Dig Day #4: Artifacts Galore!

Lisette Wittbrodt

Monday, October 10th was another great day for digging. The day started off a little chilly but once we got going, the sun warmed us right up. All the groups made some exciting finds and lots of progress today!

The group in Lot 14 was continuing to uncover their outbuilding, and unfortunately could smell the decaying body of an animal somewhere in their unit. They didn’t find the smelly animal, but did uncover sherds of paned glass, an oyster shell, construction materials and faunal remains, including one very large, fractured bone sticking out of the north wall, which made the smell worth tolerating.

Lot 7 is broken up into two groups. The first, working on STP 4 at the corner of an outbuilding, found a very large ceramic sherd, as well as a mostly intact arm of a porcelain baby doll. They found these artifacts in their second layer, and hope to find a clay layer next, which would possibly mean they’ve located the floor surface of the outbuilding.

The other group working in Lot 7 decided to expand their third STP into a full unit measuring 1m x 1.5m. The group is working along the former corner of the house, which was once the main architectural feature on the property. They had much success with their artifact recovery, collecting toys, including a red die made of glass and a metal wheel about 2 inches in diameter, possibly belonging to a toy truck. The students working here also found a nickel from the 1920s with a buffalo on one side and a Native American’s head on the other, lots of bottle caps, colored glass, faunal remains and ceramics. They found their artifacts in the first soil layer of their unit.

Over in Lot 13, the group exposed the base of a feature they presumed to be a trash pit. The feature extends all the way up the south wall (figure 1) from the top of the fourth soil layer. They were also busy discovering pieces of ceramic and structural materials extending out from the south and west walls, as well as a pale brick on the north wall. They did a lot of work classifying and documenting all of their finds today.


Figure 1: Feature on south wall of Lot 13 outbuilding.

My group split up to work today. Two of our members continued to work in Area 3 at STP 5. They found a large piece of wood three soil layers down that cut straight across their hole going east to west. They had to cut it out to proceed. Also in their third context, they found two bones – one was part of an animal’s arm – and the other one had a more irregular shape and may have been part of a vertebrae (figure 2).


Figure 2: Animal vertebrae bone found in STP 5, Area 3.

Brendan and I worked in Area 1 with everyone else. We started a new unit today in Lot 15 after estimating measurements based on our maps and selecting a likely artifact-rich spot near an old outbuilding on a house lot that once faced 14th Street. Just in our first layer we found several bottle-caps, a shotgun bullet casing, a 1977 nickel, part of a broken comb, and a red button, along with many other artifacts (figure 3). We also found a lot of glass sherds, including some colored and textured pieces, and a small piece of milk-glass which may be a piece broken off from a teacup handle.


Figure 3: Various artifacts collected from Lot 15.

Overall, this was a productive day, and each group made great finds and collected artifacts to contribute to our research for the rest of the semester!

Please mark your calendars for our Open Day at Roosevelt Park on Saturday October 29, from 1-3pm. All are welcome to come and see our excavations in progress, and to learn more about the site from the Wayne State students participating on the dig. (This event is weather permitting and won’t be held if there is rain).