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US Route 301 Archaeology Update

Written on: February 5th, 2013 in Archaeology Updates US301

Kerry González and Adriana Lesiuk Conducting the Weekly Cleaning of Wood from the Houston-LeCompt Wells.

During Dovetail’s 2012 summer excavation of the Houston-LeCompt site, 3 wells were uncovered and explored. The wells span the occupation of the site with the first dating to pre-1800, the second to 1800–1865, and the third to 1900–1930s. Initial excavation involved a systematic approach with shovels and trowels. Once sufficient data was collected, a backhoe was brought in at the end of the project to bi-sect the wells in their entirety. Each well contained interior structures buried below the water table consisting of posts and planks hewn from yellow hard pine and white oak. Dovetail retained 14 samples from the wells for temporary conservation.  Wood samples were photographed in the field and after the initial cleaning process.  Measurements including length, width, and thickness were recorded as well as any defining characteristics (i.e. hewn post, nails present, or fastener holes).  The wood is cleaned by hand weekly and resubmerged in clean water.  Given the size of a few of the posts and their shape, Dovetail purchased a fiberglass bathtub to accommodate the larger wood samples. While plans for final curation have yet to be determined, it is likely that some of the more representative pieces with be retained and sent to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory for final conservation.