During the wonderful weather this week, field school continued to excavate in the Pope’s Fort area.
Over most of the area, we are removing plow zone but the units near the oil tank have revealed many modern features. Although these are not what we are looking for, they need to be treated the same as any other feature. With the end of field school looming, we only have seven more days to excavate, it is frustrating to spend time on modern intrusions.
The plow zone in this area continues to be very rich in artifacts and we are finding many things dating to the first half of the 17th century. We continue to find lead-backed tin glaze earthenware, which I mentioned last week. This week, we recovered a sherd of North Italian slipware.
The pictured sherd is a red earthenware with a well prepared paste and a fine lead glaze. Prior to glazing, lines of white slip were trailed over the red surface, creating a swirled pattern. Ceramics of this type are generally found in contexts dating to 1650 or before. North Italian slipware is another reminder that the Maryland was part of a much larger economic sphere.
We had hoped to answer the question about the palisade of Pope’s Fort this week but the excavation of the modern features has taken much longer than expected.
By the end of Saturday, all of the modern features had been removed from the area. leaving only plow zone to be removed. While it has taken longer than expected, the preservation of the plow zone bodes well for answering the question next week.
Among the many artifacts found this week, several stand out, including an iron button.
The small, brass attachment may indicate that this is a cufflink. This type of button could date to the 17th century but there is no way to be sure. Most items found in the plow zone can not be dated because of the disturbed nature of the context. Cufflinks began to be made in the 17th century but became common only in the 18th century. This is an artifact we wish we knew more about.
A similar fascinating but uncertain artifact found this week is a ring made of tightly wound brass wire.
Like the previous artifact, this ring was found in the plow zone and its origins are obscure. Brass wire work was common in the 17th century but this could just as easily date to a later period.
We are on much more certain ground when we look at clay tobacco pipes and this week we found many interesting pipe fragments. Two of these bore marks indicating who made the pipes and allow them to be dated.
The pipestem on the left shows an incised name, “WIL EVANS,” indicating a father and son of the same name who produced pipes in Bristol from c. 1667-1697. The mark on the pipe heel, consisting of “IP” under a crown indicates a pipe maker from Gouda. Holland whose name was Jan Pietersz. He first recorded this mark in 1686 and it was used into the beginning of the 18th century.
In addition to the identifiable pipe fragments, we recovered a number of decorated pieces.
The first two stems show typical 17th century decoration while the third fragment is part of a “Pikeman and Minerva” pipe bowl. This highly decorated type of pipe dates to the late 17th century.
Next week will be a very busy one for field school. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we will be in Virginia observing how other groups do archaeology and how it is interpreted to the public. When we get back, we need to prepare for Tidewater Archaeology Days on Friday and Saturday. This is our major public event where we invite people to come and help screen for artifacts on site or to take special tours of the archaeology lab and sites. Somewhere, in the middle of all that, we will get some archaeology done.