Feature 53


by H. Trawick Ward

This pit, located southeast of Structure 12 at 216.0R19.0, appeared at the base of the plowzone as a dark stain of brown loam mottled with orange clay (Zone 1). On the surface, the central part of the fill was softer and had less clay mottling than the pit perimeter. Pockets of mottled orange clay were noted in the upper 0.2 ft of Zone 1, which also contained noticeable quantities of charcoal and animal bones.

At a depth of about 0.5 ft, a collar of slightly mottled orange clay was encountered (Zone 3). This fill was left intact as excavation continued on Zone 1, which terminated at a depth of approximately 1.0 ft. Beneath Zone 1 was a rich layer of more homogenous brown loam with charcoal and animal bone (Zone 2). Large potsherds (first, second) and animal bone were particularly abundant at the top of Zone 2. Toward the bottom of Zone 2, the soil became ashy and rapidly changed into a mottled orange clay (Zone 4) which contained few artifacts and extended to the pit bottom. The excavation of Zone 3 revealed that it was a thin band resting on a subsoil clay shelf.

In addition to the charcoal, animal bone, and pottery, several historic artifacts, including an iron axe, a pair of scissors, lead shot, gunflints, and glass beads, were recovered primarily from Zones 1 and 2.

After excavation, the oval-shaped pit measured 2.7 by 2.9 ft in plan view and was 2.1 ft deep. The walls were vertical from the subsoil surface to the top of the clay shelf. From the shelf to the bottom of the pit, they sloped inward, creating a bowl-shaped profile.

There is little doubt that the feature was originally intended as a storage facility and later refilled with refuse over a short period of time. The shelf could have served to support a cover during its use-life as a storage pit. The refuse indicates multiple dumping episodes from domestic activities associated with food preparation and consumption. The small quantity of mottled clay in the upper fill zone may reflect deposits resulting from cleaning activities around a hearth area, whereas the more homogenous clay fill in the bottom of the feature may have been deposited as a consequence of soil slumping from the pit walls during its use as a storage facility.