Northeast Historical Archaeology


Dennis Piechota


This article describes a method of retrieving a large intact soil block from the midden area of the Sylvester Manor site. The soil was micro-stratigraphically excavated within a laboratory setting and analyzed using new approaches to the direct observation of micro-artifact distributions and trace residues on soil surfaces. Low technology analytical methods were selected from fields unrelated to archaeology but readily accessible to workers in a standard archaeological processing laboratory. Preliminary findings are presented in the hope that new low-cost field and laboratory methods can be developed. For example particle mapping of micro-artifacts by direct observation of soil profiles is explored as a possible method of determining the relative dates of bioturbated deposits. A method of visualizing degraded proteins on soil surfaces by ultraviolet fluorescence tagging is presented as a way of collecting soft tissue residues. Lastly, the use of density beads with an aqueous heavy liquid is shown as a promising method for the collection of heavy minerals from soil samples.