Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Indian Queen Tavern: Day Three, "Bits and Pieces of the Picture"

Today we began excavating test units in the trench we opened on Monday, and also had the Gradall dig a second trench parallel to the first. These trenches are five feet wide and about twenty five feet long, and are also stepped; that is, they were excavated in levels, so the first unit starts in the 20th century, the unit in the middle begins in the 19th century, and at the end we’re starting at a depth that corresponds with the early 19th or late 18th century. This allows us to sample three centuries of site occupation simultaneously.

In Unit 1, Rick and Tom found artifacts representative of the early 20th century (and maybe a few things from the late 19th century). These artifacts included a huge piece of broken window glass, several small glass beads, glass bottles, ceramics, two clay marbles, and architectural debris (brick fragments, mortar, and nails). At the end of the day, they discovered an articulated brick floor!

Janet and Frank excavated Unit 2, which has arguably been the most interesting and productive unit so far today. The artifacts dated, for the most part, to the mid-to-late 19th century. Everyone’s favorite artifact of the day was found here: a ceramic lid depicting a cow and bearing the legend “Genuine Beef Marrow Pomatum.” This was essentially the Spam of the late 19th century (the lid dates to around 1870). In addition to the Pomatum lid, Unit 2 yielded a ceramic marble, several large ceramic fragments, numerous pipestems and bowls, and an assortment of other items.

Lisa excavated Unit 3, which offered an assortment of early 19th century and late 18th century artifacts. There were a variety of ceramic types represented here: Tin-Glazed Earthenware, Nottingham, English Brown Stoneware, and a number of patterns on Pearlware, Creamware and Whiteware. Animal bone was also present, as well as lamp glass, wine bottle glass, a large quantity of nails and bricks, and quite a lot of oyster and clam shells.

Mike and Molly began the day excavating Unit 4 in Trench 1, but Unit 4 needed a bit more time to dry out after Tuesday’s rain, so they moved to Unit 5 in Trench 3. A number of large, possibly architectural stones have been found, which may indicate that Mike & Molly are working at the site of the stable or possibly another outbuilding from the mid-to-early 19th century. They have also found a number of ceramics, including a fragment of “Scratch Blue” and a small piece of Nottingham-type pottery.
Each test unit excavated today represented a different use of the site, from the earliest to the latest historic occupation. The only major concern is that we may have only scratched the surface of the Indian Queen Tavern period – where are all the pipestems and liquor bottles? With any luck, we’ll start turning them up in the next day or so!

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