Archaeology Update — Exciting Finds In The Long Barrack

Kristi Nichols, Director of Archaeology, Collections and Historical Research
September 3, 2019

Excavations within and around the Long Barrack continue to encounter exciting finds. Excavations in the southernmost unit of the Long Barrack appears to have encountered the base of the west and south wall foundations at approximately 130–140 cm (4.2–4.6 ft) below datum, or approximately 100–110 cm (3.2–3.6 ft) below the flagging stone. In the final levels of excavations, the artifact counts decreased. The materials encountered in these final levels possibly represent the early colonial and protohistoric periods.

The artifacts encountered in the last level of excavations consisted of lithics, Native American-made pottery, and more. No more archaeological excavations are planned to occur in this unit. The Historic Architects will perform their investigations in the coming weeks.

Archaeologist digging inside an excavation unit
Figure 1. Excavations in Unit 10 on the west side of the Long Barrack.

Excavations Units 10 and 11, located on the interior and exterior of the central portion of the west wall of Long Barrack, are revealing additional information concerning the construction of the west wall. On the interior (Excavation Unit 11), archaeologists are continuing to encounter evidence of compacted surfaces. These surfaces are composed of caliche and soil.

Along the west wall, and one of the interior cross-walls, the archaeologists discovered evidence that they are out of the builder’s trench. The excavations during the second half of the week found that the soils beneath the builder’s trench appears to be consistent with the compacted surfaces that are potentially floors.

By the end of the week, excavations extended to approximately 110 cm (3.6 ft) below datum, or 80 cm (2.6 ft) below the flagstone. Artifacts coming out of the unit this week have included glass fragments, nails, unidentified metal, a shell button, and a lithic uniface. Unifaces are created during stone tool production, and are determine by evidence of work on only one face of the stone flake.

Pipe opening inside of an excavation unit
Figure 2. Pipe noted on the interior of the north wall of the Long Barrack.

On the exterior (Excavation Unit 11), the excavations extended to approximately 90cm below the datum, or 60 cm (1.9 ft) below the flagstone, by the end of the week. The soil encountered still consists of fill relating to the many different construction activities during the 20th century. Artifacts observed include late 19th to early 20th century ceramic sherds, glass fragments, metal, clay brick tile fragments, and one lead shot.

The wall of the Long Barrack exhibits a ledge that extends approximately 10 cm from the upper portion of the wall exposed on the surface. Against the wall, there appears to be a sandy mortar treatment, which may contain plaster. This is an interesting feature of the wall that the Historic Architects will be able to interpret.

Archaeologist inside a small excavation unit
Figure 3. Deeper excavations in Unit 12.

The excavation units at the northern end of the Long Barrack (Excavation Unit 12 and 13) have found some interesting alterations to the wall foundation. There appears to be an electrical line that passes through the wall. In Excavation Unit 12, at approximately 60 cm (1.9 ft) below datum, on the interior of the Long Barrack, a pipe was observed in the wall. In the unit on the exterior of the Long Barrack (Excavation Unit 13), several stones appear to be missing from the foundation.

Excavation Unit 12, on the inside, has been excavated to 140 cm (4.6 ft) below datum. The deeper excavation has not produced artifacts. The dark soil has calcium carbonate nodules that are produced naturally, and a few snail shells.

Two archaeologists inside an excavation unit
Figure 4. Excavations in Unit 13, north of the north wall of Long Barrack.

At approximately 40 cm (1.3 ft) below datum, or 30 cm (0.98 ft) in Excavation Unit 13, a layer of limestone was noted that made up most of the center portion of the unit, running east-west. The stones appear just below the road base material, approximately 10 cm (0.32 ft) below the base of the concrete slab. The soil was excavated around the stones to determine if there was another layer of stone beneath.

If there was a layer beneath, this could potentially indicate a possible foundation. The excavations around the stones found that the stone appeared to be sitting on top of soil. After documenting the stones, they were removed to allow for continued excavations in the unit. The artifacts encountered in upper level Excavation Unit 13 are a mixture of 18th to 20th century material. Photographs from the 1970s work in the area indicate that there has been a lot of construction activity in the vicinity.

Shell and a shell fragment inside the palm of a hand
Figure 5. Shell recovered from Unit 13.

After the stones were removed, there was a change in the soil and artifact types that were encountered. The archaeologists noted an increase in Spanish Colonial lead-glazed ceramics, faunal remains, and shell. Two types of shell were observed: freshwater mussel and a type of marine shell, possibly the Giant Heart Cockle. Excavations will continue in these same areas during the following week.