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Blackmar-Eaton Project Phase III Data Recovery: Feature 4/42

Click here to see photos of feature 4/42 from phase III of the Blackmar-Eaton project.

Feature 4/42.

Feature 4/42 is interpreted as the foundation pit of an unidentified Period I (1838-1857) structure that was re-used as a garbage midden pit during Period II (1857-1880),  and that was capped and partially disturbed during Period III (1880 – pre 1929).  Here, a total of 6,981 artifacts were recovered from at least ten distinct feature strata.

Period I (c. 1838 – 1857).

Architectural debris dominated the first period assemblage by both count and weight, including brick and cut iron alloy nails, as well as window glass and wood board fragments.  Food remains include wine bottle and drinking glass fragments, as well as a variety of table/teaware and food preparation/storage wares, such as bowls, milk pan, plate, saucer, and teacups.  Whiteware and redware dominated the assemblage, while several impostor stoneware, pearlware, creamware and yellowware fragments were also located.  Representative decorative styles include: painted, shell-edged, and to lesser extent transfer printed, sponged, slipped/dipt and undecorated examples.

Food related eco-facts included a large amount of cattle, unidentified medium mammal bone, though other species were also found, including unidentified large mammal, pig, sheep, turkey, and chicken bone.  Hygiene/Medicinal artifacts include a lead-glazed redware chamber pot and wash basin.  Tools/Arms related artifacts included barbed wire fragments; five articulated chain links; and a nearly intact triangular iron. Only one clothing artifact, a gilded copper alloy button, as found, as well as several tobacco pie fragments.

Period II (c. 1857-1880).

In terms of architectural debris, brick dominates the Period II assemblage in both count and weight, followed by cut nail, flat window glass in higher density concentration, as well as smaller amounts of cement, structural stone, slate roofing, wood board fragments, and lyme mortar.  However, in this case, it is possible that mortar has been misidentified as a building material, and rather is related to some form of home soap making.  Other evidence for soap making includes a dense concentration of animal bone, used for the rendering of fat, and charcoal, evidence for a fire used to render animal fat.

Other faunal materials include bone and tooth fragments representative of several animal species/categories (med mammal, pig, cattle and sheep). Similar to food related faunal ecofacts, the majority of energy debris was found in context with the rendering waste, most of which was identified as charcoal.

Food related artifacts include a variety of glass, metal and ceramic artifacts, though ceramics were found in greatest quantity.  Similar to the earlier Period I context, the only glass artifacts identified in Feature 4/42’s Period II deposits are wine bottle glass and drinking glass fragments.  Metal artifacts include a utensil handle and portions of a metal colander. The ceramic artifact assemblage is dominated by table and teaware, while lesser amounts of food preparation/storage and food service wares were also found. 

Similar to the previous assemblage, whiteware was found in greatest quantity, and in the greatest variety of decorative styles, including annular, transfer-printed, flow transfer printed, painted, molded, molded, shell-edge, slipware, sponged and undecorated examples.  Lesser amounts of dipt and undecorated yellowware, and slipped and transfer printed pearlware were also identified.  Represented vessel forms include plates, bowls, saucers and teacups, though several milk-pan fragments, along with parts of several lids and a platter were also found.

Toiletry ceramics were also well represented, including several pontiled/blown medicine bottles, along with the fragments of several different chamber pots and a wash basin.   Although this might suggest that F 4/42 was being used as a privy, its large size suggests that it may just be related with the disposal of household debris in general.

Smaller finds include, but are not limited to several clothing buttons, part of a lathed bone needle case, a bone handled embroidery tool,  slate and  wood pencil fragments, parts of a lamp globe, an iron bucket and several tobacco pipe fragments.  Finally, unidentified metal artifacts were found, including a variety of iron straps, dowels, and hardware objects with multiple possible use contexts (e.g. screw fragments; bolts, staples), as well as more fragmentary and burnt ceramic, glass and bone materials.

Period III (c. 1880 – pre 1929).

The best represented artifact category by weight and quantity in Period III strata were identified as architectural debris.  The architectural assemblage was dominated by brick in both weight and quantity, along with lesser amounts of cut iron nails, followed by window glass, wire nails, and mortar.  Substantial amounts of food related artifacts were also identified, most of which were identified as table and teaware.  Though examples of food preparation / storage and food service vessels were also observed, they were found in a much lower quantity.

Most ceramics were identified as whiteware, though lesser quantities of pearlware, redware and yellowware were also found. Unlike the previous contexts, most Period II ceramics were undecorated, though lead and salt glazed coarse-bodied earthenware fragments, along with shell edge, transfer printed and monochrome painted, fine-bodied earthenware fragments were also found.  Due to the fragmentary nature of the third period ceramic assemblage, most likely the result of the early-to-mid 20th century disturbance and re-deposition, the form of most ceramic artifacts could not be determined, although several diagnostic plate and bowl, and milk pan fragments were observed.

Other artifact categories represented within the third period assemblage include: food related faunal artifacts, represented by cattle and to a lesser extent, unidentified mammal and pig; hygiene/medicinal debris include several of the chamber pots identified in lower layers were also identified. Additionally, energy debris, consisting mostly of charcoal, though lesser amounts of coal and slag were also recovered.