EVALUATION OF 46MD61, AN ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE AT WAR,
MCDOWELL COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA

J. Brantley Jackson, M.A., J.D., RPA
Huntington District Archeologist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


INTRODUCTION

Cultural Resource Analysts, Inc. (CRAI), under contract with Potesta and Associates, Inc., provided Phase I (survey) and Phase II (testing) services at the location of a planned PreK/8 school in War, McDowell County, West Virginia. CRAI reported an archeological site at the new school location—the football field in front of the existing Big Creek High School. "Football field" in this report means the 100 yard playing field and the 10 yard end zone on each end of the playing field, a total of 120 yds (110 m). The field has been used for football since 1931. The Big Creek High School buildings will be transferred to the City of War and the school’s students will be consolidated into a new high school being constructed in Bradshaw, McDowell County, West Virginia.

The new PreK/8 school at the football field will be built on a concrete slab. Before the new school can be built the field must be leveled as it now rises more than 2 m (7 ft) from the southwest corner of the western end zone to the northeast corner of the eastern end zone. First, the grass and organic matter at the surface will be removed to a depth of about 15 cm (6 in). Then fill will be brought in and compacted to level the field at an elevation of 415.54 m (1,363.33 ft) amsl. Trenches for foundation footers and utilities will be excavated to depths of about 1 m (3 ft). Depending on their locations in the football field, the trenches could extend into sediments below the organic matter that will be removed before the fill is placed. The slope of the present field is not even, but approximately from the 50 yard line east the fill will be less than 1 m (3 ft) while west of the 50 yard line the fill will exceed 1 m (3 ft).

CRAI’s archeological survey documented archeological site 46MD61 in the football field through a series of 32 shovel probes each approximately 50 cm in diameter, eight of which were augered to greater depths (Smith 2004). The site had prehistoric and historic components. CRAI reported a possible Late Archaic component based on a hafted biface fragment and a Middle to Late Woodland component based on three ceramic sherds. A historic residential component dating to the early twentieth century was established on the basis of abundant artifacts and what was thought to be remnants of three stone foundations.

CRAI tested the site with 10 50 cm x 50 cm shovel tests, nine 1 m x 1 m test units and one 0.5 m x 1 m test unit (Pullins and Updike 2005). These tests defined the horizontal extent and the depths of the overlapping prehistoric and historic components. The early twentieth century historic component consists of abundant artifacts (n= 2,739), a possible cellar, a posthole, a post mold, and a thin historic midden. Pullins and Updike described the prehistoric component as five post molds, all recorded in one 1 m x 1 m test unit, and 806 prehistoric artifacts, including 139 ceramic vessel fragments. Note that 1,994 historic artifacts and 762 prehistoric artifacts, including 139 ceramic vessel sherds, were recovered from the test units and Feature 11, a historic occupation midden that separates some A1 and A2 strata. The remaining artifacts were recovered from other features, shovel tests and floatation samples taken from features. 46MD61 is the only recorded prehistoric archeological site in McDowell County containing ceramics. Pullins and Updike (2005:117) concluded that both the historic and prehistoric components of 46MD61 are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, based on Criterion D for research potential. They did not provide "important research questions and gaps in current knowledge" that they stated could be addressed with information from the site.

 

DATA SUMMARY

The information in this summary is taken from CRAI’s testing report (Pullins and Updike 2005). The locations of all test units referred to in this discussion are depicted on Figure 4-1 of Pullins and Updike 2005. Use of the terms "stratum" and "strata" by Pullins and Updike to vertically separate sediments observed in the 10 test units is more applicable to archeological designations than to soil layers. "Stratum" and "strata" in CRAI’s report correspond to the authors’ interpretation of Stratum A as an A-horizon soil overlying Stratum A2 that is described as a "well developed buried A-horizon" soil, and Stratum B as a B-horizon soil (Pullins and Updike 2005:39, Fig. 4-5). The authors interpret the A-horizon soil in TUs 2, 8 and 9 to be plowzone (that is, an Ap-horizon) but believe that the A-horizon soils in TUs 1,3 and 4 where they overlie historic features are "probably equivalent to Stratum A1" (their A1-horizon soils) in TUs 5,6,7, and 10 "representing a more recently developed horizon." Data presented in the following DISCUSSION Section demonstrate that strata A, A1 and A2 are Ap-horizons (plowzone) rather than intact soil horizons.

The strata and artifact data from all test units are grossly summarized in Table 1. The surface elevation and depths of strata are summarized in Table 2. It must be noted that the elevations recorded by CRAI are approximately 1.59 m higher than elevations established by construction planning surveys at this location. For example, the elevation of the compacted fill on which the new PreK/8 school will be built is set at 415.54 m (1,363.33 ft) amsl, this corresponds to approximately the elevation of CRAI’s TU 3 that is reported at 417.13 m (1,368.54 ft) amsl. The strata are briefly described in Table 3.

Table 1. Strata and Artifact Summary by Test Unit.

Stratum

TU1

TU2

T 3

TU4

TU5

TU6

TU7

TU8

TU9

TU10

Total

A

178/3*

286/28

24/0

92/4

     

174/86

53/86

 

807/207

A1

       

157/5

137/0

69/4

   

141/19

504/28

F11

         

424/11

77/5

     

501/16

A2

       

83/60

17/100

43/213

   

22/84

165/457

B

 

12/2

     

0/19

5/27

0/6

   

17/54

Total

178/3

298/30

24/0

92/4

240/65

578/130

194/249

174/92

53/86

163/103

1994/762

*historic/prehistoric artifacts.

 

Table 2. Elevation and Strata Depth Below Surface by Test Unit.*

 

TU4

TU1

TU10

TU9

TU8

TU7

TU5

TU6

TU2

TU3

Elevation**

415.19

415.24

415.35

415.5

415.81

415.99

416.06

416.15

416.44

417.13

A

0-10

0-16

 

0-23

0-29

     

0-15

0-10

A1

   

0-12

   

0-11

0-9

0-12

   

F11

         

11-18

 

12-17

   

A2

   

12-28

   

18-33

9-33

17-34

   

B

   

28-?

23-?

29-52+

33-55+

33-?

34-54+

15-29+

10-?

*From lowest elevation to highest elevation.
**Elevations in meters above mean seal level (amsl) and depths below surface in centimeters (cm bs) at southwest corner of unit.

 

Test Unit 1.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 415.24 m amsl. Stratum A is described as a very dark brown silty loam extending to 16 cm bs over a large historic feature, possibly a cellar (Feature 1). Historic artifacts (n=178) were recovered throughout Stratum A, but prehistoric artifacts (n=3) were limited to the upper 10 cm of the stratum.

Test Unit 2.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 416.44 m amsl. Stratum A in this unit is characterized as a very dark brown sandy loam 15 cm thick that contained historic (n=286) and prehistoric (n=28) artifacts. The uppermost 10 cm (15 – 25 cm bs ) of the underlying sediments, Stratum B, described as a yellowish brown silty sand yielded historic (n=12) and prehistoric (n=2) artifacts. The next 4 cm from 25-29 cm bs were culturally sterile and at 29 cm bs, concentrated embedded rounded cobbles were encountered in the sediments.

Test Unit 3.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 417.13 m amsl. Stratum A is described as a 10 cm thick very dark brown silty loam and contained 24 historic artifacts but no prehistoric artifacts. Stratum B, characterized as yellowish brown silty sand, was exposed in a portion of the unit, but most of the unit was occupied by a recent historic feature—a large poured concrete post support.

Test Unit 4.

The southwest corner of this 1 x 0.5 m unit is at 415.19 m amsl. Stratum A is characterized as a very dark brown silty loam, only 10 cm thick, with historic (n=92) and prehistoric (n=4) artifacts. Feature 1, described as possibly a cellar and also reported in TU1, underlies Stratum A.

Test Unit 5.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 416.06 m amsl. Stratum A1 is reported as a very dark brown silty loam 9 cm thick that had mixed historic (n=157) and prehistoric (n=5) artifacts. Immediately below A1 is Stratum A2, described as a "buried A horizon" of dark yellowish brown silty loam, 24 cm thick, from 9 to 33 cm bs that had historic (n=83) and prehistoric (n=60) artifacts restricted to the upper 20 cm of the deposit, i.e., no more than 29 cm bs. The underlying culturally sterile Stratum B, beginning 33 cm below surface, is characterized as yellowish silty sand with dense rounded cobbles. While the report does not include a photograph of TU 5, the south profile (Pullins and Updike 2005:Fig. 4-13) indicates that the tops of rounded cobbles began to appear about 25 cm bs.

Test Unit 6.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 416.15 m amsl. Stratum A1 is described as a black silty loam 12 cm thick with historic artifacts (n=137). Below Stratum A1 is Feature 11, reported as a 5 cm thick historic midden with 424 historic artifacts and 11 prehistoric artifacts. Underlying the historic midden is Stratum A2 about 17 cm thick. This stratum is described as a buried A-horizon of very dark brown silty loam that had mixed historic (n=17) and prehistoric (n=100) artifacts. Stratum B, characterized as a yellowish brown silty sand contained no historic artifacts, but had 14 prehistoric artifacts in its uppermost 10 cm (34 – 44 cm bs) and five prehistoric artifacts in the next 10 cm (44 -54 cm bs) where dense rounded cobbles were encountered similar to stratigraphy in TUs 2 and 5.

Test Unit 7.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 415.99 m amsl. Stratum A1 is characterized as a black silty loam 11 cm thick that had mixed historic (n=69) and prehistoric (n=4) artifacts. Feature 11, reported as a historic midden about 7 cm thick, underlies Stratum A1, as it was also described in TU 6. Feature 11 contained 77 historic artifacts and five prehistoric artifacts. Below Feature 11, Stratum A2, characterized as a 15 cm thick "buried A-horizon" of very dark brown silty loam, contained 43 historic artifacts and 213 prehistoric artifacts. The underlying Stratum B is described as yellowish brown silty sand. Stratum B contained five historic artifacts in its uppermost 10 cm (33 - 44 cm bs), 26 prehistoric artifacts in the 33 – 44 cm bs level and 1 prehistoric artifact in the 44 -54 cm bs level.

Test Unit 8.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 415.81 m amsl. Stratum A is described as a very dark brown silty loam 29 cm thick that had mixed historic (n=174) and prehistoric (n=86) artifacts. Plow scars were observed at the base of Stratum A. Stratum B, characterized as yellowish brown silty sand, yielded 6 prehistoric artifacts in the 29 - 39 cm bs level, but no historic artifacts. No artifacts were recovered in the 39 – 52 cm bs level.

Test Unit 9.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 415.5 m amsl. Stratum A is reported as black silty loam 23 cm thick that contained mixed historic (n=53) and prehistoric (n=86) artifacts. Stratum B is described as a yellowish brown silty sand in which the bases of five postmolds were identified. The authors thought that the post molds "likely originated at the top of Stratum B," variously described as 22, 23 or 24 cm bs. No artifacts were found in this stratum although five flakes were recovered from two of the postmolds.

Test Unit 10.

The southwest corner of this 1 m x 1 m unit is at 415.35 m amsl. Stratum A1 is characterized as a very dark brown silty loam about 12 cm thick that had mixed historic (n=141) and prehistoric (n=19) artifacts. Stratum A2 is described as a buried A-horizon of dark brown silty loam16 cm thick (12 – 28 cm bs) with 22 historic and 84 prehistoric artifacts. Stratum B, a yellowish brown silty sand, was encountered at 28 cm bs but was not excavated.

Table 3. Strata Description by Test Unit.

 

A

A1

F11

A2

B

TU 1

         

Sediment description

Very dark brown silty loam

       

Comments

Overlies F1, possible cellar

       

TU2

         

Sediment description

Very dark brown sandy loam

     

Yellowish brown silty sand

TU3

         

Sediment description

Very dark brown silty loam

Yellowish brown silty sand

Comments

Concrete under most of unit

       

TU4

         

Sediment description

Very dark brown silty loam

       

Comments

Overlies F1, possible cellar

       

TU5

         

Sediment description

 

Very dark brown silty loam

 

Dark yellowish brown silty loam

Yellowish silty sand

TU6

         

Sediment description

 

Black silty loam

Black silty loam with cinder/slag

Very dark brown silty loam

Yellowish brown silty sand

TU7

         

Sediment description

 

Black silty loam

Black silty loam with cinder/slag

Very dark brown silty loam

Yellowish brown silty sand

TU8

         

Sediment description

Very dark brown silty loam

     

Yellowish brown silty sand

Comments

Plow scars at base of A

       

TU9

         

Sediment description

Black silty loam

     

Yellowish brown silty sand

TU10

         

Sediment description

 

Very dark brown silty loam

 

Dark brown silty loam

Yellowish brown silty sand

Comments

       

Not excavated

 

DISCUSSION

A close review of the archeological testing report at 46MD61 reveals misinterpretations about the sediments and the nature, integrity and significance of the historic and prehistoric occupations.

Sediments

Pullins and Updike (2005:39) term Stratum A an "A-horizon" soil. It should be more accurately designated an Ap-horizon soil as it has been plowed. Plow scars were observed at the base of Stratum A in TU 8 at a depth of 29 cm bs. Pullins and Updike (2005:39) acknowledge that Stratum A, as recorded in TUs 2, 8 and 9 "likely represents an undifferentiated plowzone." Pullins and Updike apparently interpret their A1 stratum as an intact A-horizon soil. However, they make no mention of an overlying O horizon, the uppermost soil layer dominated by organic material, and in no case do the authors provide information to support a determination that any of the strata (read soil horizons) are intact. Despite their statement that that "As will be seen in the following chapter concerning the prehistoric component, Stratum A2 clearly represents an intact buried A-horizon" (Pullins and Updike 2005:74), they failed to follow up on their assertion as no such discussion is presented in the following chapter or elsewhere in the report. The authors state that Stratum B contains only "incidental prehistoric materials" an equivocal statement of condition (Pullins and Updike 2005: Fig. 4-5). Oddly, they do not mention that in addition to "incidental prehistoric materials," Stratum B also contained incidental historic materials; these historic materials indicate a historic era disturbance of Stratum B. The descriptions of the strata in the report (Pullins and Updike 2005) do not support the conclusion that the A2 and B strata are undisturbed. It is more likely these contexts have been affected by such historic activities as plowing (A2) and stock trampling (B).

Pullins and Updike (2005:39) interpret Stratum A2, observed in TUs 5, 6, 7, and 10, as a "well developed buried A-horizon" soil with a gradual and "well-developed" transition to Stratum B. They also state that "Stratum A2 clearly represents an intact buried A-horizon containing prehistoric artifacts" (Pullins and Updike 2005:74) but present no data to substantiate that conclusion. The interpretations are apparently based on color and the vertical placement of the strata. Color is only one of a number of characteristics used to determine soil horizons. Without any description of other important characteristics such as structure, consistence, development of soil peds, etc., it is likely that the difference in color between A1 and A2 strata is due to downward movement of colloidal material by water infiltration. Stratum A2 is simply the lower portion of what, in TUs 2, 8 and 9 is designated Stratum A.

Stratum A2 is separated from Stratum A1 by historic F11 in two of the four test units in which both strata were observed. F11 is a historic trash midden. It is recorded in TUs 6 and 7 between A1 and A2 strata beginning approximately 11 - 12 cm bs and is 3 - 7 cm thick. F11 demarks the earlier historic occupation (A2) when the site area was plowed from the later residential occupation (A and A1). This time difference is illustrated by the presence of architectural artifacts that were recovered in F11 of both TUs 6 and 7 but not from substratum A2 below F11 in TU 6 and only three (of 28) from A2 in TU 7 while other historic artifacts mixed with prehistoric artifacts were recovered in A2 sediments below F11 in both TUs 6 and 7. Architectural artifacts were recovered throughout the A, A1 and A2 strata in all other test units where those strata are recorded. The distribution of architectural artifacts in these other test units indicates that plowing occurred in these areas of the site after the F11 midden was established in TUs 6 and 7.

Another indication of this separation of the earlier and later (residential) historic occupation is the distribution of prehistoric artifacts in TUs 6 and 7. There were no prehistoric artifacts above F11 in TU6, where 119 prehistoric artifacts were recovered below F11 (11 in F11), and in TU7, where only four prehistoric artifacts were above F11 (5 in F11), while 119 were recovered below F11.

It is noteworthy that with only three exceptions, the A or A1 stratum in every test unit was described as very dark brown silty loam. In the other three test units, Stratum A (TU 9) or A1 (TUs 6 and 7) was described as black silty loam and in the A1 units (6 and 7) historic feature F11 midden lay directly beneath the A1 stratum and was described as black silty loam (with cinder/slag). The A1/A2 distinction was made in four TUs. The A2 stratum in two of these units (TUs 6 and 7) below F 11, underlying a black silty loam A1, was described as very dark brown silty loam, the same as the A or A1 stratum in seven units. The other A2 strata were under A1 strata that were described as very dark brown silty loam (TUs 5 and 10). One of these A2 strata (TU 10) was described as dark brown silty loam and the other (TU 5) as dark yellowish brown silty loam.

The site was plowed in the early twentieth century before it was occupied as a residential base by persons apparently associated with coal mining. Plow scars were recorded in only one test unit, TU 8, where they were observed at the base of Stratum A, at 29 cm bs. While plow scars were not observed in other test units, the sediment descriptions and mixture of prehistoric and historic artifacts in the other test units substantiates early plowing over the entire site to a depth of about 29-34 cm bs. The depth of the plowzone at 29-34 cm bs is equivalent to 11.4-13.4 in. That general depth and the range of variation are expectable in early plowing, especially on terrain that is not level. Stratum A was identified in test units on the northern half of the football field (TUs 2, 3, 8, and 9) and in the southwestern corner of the football field (TUs 1 and 4) where it lay immediately above a possible historic cellar. Except for the identification in TU 10 where Stratum A was reported over a recent historic feature and TUs 1 and 4, where Stratum A was reported over the possible cellar, it would seem that Stratum A might represent sediments that were plowed after the historic residential occupation began. That is still possible as the "Stratum A" of TUs 1 and 4 may be the result of site clearing activities associated with removal of the residence and preparation of the area for construction of the high school and football field. In TU 3, sediments identified as "Stratum A" have "developed" only since the large poured concrete post support that appears to be associated with the football field was constructed—not earlier than 1931.

Putting aside TUs 1, 3 and 4 where historic features were encountered at shallow depths (10 – 16 cm bs), six of the remaining seven TUs had Stratum A or Substrata A1 and A2 from 22 cm to 34 cm deep. TU 10, lowest on the slope (415.35 m amsl) where slope wash should be thickest, had substrata A1 and A2 to 28 cm bs. In TU 9 (415.50 m amsl), Stratum A was recorded to 22 cm bs. TU 8 is next on the slope at 415.81 m amsl, with Stratum A to 29 cm bs — right in the middle of the seven depths of A, or A1 and A2. TU 7, next up slope at 415.99 m amsl, had a thin substratum A1 (11 cm) over historic Feature 11 (7 cm thick) underlain by substratum A2 extending to 33 cm bs. TU 5 at 416.06 m amsl had Stratum A to a depth of 29 cm bs. In TU 6 at 416.15 m amsl, Substrata A1 and A2 were separated by historic Feature 11 and extended to 34 cm bs. TU 2, high on the slope at 416.44 m amsl, had an A Stratum 15 cm thick, which is the thinnest of any A or combination of A1 and A2 strata in the seven test units that did not encounter historic features. That is not surprising as this test unit is also the highest on the slope of these seven units and is therefore most likely to have its upper deposits thinned by down slope movement of materials, especially after being plowed. Also, in TU 2, Stratum B is very stony with large cobbles that would have caused a plow to ride up over the stones.

Historic Features

Six historic features were identified at the site in test units shovel tests. F1, a possible cellar was identified in TUs 1 and 4 and in Shovel Tests 1, 2 and 3 in the southwestern corner of the football field. The feature was characterized as "a deposit of flat, angular sandstone slabs beneath Stratum A" (Pullins and Updike 2005:69). In TU 1, approximately 24 cm of fill was removed from F1 (to 42 cm bs), in TU 4, the uppermost 10 cm of fill was removed from the feature, and in ST 3, approximately 9 cm of feature fill was removed. Pockets of cinder and burned material were recovered in the upper portion of F1 in TU 1. Ninety-four early twentieth century artifacts and three prehistoric artifacts were recovered from F1. Architectural artifacts (n=36) and domestic artifacts (n=36) dominate the feature assemblage. The architectural artifacts indicate a frame structure with a possible brick chimney. It appears that F1, possibly a cellar or the crawl space beneath a house, is filled with pieces flat angular sandstone as a result of clearing the site before Big Creek High School and the football field were established in 1931. In ST 7, west of F1, a layer of coal and cinder was recorded between the base of Stratum A and above Stratum B. This layer was not given a feature number but it appears to represent an area of coal fuel storage and/or waste deposit associated with the frame structure above F1.

F2 is described as a posthole, identified in ST 9 that was expanded to TU 5. This post hole is in Stratum A2; it originated at the base of Stratum A1 and contained historic artifacts (Pullins and Updike 2005:70). F2 is near the center of the football field and Pullins and Updike (2005:73) offer the possibility that it may have had a function related to the use of this athletic field.

F3 is described as a postmold in Stratum A2 of TU 7; it originated at the base of F11, a historic midden and contained historic artifacts.

F9 is recorded 20 cm bs at the base of Stratum A in ST 10. F9 is a historic disturbance in an anomaly that a geophysical survey identified as suggesting "a vertical iron pipe, perhaps a well casing" (Pullins and Updike 2005:73. Historic artifacts (n=163) were recovered from ST10 above F9 which was not excavated beyond a few centimeters. Artifacts were mostly domestic (n=80) and architectural (n=53), but no details are reported on the types of architectural artifacts (Pullins and Updike 2005:73, Table 5-6). F9 "is located at the midpoint between the north and south boundaries of the football field, and may be related to the field in some way" (Pullins and Updike 2005:73).

F10 is a large concrete pad recorded 10 cm bs at the base of Stratum A in TU3 in the northeast corner of the eastern end zone of the football field. An 11 inch diameter hole in the center has a concrete base and the feature appears to have supported a light pole and apparently dates to the early football field use (Pullins and Updike 2005:73-74).

F11 is described as an historic midden. It is recorded in TUs 6 and 7 between the A1 and A2 strata as discussed above in Sediments. F11 is approximately 3 - 7 cm thick and is recorded 11 - 12 cm bs. F11 is artifact-rich with 501 historic artifacts (and 16 prehistoric artifacts). F11 separates earlier (Stratum A1 and later (Stratum A2) historic occupations with architectural elements present in the higher A1 but absent or minimal in the lower A2 in these two test units (Pullins and Updike 2005:52-55, 74-76, Table 4-8, 4-9, 5-5, Figure 4-14,4-15,4-16, 4-17).

Two of the six recorded historic features, F9 and F10, are of recent origin and are possibly related to use of the football field. Another feature, F2, may also be related to the use of the athletic field as indicated by its position. Only F1, the possible cellar, F3, the historic postmold, and F11, the midden, date to the historic residential period of the site occupation. As discussed in Prehistoric Features, it is possible that five postmold features, F4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, recorded in TU 9 are actually historic postmolds that may be related to the historic occupation. The upper portion of F1 appears to have been disturbed by removal of a frame structure above it. F3, the historic postmold, and the F11 historic midden appear to be undisturbed by later activities.

 

Prehistoric Features

The five "prehistoric" postmolds recorded in TU 9, in two of which five flakes were found, may be historic or prehistoric. These five postmolds originated somewhere above the base of Stratum B, level 1, an arbitrary 12 cm thick level, as they were identified during the excavation of that stratum (Pullins and Updike 2005:60). Stratum B is distinguished from the overlying Stratum A at 23 cm bs. The authors posit that the postmolds "likely originated at the top of Stratum B" (Pullins and Updike 2005:60), but that is uncertain. It is more likely that the posts originated from an occupation surface at a higher level in what is now Stratum A. The base of Stratum A appears to mark the base of the historic plowzone as was recognized in TU 8. The postmolds would have been truncated by plowing that removed the occupation surface and delineates the contact between the A (Ap) and B-horizons. No information is presented in the report on the depths of the two excavated postmolds, F4 and F5. Figure 4-20 shows the north profile with F4. If the postmolds originated at the top of Stratum B, then F4 would be about 15 cm (6 in) deep.

Indeed, it appears that any prehistoric occupation surface at this site has been removed by plowing sometime before the early twentieth century residential occupation of the site. The evidence for such removal is stark and abundant. It is also possible that the post molds are not prehistoric, but historic. The fact that the two postmolds that were excavated contained a total of five flakes means little when 86 prehistoric artifacts were recovered in TU 9 in Stratum A above the postmolds. Prehistoric artifacts could have become incorporated into these postmolds if the holes for posts were excavated in the early twentieth century, especially in the early part of the historic occupation before historic artifacts were scattered about. The evidence for these postmolds being prehistoric is equivocal and depends entirely on the negative evidence of no historic artifacts in the fill.

 

Distribution of artifacts

The following discussion utilizes strata designations and artifact counts presented by Pullins and Updike (2005). A summary of the occurrence of artifacts by stratum is presented in Table 4. The vertical distribution of historic and prehistoric artifacts at 46MD61 establish the thorough mixing of these materials in all levels and substrata of Stratum A which appears to represent an early twentieth century plowzone.

Table 4. Distribution of Artifacts by Stratum and Historic Feature 11.*

 

Stratum A

A1

F11

A2

B

Total

Historic

807

504

501

165

17

1,994

Prehistoric

207

28

16

457

54

762

Total

1,044

532

1,021

622

71

2,756

*Does not include shovel test data.

Including items found in F 11, 1,994 historic artifacts and 762 prehistoric artifacts were recovered in the 10 test units. Not surprisingly, historic artifacts dominate in the upper sediments (A, A1 and F11) while prehistoric artifacts dominate in the lower sediments (A2 and B), but both historic and prehistoric artifacts occur in all strata. Prehistoric and historic artifacts are mixed in every test unit in which both occur—the exception being TU 3, highest on the slope, where only historic artifacts were recovered. Ignoring the three test units (1, 3 and 4) that are completely or nearly completely underlain by historic features, distribution of mixed artifacts is generally recorded to the base of the A or A2 stratum, but in TU 5 artifacts are not present more than 29 cm bs although the A2 is recorded to 33 cm bs. However, the east profile of TU 5 (Fig. 4-13) indicates that large cobbles were encountered at about 25 cm bs, consistent with the lowest artifacts.

Prehistoric artifacts (n=54, including 15 sherds) were recovered in Stratum B below the A and A1-A2 strata in only four test units, 2, 6, 7, and 8. All of these four test units are in the mid to upslope position of the site and, except for TU 2 which is highest on the slope, are in the area of the prehistoric component with the densest concentration of prehistoric artifacts, reflecting the most intense use. In one of these test units, TU 7, five historic artifacts were mixed with 26 prehistoric artifacts in the upper 11 cm of Stratum B. One prehistoric flake was recovered in the next lower 11 cm level of Stratum B in this unit. Test Unit 2 was similar with 12 historic artifacts and two prehistoric artifacts in a shallow Stratum B. In TU 6, no historic artifacts were recovered in Stratum B but 19 prehistoric artifacts were found, 14 in the upper 10 cm and 5 in the lower 10 cm levels of this stratum. In TU 8, no historic artifacts and only six prehistoric artifacts were recovered in Stratum B.

It is noteworthy that no prehistoric artifacts were recovered below Stratum A2 in TU 5, which is near TUs 6 and 7. The five flakes recovered below Stratum A in TU 9, down slope from TU 8, were in two of the five identified postmolds recognized in Stratum B that appear to have originated at a higher level.

Only 26 prehistoric artifacts (21 flakes, one informal tool and four sherds) are from contexts in Stratum B that did not also contain historic artifacts. Prehistoric artifacts (n=26) that are not mixed with historic artifacts are limited to Stratum B in three test units, TUs 6, 7 and 8, all near the south-central area of the football field and at the eastern (upslope) portion of the prehistoric component. In TU 6, nine pieces of debitage, one informal tool and four ceramic sherds were recovered in level 1 of Stratum B between 34 and 44 cm bs while no historic artifacts were recovered below the base of Stratum A2 at 34 cm bs. Five pieces of debitage were recovered from level 2 of Stratum B in this test unit between 44 and 54 cm bs. In TU 7, one piece of debitage was recovered from level 2 of Stratum B (44 – 55 cm bs) but no historic artifacts were found below Stratum B, level 1 at 44 cm bs. Six pieces of debitage were recovered from level 1of Stratum B (29 – 39 cm bs) in TU 8. Historic artifacts in this test unit were not found below Stratum A at 29 cm bs. The presence of prehistoric artifacts in Stratum B contexts without historic artifacts may truly represent prehistoric occupation uncontaminated by early twentieth century occupation or may have resulted from bioturbation related to early historic occupation such as happens in stock pens and corrals.

Prehistoric ceramic sherds (n=139) were recovered six of the 10 test units, TUs 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. The distribution of prehistoric ceramic sherds at 46MD61 is summarized in Table 5. Most sherds (n=121 or 88.3 percent) were recovered in TUs 6 and 7at mid-slope in the football field and in an area of prehistoric artifact concentration (n=379 of 762 or 48.4 percent). TUs 8 and 9 each produced 6 sherds from Stratum A. Two sherds were recovered from Stratum A2 in TU 5 and two sherds were recovered from Stratum A2 in TU 10. In both TU 6 and TU 7, prehistoric ceramic sherds were recovered in Strata A2 and B. Two sherds were recovered along with 11 other prehistoric artifacts in the F11 midden separating Strata A1 and A2 in TU 6 but no sherds were in the F11 midden in TU 7 where five other prehistoric artifacts were found. The 99 sherds recovered in TU 7 (88 in Stratum A2 and 11 in Stratum B) constitute 71 percent of all the ceramics recovered at the site and may represent a single pot break.

Table 5. Distribution of Prehistoric Ceramic Sherds.

Stratum

TU 5

TU 6

TU 7

TU 8

TU 9

TU 10

Total

A

     

6

6

 

12

A1

             

F11

 

2

       

2

A2

2

18

88

   

2

110

B

 

4

11

     

15

Total

2

24

99

6

6

2

139

Only four of the 139 prehistoric sherds recovered were from a context that did not also contain historic artifacts (TU 6, Stratum B, level 1, 34 - 44 cm bs), and these few sherds could have come from the uppermost part of this level, immediately below Stratum A2. At best, 97 percent (133 of 139) of the ceramics are from contexts with historic materials. None of the prehistoric ceramics are associated with a prehistoric occupation surface or other feature. Similarly, 97 percent (645 of 667) nonceramic prehistoric artifacts are from contexts mixed with historic materials and none are associated with a prehistoric occupation surface or a feature that is clearly prehistoric.

 

Integrity

There is no clear evidence in the description of sediments at the site that any of the strata are intact. On the contrary, as discussed in Sediments and summarized in Table 3, the similarities cited by the report authors among the A, A1 and A2 strata indicate they are distinguishable only in a few instances by color and texture whereas these same differences in color and texture cross among the three strata in other instances. Also, there is no clear evidence presented in this report of any in situ prehistoric artifacts or prehistoric features at this site. Historic and prehistoric artifacts are mixed in Strata A, A1, A2, and B. The prehistoric artifacts in Stratum B below the plowzone (Strata A, A1 and A2), may well reflect bioturbation by domestic stock within a limited area later used for trash disposal by Euroamerican residents. The presence of artifacts in Stratum B is simply not clearly examined in the report. The postmolds in TU 5 may well belong to the early part of this Euroamerican occupation before later plowing of the area truncated their upper portions. These postmolds may be prehistoric but if so, they represent only the lower ends of the posts and no occupation surface is preserved. The only in situ historic features are F11, the trash midden, one post hole, and the lower portion of F1, the possible cellar, the upper portion of which appears to have been smeared by site clearing activities. With no clear evidence of in situ prehistoric artifacts or features, the prehistoric occupation at 46MD61 lacks integrity. There is little of the historic occupation that retains integrity.

 

Construction Activities and Impacts to Archeological Resources

As stated in the INTRODUCTION Section above, the organic layer will be stripped from the football field, removing about 15 cm (6 in) of material, and fill will be brought in and compacted to create a level surface at 415.54 m (1,363.33 ft) amsl on which the new school will be constructed. The amount of fill over sediments below the organic layer will decrease from west to east as the football field slopes up from its southwest corner to its northeast corner. The depth of fill above the present ground surface is presented in Table 6.

Table 6. Test Unit Elevation, Strata and Fill.

 

TU4

TU1

TU10

TU9

TU8

TU7

TU5

TU6

TU2

TU3

Elevation*

413.60

413.65

413.76

413.91

414.22

414.40

414.47

414.56

414.85

415.54

Depth of A/ A1and A2**

A=10

A=16

A1=12 A2=28

A=23

A=29

A1=11 A2=33

A1=9 A2=33

A1=12 A2=34

A=15

A=10

Depth of Fill***

1.94

1.89

1.78

1.63

1.32

1.14

1.07

0.98

0.69

0.0

Comments

Overlies historic feature F1

Overlies historic feature F1

             

Overlies recent historic concrete

* Converted to approximate construction survey measurements by deducting 1.59 m from CRAI measurements (Pullins and Updike 2005).
** in cm, from Pullins and Updike (2005).
*** in m, based on CRAI surface elevation adjusted to approximate construction subgrade elevation measurements. Actual fill will be up to 15 cm deeper, depending on the thickness of the organic matter removed before fill is placed.

The new school building will be constructed on a concrete slab, supported by footers. Trenches for the footers, as well as trenches for utilities, will be excavated about 1 m (3 ft) deep and will extend into sediments below the present organic layer only in the eastern portion of the field. Because the c. 15 cm thick organic layer will be removed, trenches will not penetrate into the sediments below the organic layer until construction survey elevation 414.69 m amsl (0.85 m below the subgrade elevation of 415.54 m amsl. As can be seen in the Table 6 data, stripping of c. 15 cm of organic matter will remove all of Stratum A or A1 from eight of the 10 test units, leaving a portion of Stratum A in only TUs 8 and 9. Since Strata A and A1 are disturbed plowzone, removal of all or a portion of the stratum is of no concern. At a depth of 1 m, the trenches will not penetrate below the fill until the vicinity of TU 2.

Only two test units, TUs 2 and 3, are above 414.69 m amsl, the depth to which 1 m deep trenches will penetrate. TU 2, at elevation 414.85, has a 15 cm thick Stratum A overlying Stratum B. In TU 2, a large number of historic artifacts (n=286) were recovered in the shallow Stratum A and 12 were recovered in Stratum B. Twenty-eight prehistoric artifacts were recovered in Stratum A of TU 2 and only two prehistoric artifacts were recovered in Stratum B. Historic and prehistoric artifacts are mixed in the plowzone (Stratum A) and the underlying Stratum B. This test unit is near the upslope edge of the prehistoric occupation. Trenching would not extend below Stratum A in this area. TU3, in the northeast corner of the football field at construction elevation 415.54, has a 10 cm thick Stratum A overlying a recent concrete slab with a small area of Stratum B exposed in the test unit. No prehistoric artifacts were recovered in TU 3. TU 3 is 32 m from TU 2 and appears to be outside of the area of prehistoric occupation. TU 3 lies outside of the footprint of the new school building and will be under a paved drive (Figure A). No footers or utility trenches will be excavated in this area.

TUs 5 and 6 are also outside of the new building footprint, in a small courtyard on the back side of the building (Figure A). Utility trenches will be excavated in this area, but the surface elevation of these units, ranging from 414.40 to 414.56 m amsl (construction survey elevations), means that excavation of trenches 1 m deep will not extend below the organic layer (uppermost 15 cm) in any unit. F2, the historic posthole in TU5, and F11, the historic midden in TU 6, will not be disturbed.

The remaining TUs, 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10 will be under the concrete slab of the new school building. All of these test units are at elevations with more than 1 m of fill. Thus, the postmolds in T 9, F3, the historic postmold in TU 7, the historic midden (F11) in TU 7, and the possible cellar in TUs 1 and 4 will be encapsulated and protected.

 

CONCLUSION

Excavation of building footers and utility trenches will not extend below the plowzone except in the eastern 30 m of the football field. Prehistoric artifacts were recovered from this area only in TU 2 and only two prehistoric artifacts were recovered below the plowzone in Stratum B, a stratum that contained mixed historic and prehistoric artifacts indicating historic disturbance of the deposits.

The A, A1 and A2 strata at the site have been plowed, mixing historic and prehistoric artifacts and destroying any prehistoric occupation surfaces or features that may have been present. Prehistoric artifacts below the plowzone, at the base of the A, A1 and A2 strata, contain mixed historic and prehistoric artifacts in two of the four test units in which Stratum B deposits were excavated. The prehistoric component of the site lacks integrity. Integrity is the essential element of National Register eligibility. The prehistoric component of 46MD61 is not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The disturbed possible cellar, the historic midden and posthole, and the wide scatter of historic artifacts mixed with prehistoric artifacts offer little opportunity for investigations that may provide information important in history. The historic component of 46MD61 is not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Abundant documentary sources exist on early twentieth century residential occupations related to the coal industry and those resources offer better opportunities to explore such information.

Figure A. The New WAR PreK/8 School Footprint.