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Earth Team Volunteers Dig the Farm

By Teresa Paglione, NRCS Cultural Resource Specialist, Auburn, AL

 

Earth Team Volunteers excavate and screen units in Montgomery, AL
Troy and Auburn University Earth Team Volunteers excavate and screen one of eight 1x2m units on a 1,000 yr old site in Montgomery County.

Over several weekends in February, March, and April, Earth Team Volunteers consisting of archaeologists and students from Troy University, Auburn University, and Auburn University at Montgomery; and members of the Alabama Archaeological Society, tested two sites in Montgomery County at Riverview Plantation, a working farm with hayfields, row crops, wetlands, and mature hardwoods

Garrett Stephens, son of Rory Stephens, NRCS Soil Conservation Tech in Montgomery, and George Martin, retired NRCS soil scientist, also volunteered.

Riverview Plantation contains several prehistoric and historic archaeological sites as well as standing historic (19th century) structures. A portion of the farm is enrolled in the USDA NRCS conservation easement Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP).

Lee Harrison, a professional archaeologist with Panamerican Consultants, used a ground penetrating radar (GPR) and a flux gradiometer (a magnetometer), to determine if there were intact subsurface features on one known site in a hayland pasture. The investigation is on-going but preliminary results are promising.

At another site located in a plowed field, shovel tests indicate the site extends another 100 meters into a wooded tract. In the plowed field, the excavation of four 1x2 meter (3x6ft) units excavated to the bottom of the plowzone (top of undisturbed strata) revealed possible storage pits and a thin, 2-inch (5cm) midden consisting mostly of riverine shell and animal bone. Both sites date to about 1,000 AD and are associated with the Late Woodland period Hope Hull phase.

Student digging.
Garrett Stephens, Earth Team Volunteer
in Montgomery County, helps with the
archeological dig at Riverview Plantation  
in Montgomery, Alabama. 

The Hope Hull phase is defined by plain and red-filmed sand tempered pottery as well as small triangular projectile points (Madison and Hamilton) and very small Tyson-Baber points. These arrow points are typically referred to as "bird points" outside the archeological community.

More field trips are planned to both sites this spring and summer as the investigations continue to define the sites' horizontal length and width and their vertical depths across the landscape.

Determining the size and depth of these two important sites will help guide the future planning of farm practices as well as add to the archaeological database regarding the Hope Hull phase of central Alabama.

Progress in the field cannot be accomplished without our Earth Team Volunteers. Thank you for your help.

 

Troy volunteers trowel the bottom of the plowzone to stratum of shell and sterile sand.
Troy volunteers trowel the bottom of the plowzone to stratum of shell and sterile sand.

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) used to determine if there were intact subsurface features.
Ground penetrating radar (GPR) used to determine if there were intact subsurface features.   

Items found by Garrett in Paleo field.
Garrett's find in paleo field.