Findings at Excavation Unit 4

For the first half of this field school, it seemed as though my excavation unit was the least captivating of the excavation units on the gravel knoll. Sure, my excavation partner and I had been finding interesting objects in our unit, and we were excited about what we were finding, but the objects we had been finding seemed insignificant in relation to the arrow heads those in other units had been finding. Although my excavation partner and I were disheartened, we knew it was only a matter of time before our unit became more interesting.


When my partner and I first noticed the dark gravel oval on our excavation unit floor, we were unsure what to make of it. We were told that it was a possible feature and that we needed to perform a cross section of it to be sure. A cross-section involves digging one half of a feature to see its soil profile in order to better understand the feature. We began our cross-section, and almost immediately found multiple pieces of animal bone. As we continued to dig down into our feature, we unearthed more animal bone, many pieces of charcoal, pieces of shell, and pottery sherds. It was not until completing the cross-section and chatting with the director of this field school, Dr. Goldstein, that we determined what this evidence meant.


The charcoal pieces we encountered in the feature lend to evidence for burning, and the pieces of animal bone and shell are evidence for subsistence. With these pieces of evidence together, we were able to conclude that our feature was a cooking pit used by the Native Americans who occupied the site. One of the goals behind digging at the gravel knoll was to determine whether or not the Native Americans who lived in Aztalan altered the gravel knoll. Our excavation unit has now become more important because of the evidence it contains, that the Native Americans who lived in Aztalan modified the gravel knoll.

Emily Horbatch