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SCRAP 2009 Archaeology Summer Field School: Jefferson & Randolph

The 2009 SCRAP summer field school took place at the Potter Site in Randolph. This was a continuation of research begun in 2003 and carried out each year since then. Four weeks were spent intensively exploring a series of focal points at the site. Initially, we began with some shovel test pits on the northern edge of the site with the hope of fixing the boundary there. Just over 30 STPs were dug and only two flakes (albeit one of them was a channel flake) were found. This brings the total number of STPs dug at the site to nearly 750 with an overall size of just over 3 acres.

First session crew Excavations begin at J Block

Focus then shifted to expanding on a previously identified hotspot and opening up two other areas identified as sensitive in 2008. Heather Rockwell headed up investigations at the H Block where we had recovered the base to a fluted point in the summer of 2008. The pair of one meter squares that were opened in Octoberfest 2008 were expanded to eight square meters. Although no additional fluted points were recovered, a fairly broad array of scrapers, biface fragments and debitage, including channel flakes, were found. Additionally, the area of the concentration is evidently fairly large, as there was no indication that any boundaries to the hotspot could be identified.

George Leduc headed up investigations at a newly defined area identified as J Block. Here six square meters were dug adjacent to a 2008 shovel test pit that gave up a side scraper, end scraper, biface fragment and channel flake. The additional finds were clustered near the stp and thinned out fairly quickly. A possible feature was identified, but careful excavation exposed it as a rodent burrow. In addition to the debitage and a few tools, the crew also recovered a live toad on the verge of spawning. She was gently relocated to a quieter place.

Test pit at southwest corner of site

The major excitement for the field school revolved around the establishment of the K Block, directed by Nancy DeCourcey assisted by Laura Jefferson. An initial 2 by 2 meter block placed around an STP from 2008 that yielded a pair of end scrapers. This led to expansion and eventual excavation of 12 square meters. The initial excavation produced only a few tools, but as the area grew larger, an impressive number of tools were recovered, eventually totally 44 including channel flakes. A base of a fluted point was found and was clearly identifiable as a Michaud-Neponset type. An adjacent square then produced a complete fluted point that appears to be another one of the same type. This one, however, was a large tip fragment whose broken facet was repaired with a new base. Subsequently another piece was recovered that proved to be a point that was abandoned in manufacture. One side was prepared for fluting but the other had suffered an overly successful attempt at thinning and was rendered too thin for any subsequent fluting. All of these pieces were recovered in situ, as were nearly all of the other tools and tool fragments. Interestingly, the assemblage from this area is quite diverse, with many varieties of scrapers as well as biface fragments and a comparatively low density of chipping debris. Boundaries were identified on two sides, leaving us with obvious directions for expansion in the future.

View from inside Mt. Jasper mine Rich Moberg was able to join the crew during the second session and he headed up the renewal of work on the C Block, which has been under investigation since October of 2003 and has seen work in each Octoberfest since then. Rich has perfected the technique of excavating under and around the large pine tree at the block. Although only 4 more square meters were added to the block, they were able to push the boundaries further out, and in the process recovered the single largest artifact found thus far at the site, a substantial core of an as yet unidentified rhyolite.
Second session crew atop Mt. Jasper Crew member showing fluted point insitu

Finally, a small crew was sent to explore an anomalous STP found at the end of the 2008 Octoberfest. A half dozen flakes of Munsungun chert were found at the extreme southwest corner of the site. Opened to a full square meter, it produced over 250 more flakes of the same material. This concentration contained only Munsungun flakes, with no tool fragments or flakes of any other material. Of particular interest is the fact that the chert was very well preserved and showed no weathering, unlike most of the rest of the site. Clearly, this location will receive more attention in the future.

Shovel testing on first day of fieldwork K Block crew under rain tarp

The field crew was one of the largest in years and included several students from long distances, including Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas. Furthest traveled, however, was David Seungbeum Lee from Seoul, Korea. There was also a strong local contingent, including Doug Dickenson, who we determined was in his twentieth year with SCRAP!

The field school was an unqualified success with major new data coming from the Potter site. An important landmark will be achieved in the near future with the comprehensive usewear analysis of all the tools and a major sample of the debitage. This is being undertaken by Heather Rockwell for her Master’s Thesis under George Odell at the University of Tulsa. The field school is also notable in that despite one of the wettest summers on record, we lost only half an hour to the rain. This was a testimony to the size of the SCRAP tarp inventory which is truly prodigious.

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