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US Route 301 Archaeology Update

Written on: July 23rd, 2012 in Archaeology Updates US301

This week at the Rumsey-Polk site, archaeologists worked through the heat and rain to document more “features” – cellar holes, pits, posts, and wells made and used by the 18th and 19th-century tenant farmers.  We found one type of feature that is rarely preserved, remains of wooden sills that once supported “earthfast” houses and sheds.  Earthfast structures had wooden foundations that decayed faster than buildings with stone or brick foundations. 
Wooden Sill Feature
Wooden Sill Feature

In the next few weeks we will record and map more than 525 features identified at the site — and then excavate several of the best ones  to  learn more about  the lives of the people who lived at the site during the 18th and 19th century.  One of the more interesting artifacts found last week was two fragments of  a  tortoise shell patterned teapot  dating to the mid-18th century. Native American artifacts found this week included two spear or dart points, a 9,000 year old jasper Amos type  and a 8,000 year old bifurcate, which remind us that Native Americans hunted and collected food at the site for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. Despite the heat, students and teachers from the Federal Highway Administration Summer Transportation Institute toured the site and  joined us in a search for more artifacts.  Volunteers from the Archaeological Society of Delaware also visited and toured the site.

Mid 18th century tortoise shell teapot fragment

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mid 18th century tortoise shell teapot fragment