so close to the well? Additional research of historic documents this winter may provide some of the answers to this question.

View of the well and rocks which intrude into the builders trench of well.

The well shaft was augured to a depth of fourteen feet before we encountered either rock or compacted shell. Unfortunately this test produced mostly ash and shell. Further investigations next year will hopefully provide tangible evidence which will aid in dating the well to one of the site occupants.

Augering the well shaft to 14 feet.

Mapping of the fire-cracked rock in the northwest corner of our unit was completed this week- yipee! This feature produced over 250 pieces of fcr representing a prehistoric hearth about three thousand years old. We have had a tremendous amount of fcr over the past few years from this area and are sure to encounter more as the excavations continue.
Andrea and Melanie mapping the fire cracked rock feature.

The ditch or trench discovered last year was reopened this week and the cobble floor exposed. The expanded trench adjacent to this feature produced a similar cobble layer which would create an area wider than expected for a road. We are anticipating a geomorphologist, Dr. Frank Vento, to visit the site on Monday and assist in the interpretation of this feature.

The dugout canoe made another journey this weekend to Gifford Pinchot State Park. Our faithful followers may recall our blog last year which included video of the dugout on the lake. If you missed it just do a search of our archived posts and you can view it from this website. The heritage canoeists love the dugout and welcomed Kurt Carr and his presentation on the construction of dugout canoes by Native Americans.

Remember that this is Archaeology Month in Pennsylvania and there are multiple programs around the state for those of you interested in learning more about the importance of archaeology in our lives.
 We will be at the State Capitol on Wednesday, October 26th for Archaeology Day and don’t forget to register for the Archaeology Workshops on Saturday, November 5th. Workshops brochure link

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

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