Feature 2000-1 was the mystery pit of the 2000 excavation at Odessa Yates. The east half of the pit was excavated revealing a shallow pit with a small basin hearth in the center. No postholes could be seen, however, so it was unclear whether Feature 2000-1 was a roasting pit (why a basin hearth in a roasting pit?) or a small structure (where's the posthole to hold up the roof?). The first 2 levels were chock full of burned and unburned bison bone with spiral fractures (grease/marrow processing?), mussel shell, turtle shell, flakes, and burned pottery sherds. It looked pretty much like a trash dump. In the lower 2 levels, however, very little refuse showed up.
Feature 2000-1 was identified last winter as a crop mark in the winter wheat. An earlier geophysical survey showed an anomaly in this area. A gradiometer (an instrument that measures the magnetic field gradient) showed that the strong and weak magnetic flow lines were "willy-nilly" but detected that the soil had been heated over 660 degrees C. The Archaeo-Physics crew took soil samples every 10 cm along a N-S axis within the feature (see photo above) to measure the soil's magnetic susceptibility and for anahistoretic remnant magnetism (ARM). This analysis will occur over the winter at the Archaeo-Physics lab in Minnesota. ARM measures the magnetic moment of the soil which will show whether the material was burned in situ (having a very strong magnetic reading) or the heating took place elsewhere and the burned material was dumped in the pit (thanks to Natalie Starkovich for her notes from the Archaeo-Physics lecture at field school).
To help resolve the mystery of Feature 2000-1, on Wednesday, August 16, a 1 meter square was started in the center of the dark stain (where the letterboard in the above photo is sitting). If a center post were present, the posthole should show up in that square. On Thursday, the posthole appeared (see photo below) in its predicted position in the floor of Level 4 (roughly the bottom of this pit).
To view a history of the excavation of Feature 2000-1 over the three weeks of the field school, click on the thumbnails below:
|Lauren O'Shea and Natalie Starkovich celebrate '70's Day in Feature 1.||The dark stain shows the outline of the pit in this photo.|
Part of the fill in the mystery pit -- carapace and plastron of a 700 year old box turtle.
|A. Washita point from Alibates chert.
B. Brynn's finger for scale.
|The mystery pit revealed.||Brynn, Lauren, Natalie and Rich -- a happy group.|
Lauren and Natalie call it a wrap after three weeks hard work.
Back to Features Page
Back to Odessa Yates Home Page