Saturday, November 22, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
This week I was assigned to lab. I was able to see what had come in from Block L and survey which was interesting because when I am up at the flag staff I have no contact with the rest of the group until the end of the day. As expected, there were many small sherds of many different types of ceramics to process because the week before block L had reached the house floor. There were also a lot of square nails, broken glass, broken clay pipe pieces, and many different types of artifacts to clean too.
On the first day we had a group of kids visiting from the Chehalis Tribe. There were about 35 kids and 6 adults. They were really interested in how we clean and process each different kind of artifact and they really seemed to enjoy viewing the many different artifacts we had out on the table at the time.
I was also able to process my own finds from the flag staff and that was pretty nice to be able to see the artifacts come from the ground covered in soil to cleaning them up and getting them ready for processing. They look very different when all of the soil has been removed. I was even able to clean the wood that we recovered. We had to lightly brush the wood so that we wouldn’t destroy it. I think it’s pretty amazing to find wood in such great condition after being buried for over 125 years! It almost looked brand new!
After 2 days of lab, we were moved out to Block L because there wasn’t that much left to process in the lab. I began to work on unit L31 and was able to uncover over 40 sherds of ceramics and at least 20 pieces of glass. I also began to uncover a large triangular shaped piece of metal but I had to leave it in situ because it is still protruding out of the next level. I can’t wait to see what it may be!
In the unit next to me is where all of the action seemed to be. Heidi was working in that unit and uncovered a very large iron key!
She also uncovered a large molar tooth that turned out to be pig's tooth. There were also many other large animal bones and post holes uncovered in Block L. In other news, I heard that at the Flag Staff dig they have reached 120 cm down and still have not reached the bottom of the pit that was dug to hold it. I wonder if they will uncover the flag staff this week? This is very exciting!
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Jodi Marshall: This week I was back at the Parade Ground in search of the elusive flag staff erected about 1850 after the U.S. military took over the fort. It was said to be so tall that it could be seen up and down the Columbia and might have been as tall as 150 feet! It disappeared from pictures and writtenrecords in the mid 1870s. As far as we know, it was not documented as to what happened to it so it is a mystery. We are also not sure as to how it was erected so we only have the knowledge of how it would have been traditionally done. What we are looking for is the base or ballast of the flag staff. The park would eventually like to reconstruct it along with the original path that lead from the front of the Grant house ( now a restaurant on the City of Vancouver's Officers Row) directly to the flag post. This is very exciting!
On the first day back at the site, I was brought up to speed as to what had happened while I was gone. There were four small holes or voids that had opened up within three of the four units. This was exciting at first but they ended up being Krotovina (rodent holes.) Bits of wood had became more abundant along with fire-cracked rock.
On the second day Dr. Beth Horton decided to bring one of our 1x1 meter units down farther than the rest as she was suspecting that it was near the flag staff. I screened all day and began to recover lithic debitage, which are stone flakes or biproducts from making stone tools. This was very puzzling because the level that we were in was the age of the US military and not of a precontact American Indian site. So how did the debitage get in there? We are still not sure. There were also many new holes that opened up within the unit but looked like they were Krotovina again or perhaps just loose dirt from the flagstaff hole.
On day three Beth uncovered a very large piece of wood in the middle of one of the Units. The next day it was uncovered even more and turned out to be a larger piece of timber sitting at about a 45 degree angle. There was also a larger piece of timber discovered sitting on the western side of the same unit. There are still many pieces of lithic debitage being recovered in this unit too. The south east corner began to collapse or crumble down as if there were a large void underneath it. It turns out that it was just loose soil due to having been disturbed some time ago. Could this mean we have found the site of the flag staff? Stay tuned…
Editors note: a story in the Columbian just ran on the flag staff dig. Here is the link: http://www.columbian.com/news/2014/jul/23/students-dig-in-at-fort-flagpole-site/
Friday, July 18, 2014
his week. Earlier in the week we learned how to measure our own personal pace unit. My magic number is .701cm per each step I take. We also learned to walk in transects as a group and using a compass. It was much harder than I thought it would be due to the hills and uneven terrain we were practicing in. Who knew walking a straight line could be so hard! When we first did it, we were directly outside of the fort in the field and Heidi happened upon a hatchet left after a demonstration probably for the Fourth of July. Later on I found a woman’s bracelet up on the upper parade ground and turned it in.
We spent a few days digging 40cm wide by 80cm deep test probes in the area of the old Spruce Mill site to help locate the tent city that was within the mill area. In all we dug 12 holes. We mostly found a lot of asphalt and concrete left over from the old hangers but we also found some broken glass, a few machine cut nails, fire-cracked rock, small pieces of brick, a small metal hook, and even an old cigarette butt. It was very hot during the week and there was little shade to enjoy throughout the day. It is in a large field however and there was an abundance of birds to watch. I even found a wasp’s nest within the tall grass. We had just a few visitors this week, surprisingly mostly people that had a lot of knowledge about the site or archeology itself.
Today we finished up the week learning how to read and create maps by utilizing a compass and GPS. Our team leader Justin created two different “sites” and we had to map them out using both methods. One was an old cabin with a “fallen plank,” a tin can, a piece of broken glass, and a shot gun shell so we hypothesized that the depositshappened by someone sitting on a porch, eating out of a can of beans, and shooting their gun. The second “site” was of a precontact site due to the absence of any European or post contact material. There was a projectile point, a ring of cobbles as if there were arranged for a fire, flint knapping debris, and animal bone. I really enjoyed this exercise. Next week I will be working again at the flag staff. I heard that they might be getting close to uncovering the post. How exciting!
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
|Students excavate at the Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground. The hole you see in this photo is a void that may be related to the site of the post's Flag Staff. Hopefully our excavations this summer will let us know for sure!|