Chris posted yesterday about our ongoing excavation of Feature 380. As she reported, we’ve recently discovered a dense concentration of faunal material in the feature’s fill. This post takes a step back and provides the excavation history of F 380/F 380ext.

Feature 380 (F 380) was first identified in 2011 as a small, dark-colored stain in the soil along the northern wall of Sq 616.

F 380 Level 02. Soil color and texture differences are common indicators of prehistoric soil disturbances, and archeologists generally refer to them as features. Features are non-portable artifacts such as pits, hearths, and post molds. Pit features are relatively common; and they, and their contents, can tell us a great deal about prehistoric life.

F 380 Level 02. Soil color and texture differences are common indicators of prehistoric soil disturbances, and archeologists generally refer to them as features. Features are non-portable artifacts such as pits, hearths, and post molds. Pit features are relatively common; and they, and their contents, can tell us a great deal about prehistoric life.

Excavation of the feature revealed a relatively large rockered Pike sherd, deer bone fragments, and burnt limestone. A portion of F 381 is visible to the left.

Excavation of the feature revealed a relatively large rockered Pike sherd, deer bone fragments, and burnt limestone. A portion of F 381 is visible to the left.

After excavating what little of the pit was present in Sq 616, we decided we would like a better understanding of the feature and its contents. So, we opened a 50×115 cm extension from the north wall of Sq 616 since most of the prehistoric pit was outside the bounds of the excavation unit. 
F 380 included more material than we expected.

F 380ext-01 at 65-68cm below datum. Fill within the vessel included deer, fish and muskrat remnants, and also a portion of the pot's rim.

F 380ext-01 at 65-68cm below datum. Fill within the vessel included deer, fish and muskrat remnants, and also a portion of the pot’s rim.

F 380ext-01, profile view.

F 380ext-01, profile view.

The large Pike sherd in the wall of the unit was more than a lone vessel fragment; it was part of a large concentration of sherds from a single vessel. Most of the vessel was within the feature, and a significant amount of the pot was still standing (see above). A portion of the vessel’s rim is visible inside the pot in the image above, as well. Other debris inside the vessel included deer, various species of fish, and muskrat bones, and charcoal. Additional sherds from a Havana vessel were associated with this vessel. Faunal remains were most dense along the western margin of the vessel.

Closeup of the Pike vessel in F 380.

Closeup of the Pike vessel in F 380.

Our excavation strategy was to remove the first 25 cm of the feature to create a vertical profile across the approximate middle of the prehistoric pit. Each distinct depositional unit—cultural or natural—was described and removed separately. All artifacts and debris 1 cm or larger were piece-plotted. Feature fills were collected as flotation samples to be processed in Kampsville, allowing us to preserve small artifacts, faunal remains, and botanical materials within the fill for future analysis in the laboratory.

Following creation and mapping of the feature’s profile, we began excavation of the “pedestal side” of the feature, which is our current task in Sq 616. Most of the Pike Rockered vessel was removed in the first 25 cm of the feature extension, though some Pike and Havana sherds were still present within the fill. Limestone (burnt and unburnt) and faunal material remain common. In addition to deer, muskrat and fish, we have found elements of various bird species, mussel shells, and raccoon bone. Deer bone is most common. Redeposited charcoal and burnt earth are also present throughout the fill.

F 380ext Bisect Profile.

F 380ext Bisect Profile.

So, F 380 is the archeological remnant of a pit excavated by prehistoric peoples and filled with refuse sometime during the Middle Woodland period (ca. 50 cal BC – cal AD 400) based on the ceramics present. Both Pike and Havana sherds are common Middle Woodland ceramics. Debris within the feature appears to be remnants of food, food storage vessels, charcoal, and burnt limestone. Few pieces of chert or tools were found.

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2 Responses to A Brief History of Feature 380

  1. [...] year, we identified and excavated a possible post mold (PM 1056) in one of our test units, Sq 616. A post mold is a unique archaeological feature (i.e. non-portable artifact) that is first [...]