At the Houston Le-Compt site we have met the enemy, and the enemy’s name is……plow scar! Work continued for a third week, and we have moved from digging sample units to mechanically stripping the plow zone from the 0.8-acre site core. After the main house burned in the 1930s, the area became an agricultural field that was plowed, and plowed, and plowed again. This activity left thousands of deep plow scars across the entire site. Plow scars are long shallow troughs left behind when a plow digs deeply into the earth while churning up the soil, leaving a linear dark stain. Plowing over the past 80 years has left an indelible mark on the archaeological record. The deep cross-cutting by the plow ran directly through all of the features left behind by past activity. Sometimes a single feature was cut by a myriad of plow scars, thus almost obliterating its original shape.
Despite very muddled and complex soil conditions, the Dovetail team continued to tease out exciting details on this site. In addition to dozens of post holes, we have located the remains of what may be three buildings, including the root cellar of the main house. Although we have not yet begun excavation of this feature, an abundance of brick, stone and artifacts across this area are a sign of great things to come. Other features we have found include brick piers, what may be a rear yard sheet midden, and a dark stain where many horseshoes were found. Possibly a carriage house that was mentioned in archival records? We will spend the next week finishing our backhoe stripping and creating a site map, with feature excavation beginning in the weeks to come. Now if we can just get past those plow scars.