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US Route 301 Archaeology Update

Written on: August 31st, 2012 in Archaeology Updates US301

Feature with pig bones

This week at the Cardon-Holton site started off with a downpour but ended with sunshine.  The backhoe was able to finish stripping the plowzone under less than prime conditions with the precision of a surgeon revealing several early historic refuse, storage cellars and of course postholes.  Stripping also revealed additional prehistoric pit features as well as some features of unknown affiliations.  These feature are in the process of being mapped onto the site base map and will be overlain  with data from the earlier phases of work.  With stripping behind us features are being selected for excavations.  At the base of one historic pit was an articulated juvenile pig skeleton with one ankle and foot removed (cut off) was perfectly preserved.  Perhaps they thought the meat went bad and disposed of the carcass in the pit.  The answer lies in the other half which we hope to remove next week.  An adjacent pit contained the poorly preserved remains of half of a cow’s skull with one horn butchered or cut right down the center.  We believe it was butchered in this manner to gain access to the brains which could then either be cooked and consumed or used for tanning leather.  A large cylindrical feature identified last week is becoming more interesting with each day of excavation.  Originally thought to be a well, this feature measures 12 feet across and was lined with wood for the first two feet below the plowzone leading us to then think it may be a cistern or icehouse.  The central fill material has the appearance of a cone typically associated with wells and at four feet down a square “shaft-like” stain became apparent in the center of the excavation leading back to thinking it is a well…so why does the cone have a lining?  Was this a temporary construction technique?  For this week we have shored up the walls of the shaft and hopefully we will learn more next week as we continue down.  Stay tuned for further developments!