Day 2: Shipyard excavation, by Meghan Mumford

Today was the second day of our field school and it took place at the Government Shipyard of Conway Borough. The morning was begun with a surface excavation over the top of the spoil pile to recover any artifacts. In our search of the mostly loose and dried topsoil we found large deposits of resin, glass and metal. Many of us found partially revealed wood and began to excavate it further into the more moist “gumbo clay” layers.

By excavating the exposed wood, we learned that the wood was heavily covered in resin that would have been used as pitch to protect it from water. Also, some nails and bolts were found that were hand crafted. Others found metal rings that would have been used around barrels.

Dr. Ward and Dr. Dillian began their in-depth excavation of the large dug-out ground to find where the shipyard level would have been according to stratigraphy. The students were then showed the method of recording that was used, which was a scaled sketch with detail description and labels.

Dr. Ward and Dr. Dillian with the soil profile

In the afternoon we began to focus our search on digging and filtering a 70-cm-wide trench. We used “shake screens” and tripod screens with quarter-inch settings. Our purpose was to excavate the spoil pile to try and determine where more artifacts from what time periods were being found. In doing so we found more modern materials such as glass from soda bottles and nails. Every so often we found hand-crafted nails, and older glass and pottery in the underlayer of the surface soil.

At the end of the day we began our initial rinse of the artifacts that were found on the top of the pile and categorized them for future analyzing. It was a great second day.

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