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US Route 301 Archaeology Update

Written on: April 25th, 2013 in Archaeology Updates US301

The Dovetail crew expanding the previous grid and beginning excavations at the Warwick Site.

Dovetail Cultural Resource Group (Dovetail), a firm that specializes in archaeological and architectural research, began archaeological fieldwork at the Warwick Site on April 17, 2013.  The Warwick Site is a small camp, way-station, or short-term work area occupied by Native Americans between approximately 3,000 and 500 B.C., which spans the periods referred to by archaeologists as the Late Archaic (roughly 3,000-1,000 B.C.) and Early Woodland (roughly 1,000-500 B.C.).  Richard Grubb and Associates (RGA), also archaeological and architectural specialists, had identified the site and determined that it was important based on the potential contribution to understanding Native American life in the northern Delmarva Peninsula during the Late Archaic and Early Woodland periods.  Both RGA and Dovetail work for the Delaware Department of Transportation; the site will be affected by planned improvements to Route 301.

Dovetail began by clearing leaves off the site to identify the location of RGA excavations, and re-establishing the RGA excavation grid.  The grid divided the area into blocks of one square meter, or roughly three square feet, thereby controlling for the type and amount of artifacts recovered across the area.  Excavation began by expanding the southern portion of the area examined during the earlier work.  Soils were pushed through a screen to ensure that all artifacts larger than one-quarter inch are recovered.  The root mat and associated organic material and soil and an underlying layer identified as soil plowed 100 or more years ago were removed to expose the less churned-up soils below the plow zone, where the remains of hearths, sub-surface storage pits, and rings of posts that served as the frame for houses or, more likely in this case, temporary huts might occur.  Future work will expand the excavation to investigate possible features, as archaeologists refer to the remains of huts and hearths, and remove the unplowed soils that have not been excavated at present.

Looking south across the initial excavation blocks after removal of the historic plow zone.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Looking south across the initial excavation blocks after removal of the historic plow zone.