Removing the Plowed Soil

Occaneechi Town was excavated one square at a time. The first step in excavating a square is to remove the top layer of soil that has been disturbed by modern farming, called the plow zone. It is usually a dark soil about one foot deep that has been repeatedly turned and mixed by the plow. This soil is dug out with shovels and tossed through a half-inch screen, which catches the artifacts. The plow zone contains artifacts that were laying on the ground at the time Occaneechi Town was abandoned. (Note that the level of the ground has not changed significantly over the past three centuries; in other words, the people of Occaneechi Town walked on the same surface we walk on today.)

Click here to see a video of students digging and screening plowed soil. (If the video fails to play, try these alternative formats: Quicktime, MPEG-1, MPEG-4, RealPlayer.)