Posted by: Brian | October 17, 2009

Backyard Archaeology

Backyard Archaeology at the Levin's site

Backyard Archaeology at the Levin's site

The wet weather on Wednesday and Thursday continued to challenge us. Instead of returning to our saturated church site, we decided to start our backyard archaeology. The Levin’s have offered us their backyard. They have found a lot of domestic trash while digging their garden plots. So it’s not surprising that we are finding a lot of artifacts. Our research goal is to determine whether the finds are from a pit feature or from a sheet midden. We also want to be able to understand the time period represented by the refuse. How long did people living in the Hamline neighborhood continue to discard trash in their backyards? Does the condition or type of trash change over time?

Based on what the Levin’s found earlier and what we’ve seen so far, it looks like the trash is at least from the mid 19th century and includes a massive amount of what looks like hardened fire ash or other burned residue. From my conversations with Hamline neighborhood residents, it sounds as if people may have had burn barrels until relatively recently (1970s?). The residents were apparently responsible for disposing the residue in their burn barrels. It seems possible that what we’re finding in the upper 20 cms of our backyard dig is a lot of burn barrel residuals and a little bit of other garbage (including large mammal bone). I’m eager to get back to this dig and see what the next levels produce.

A hanger and a large animal bone (in the lower left). The bone, most likely from a cow, is part of a pelvis (hip joint). Makes me wonder what someone was doing with a cow's rump?

A hanger and a large animal bone (in the lower left). The bone, most likely from a cow, is part of a pelvis (hip joint). Makes me wonder what someone was doing with this part of a cow's rump?

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Responses

  1. Our house was built in 1890. Every time we expand the garden or rototill it, we find odd artifacts. Most often it’ll be shards of crockery or dishes. We suspect my garden is over the site of the outhouse or burn barrel.

    • Daisy – Your garden sounds like an ideal archaeological dig site. Houses built before the turn of the century tend to have fascinating backyards.


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