The Great Carson Experience, Part IV, 2012

The Official Tulane Field Vehicle

Hey Everyone!  Well,  I’m back in New Orleans after a wonderful and productive field season,  and now I’m ready to get to all of the lab work and computer stuff.  First of all,  I really need to take a minute to thank everyone who’s helped to make this a productive season.  I had three great Tulane students with me, Michael, Jordan, and Jon, and Meg Kassabaum from UNC came and lent a hand for a while.  Meredith Funeral home lent us their backhoe, the Archaeological Conservancy helped immensely with site logistics, Ole Miss lent me students and equipment as needed, and John Connaway from MDAH was super helpful in guiding me through my first excavation of a burned daub house.  And I owe much gratitude to Rachel Stout-Evans of the NRCS for all of her hard work this year – we’re at 60 cores total!  I also got some help from Quapaw Canoe company (thanks CH, aka RGIII) and the farm hands who keep the farm where Carson is located running.  Clarksdale was super great to me this summer and deserves special recognition, especially the folks over at Quapaw Canoe, Hambone Arts, Ground Zero, and Yazoo Pass for the friendship, advice, and good times.  I got to meet many great local musicians (there are so many!),  check out Watermelon Slim and of course the All Night Long Band,   –  So thank you Clarksdale, thank you Mississippi, and thanks to all the volunteers this year for helping me get through an amazing field season where we found a lot of great stuff and uncovered more than a few questions.  Now I have a truck bed full of artifacts to process.   And data to GIS.  And sediments to cross-section.  And, of course, a disseration to write.  I couldn’t do this alone,  and I’m fortunate to not have to.

Miss Haley Holt in a field of sunflowers next to Ground Zero, Morgan Freeman’s blues club.  Couldn’t do it without you dear! 

I had some great visitors this season and am always glad to have more – Pam, Patty, Dr. Knight, and John O’Hear are just a few who came to give advice and see the operations.

The Dark Knight Rises

John O’Hear demonstrating his camera techniques

The drive home back from the Delta was pretty enjoyable,  I stopped in Drew, Belzoni, and Indianola on the way home,  pretty cool towns with all kinds of history.  I also stopped at Mississippi College and met with the chief archivist there,  who showed me an old copy of the New Testament printed in Choctaw!

A translation of the New Testament into Choctaw from 1854, found at Mississippi College by Heather Wheeden, chief archivist



Summit Excavations

We pretty much stopped excavating the summit structure in the middle of the fourth and last week of excavations.  We made some efforts further delineate another corner of the structure but it looks like it still remains elusive.

test units 10 and 16, the top of the image is north. what you see here the consolidated wall fall and an excavated unit just above it where there is no wall fall. We have an edge to the structure here – we thought the the lower right hand part of the image was once a corner, but we found evidence for more house floor and wall fall outside of our excavation units using a bucket auger

My most important task for the last week was to photograph as much of the summit excavations as I could.  I really needed to get some elevation in order to capture my units, which spanned about 8 meters by 8 meters. I thought perhaps I could rig a balloon using techniques taught to me by the really cool folks over at Public Laboratory,  but I ended up going with a pole technique,  which I think Nathan Craig uses – thanks to Scott at the Gulf Restoration network for the tip.

Two branches, some stretchy cord, and a grippy camera stand make for some great aerial shots

Once I get all my shots stitched together, I’ll post again with the final result.  Until now all you get are a few shots.  The image below shows at TU 8 and 9, as well as some parts of TU 16 and 10.

South is to the bottom, Test Units 8 and 9, the fired and trampled house floor is in the middle of the image

Summit excavations

The morning sky as seen from under the trees and on top of the mound

Trench Excavations

So the image below shows off all the work we did this summer – we got three big trenches open, and 8 summit units that were either 1×2 or 2×2.  so man, we really moved a lot of dirt.

Image taken looking to the east. Trenches 1 (lower E-W excavation), 2 (N-S) , and 3 (upper E-W excavation) are shown here, as well as our summit test units. The historic cistern can be seen towards the top of the image in the background.


The north wall of trench 2, the remains of a post are showing in the upper left part of the profile – Stage 1 and 2 of the mound are shown here overlain by a thin band of laminated silts and some browner sediment, possibly historic alluvium or slope wash


Some laminated soils over stage 2 in Mound D

This is what the subsoil looks like under the buried A, a silty clay loam/silty clay, it coarsens downward into a very fine sandy loam which is levee building material, likely the top of the crevasse splay that forms to the local geology


Michael Krause, in an effort to find the only bit of remaining shade, decided to crawl under the tarps and cool off. At least 100 degrees that day if not more



Some banded sediments,


The scholar. Deep in thought, in a deep trench.


A view from the inside.  All those lovely nails have a purpose, I promise.

this is the north wall of Test Unit A in trench 3, the trench that is farther up the mound slope. We found fairly ubiquitous mound fill with little in the way of basket loading about 2 meters down from the surface. We were expecting to find the clay mound stage somewhere in the profile, and we only found it using a bucket auger about 60 cm below the deepest part of trench 3.


Jon Marshack, good luck on the oil rigs buddy!


And however others may feel about him,  I’m quite a fan of Jared Diamond, if not for his opinions, than for his skill at writing at a level that can be understood by everyone. Well, most everyone…




Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “The Great Carson Experience, Part IV, 2012

  1. oh man that trench looks comfortable! heat index of 105 down here. thanks for the shout!



  2. Chris Rodning



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s