2013 Week 6
The week was a short week in the field. The field school was off for the holiday, eliminating one of the excavation days. Also, the week began with more rain and delays.
Every time it rains we have to spend a long time removing the water from the units. Fortunately, this coming week, we have scheduled the tractor to fill in all the completed units. This will make things faster after the next rain and will free up many of the blocks we use to hold the plastic in place. Despite the shortened excavation schedule, we found many significant artifacts and answered a couple of questions about the site this week.
We are working on a very complex unit along the west wall of the Calvert House foundation.
There is a very small area along this wall where the original foundation might be visible without disturbances. One of the things we would really like to know is whether the west wall had sandstone at its base, as in the north and south walls, or if the foundation was made only of brick, as in the east wall. As excavation began, about an inch below the grass, we found a line of brick in the right place to be the west wall. This is represented in the photo by the one brick in the profile just below the grass. However, this was part of the exhibit laid down after the moving of the Brome-Howard house in 1994. It was removed and excavation continued. About 6 inches below that brick, under the fill deposited in 1994, another line of brick was found in the same place. This is the brick shown in the photo along the wall and represents the exhibit before the moving of the house. By the end of the week, on Saturday, we had removed this brick and were excavating destruction rubble from the moving of the Brome-Howard house. About an inch below the bottom of this brick, we came across another line of brick which was different than the first two. These lower bricks were poorly preserved and heavily covered with mortar. Neither of the upper layers of brick had any mortar. As yet, too little of this brick has been exposed to know if it is the original wall, or yet another exhibit wall. We will determine this next week, but are very hopeful that it is the wall we seek.
Much of this week, I had the entire crew excavating and screening in the area south of the house foundation. This is the location where we were looking for evidence of the porch mentioned in 1678.
At the top of the photo is the reconstructed foundation of the exhibit. The area is cut by two pipe trenches crossing the photo at the same angle. The styrofoam mentioned in an earlier post, can be seen in the profile under the bricks on the left hand side. Just to the right of this is some sandstone of the original foundation. We did find a post hole adjacent to the foundation which is evident in the center of the photo. This feature cut through the builders trench for the foundation and must date after the foundation was created. However, we did not find another post hole in line with this to the south. While the post hole is suggestive of a porch, without further evidence, its location remains uncertain.
Excavation of the re-deposited midden was an incredible experience because of the quantity and types of artifacts collected.
This material came from the western portion of the site and was deposited here in the 19th century to cover the foundation and level the area. While most of the material in this fill dated to the 17th century, there was coal, 19th-century nails and a few pieces of whiteware, a ceramic which was first introduced in the 19th century. The photo shows the number of artifacts in the fill, including bottle glass, oyster shell, brick, ceramics and an entire Colonial period tobacco hoe. What follow are some of the more interesting of the artifacts recovered from this fill.
One of the more beautiful artifacts was a piece of stoneware made in Germany, known as Rhenish blue and gray.
The vividness of the blue on this vessel is exceptional and the decoration, the sprig molding at the bottom and the incised lines, mark this as a special item. It dates to the late 17th century and was probably highly valued by the innkeeper of the Calvert House.
Another ceramic type found here is described as North Italian slipware.
This is a very finely potted earthernware which has swirled white slip applied before glazing. The glaze is very clear and shiny. Is is commonly dated to the early to mid 17th century. I am used to finding this type but only in small pieces. This piece represents about a quarter of the rim of the vessel. Although there is a big hole in the glaze, we recovered a number of pieces of glaze which will likely fill in most of this.
Bottle glass is common in this deposit, both necks and bases.
The bottle neck shown in the photo dates to the late 17th-century based on the short neck and the “onion” shaped body. We could expect that the Calvert House innkeepers had a large number of bottles over time. No glass seal was found with this fragment but it may have had one when whole.
The deposit had a large number of pipe stems and pipe bowls as well.
Many of the pipestems were several inches long, much better preserved than we normally find. This indicates that, except for its re-deposition here, artifacts in the midden were little changed from the time they were thrown away. The illustrated pipe has an “IC” heel mark. Associating pipe marks with specific pipe makers can be difficult. However, a website dealing with London pipemakers illustrates an identical mark and suggests this was used by James Court. He was not well known but was active in 1668. The bowl type would date to the 1660-1680 period.
Finally, the deposit contained a large amount of 17th-century table glass.
The illustrated fragment shows twisted rods of clear glass with a blue prunt on the end. Similar fragments have been found on site previously and are described as parts of the decoration of elaborate, Venetian-made goblets. Something this elaborate and ethereal seems, to us, out of place in early Maryland. However, they remind us that the elite of early Maryland did not leave their expectations at home when they immigrated.