Feature 49

Type: Burial (Probable)


 Length: 2.5 ft

 Width: 1.5 ft

 Depth: 1.5 ft

Volume: 5.63 ft3

Area: 3.75 ft2

Excavation minimap

Related Contexts:

Sq. 210R50

Sq. 210R60

Feature 49


by H. Trawick Ward

This pit, located just north of Structure 13 at 212.5R49.2, was observed at the top of the subsoil as a roughly rectangular stain of mottled orange clay. Three poorly defined postholes were plotted across the surface of the feature, but an attempt to separate their fill from that of the pit was unsuccessful. Consequently, all the mottled orange clay soil, including that from the suspected postholes, was excavated as a unit and labeled Zone 1.

After removing approximately 0.2 ft of Zone 1, it became apparent that a heavier concentration of charcoal and dark organic soil was present in the northeast section of the pit. However, the area had no well-defined boundaries, and the transition from mottled clay to mottled clay with charcoal and organic soil was gradual. At a depth of 0.5 ft below the top of the pit, the area with organic soil expanded until it encompassed approximately two-thirds of the pit area. When an attempt was made to establish the pit walls, it became evident that a clay subsoil shelf extended around the pit along all but the southern wall. This shelf created an off-set chamber that slightly undercut the southern wall. Toward the bottom of the chamber, a thin layer, approximately 0.2 ft thick, of a more compact mottled clay was excavated as Zone 2. This zone continued to the bottom of the pit, which was reached at a depth of 1.5 ft below the base of the plowzone.

Very few artifacts or subsistence remains were recovered from the fill of the pit. A kaolin-clay pipe stem and a gunflint were recovered from Zone 1, while a brass thimble was found near the bottom of the feature in Zone 2.

Given the nature of the pit fill (i.e., its mottled clay composition with few artifacts) and the shaft-and-chamber configuration of the pit itself, this feature probably was used for human burial. As with Feature 31, the mottled clay was not conducive to the preservation of organic material such as bone. Also, the size of the pit suggests the interment of a young child, which would enhance the probability of skeletal remains not being preserved. The thimble in the otherwise sterile mottled clay of Zone 2 may represent a modest grave offering.