Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dig Day 13. Today we finished our big maps, showing the location of everything found so far. Dan stripped out the asphalt and concrete floor of the last section of the old bus terminal that we are exploring. Tomorrow he will strip the area to see what features are hidden in the dirt below.

One of the primary research tools I use are old fire insurance maps. These were created so that insurance adjusters in far off places like New York City could determine whether they wanted to insure a property in Tucson. The original maps are color coded by building material (adobe is pink) and contain notations about what sort of use the building has, the location of chimneys, and the placement of fire hydrants.

The 1883 map shows the two duplex houses, two wells, and three outhouses (unfortunately, the copy I had available today is blurry). The 1886 map is similar, but they stopped showing locations of the outhouses and wells.

1886 fire insurance map.

Between 1904 and 1909, another pair of houses, a set of commercial buildings (restaurant, saloon, and a grocery store), and a planing mill were built on the block. We have found the saw pit for the planing mill, which made crown molding, doors, and windows (the pit contained huge amounts of broken window glass). The mill was in operation from 1908 to 1914.

1909 fire insurance map, the planing mill is along the top right side of the block.

The commercial buildings were rebuilt and expanded, with a basement dug beneath them, destroying some of the archaeology of the site.

1949 fire insurance map.

Almost everything was torn down in November 1957, when most of the block was converted into a parking lot.

Chris, George, and Ken excavated in an outhouse pit, probably associated with the restaurant on the 1909 map. It is down to the five foot level and I stuck the probe in and it is about two feet deeper. We will have to strip the surrounding area down to get the bottom fill.

Restaurant outhouse pit.

The pit contains a very thick layer of white ash, apparently the restaurant had wood cook stoves. There were relatively few artifacts, mostly thick, durable whiteware restaurant dishes, broken goblets and water glasses, and only one whole bottle- a lovely green olive or pickle bottle that George found.

Chris sorting artifacts.

I demonstrated my superior shovel skills on the last level, I am pleased that at 48 I can still basically drop a shovel full of dirt into the screen with ease from the bottom of a deep pit. As I was clearing out the level (we are digging the outhouse pits in eight-inch-deep [20-cm] arbitrary levels), I found a pressed or engraved glass flower vase.

Flower vase.

Tomorrow we are having aerial photographs taken from a helicopter and then Dan starts cutting down around the four outhouse and one well pits that we are excavating further.

And in other news, I learned a lesson about misplacing important pieces of paper. I about had a panic attack until I arrived home and found them on my desk. Note to self- don't do this again.

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