Two weeks of digging have recovered several thousand artifacts ranging from food remains to bottles to beads, and we have uncovered several yard features that include a well. While a thorough analysis will not begin until the Fall, we can venture some modest insights and display the sorts of things we have uncovered so far.
Click on any thumbnail picture for a larger image.
|People certainly lived in Indiana long before colonization, and this projectile point gives us a glimpse of this prehistoric heritage. This point was recovered in a deposit that appears to date to around World War I; the point likely was in fill soil the residents moved around under the structure during recurrent maintenance.|
Backyards were busy places: the 800 Camp Street lot, for example, changed regularly, including a wide range of outbuildings, and like most spaces in the near-Westside it included features like wells, cisterns, and outhouses before the neighborhoods secured city sewer and water services. In many cases, such services did not arrive in the Westside until World War II, so yards often include privies, cisterns, and similar features. Municipal trash collection was somewhat spotty as well, so refuse was discarded in a range of places that included local waterways and backyards. Many backyard features and structural foundations became repositories for household refuse when they were finally sealed or dismantled. We're keen to find these kinds of things--what archaeologists sometimes called "primary refuse" contexts--because they contain larger and less fragmented objects and are often quite tightly dated. We are fortunate to have a couple of relatively undisturbed contexts like this.
|This photograph (left) taken May 18 shows a 9" square tiled surface to the bottom of the picture (south) and a laid brick surface to the top (north) as both were being removed. The metal pipe sticking out near the center was a mystery, as was the drain pipe directly beneath the tile in the lower left. The tile surface, which extends east and west at least 10 feet, had a 1947 penny directly under one of the tiles, suggesting their relatively recent placement or maintenance. The photograph below shows what the same square looked like on May 26.|
Roughly 22" below ground level, this 33" diameter circle of bricks (left) was uncovered. The pipe sticking out of the feature was likely used to draw water from the well. This feature probably had the tile, brick, and concrete overlaying it to minimize muddiness.
|This glass chandelier fragment was one of the first artifacts recovered from the feature.|
|More artifacts have been recovered from within the foundations of the structure than anywhere else on site (the approximate location of this unit is shown in the 1887 map to the right). To the left, Jennifer Dillon is excavating near one of a series of stone and brick piers that likely supported the structure. The dark soil and numerous large objects in many layers of soil suggests that folks discarded some goods into the space when the building was dismantled; routine maintenance over a century periodically left layers of construction debris and household discards in the space.|
|The structure's foundation includes more large artifact fragments than the units placed in yard space. This undecorated ceramic bowl is typical of the discards that made their way into this space; in contrast, most artifacts in the yard are smaller, since folks wouldn't tolerate large debris fragments in the yard.||This patent medicine bottle of "Hicks' Capudine for Headaches" was one of many miracle cures produced in the early twentieth century. A small number of patent medicine vessels have been recovered from 800 Camp Street so far; this probably reflects their decline in sales following stiff new federal regulation in the early twentieth century, and it probably also indicates that the folks who discarded this assemblage weren't particularly devoted to over-the-counter medications.|
badly worn coin (left) came from a yard context that included items dated
from 1890 to 1929. The coin bears the faint traces of the words
"Cracker Jack" across its face. Cracker
Jack Collectors Association webmaster Jeffrey Maxwell and President
Gail Sullivan tell us these were part of the Silverine President Coins
series. The aluminum coins were placed in boxes of Cracker Jack and
Checkers Popcorn from 1933 to 1936 to support the Cracker Jack Mystery
Club, the largest marketing campaign the company ever conducted. The
set included every US President up to that time, and a child would amass
ten (later five) of the coins to be sent into the company and made a
member of the Mystery Club. A total of 32 million such coins were
made, with nearly a quarter million children becoming members.
Our coin has the barely visible letters "EVELAND" around one rim, so we recovered the Grover Cleveland coin. Jeffrey graciously provided us photos (right) of an undamaged coin face (top right) and four coins (bottom right) that include (clockwise from upper right) James K. Polk, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, and John Quincy Adams. For more on Cracker Jack collectibles, consult Jeffrey's page by clicking on the Cracker Jack wrapper to the right, or visit Jim Davis' thorough The Cracker Jack Box site. You can read the university's press release on the coin by clicking here.
|This molded animal once graced the top of a small glass dish.||This Indian head cent dated 1890 came from the same relatively shallow backyard context as the Cracker Jack coin.||These small beads are among the quite tiny objects recovered across the site.|
|This metal-backed button with a synthetic cover came from a soil deposit that apparently dates to around the 1930s, but because it was from yard deposits the context is not very tightly dated. The face of the button, which is now detached (near right) reads "WAR," though the design is not particularly legible. The face was found against a metal back (back and face shown together middle right). The reverse is quite deteriorated, so the original pinning type is unclear and any original markings are no longer legible (far right). Do you know what this is? Email us and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org|
Dr. Mullins at email@example.com