Archaeological Dig: Week 3

This week went slightly better than last. There were only a few unbearably hot days (despite the 6 day work week) and the physical demands are getting a little easier, although my body is rebelling in new and interesting ways. I think I have arthritis, that is the only explanation for how painful my hands and knees are right now.

Here is some information about the site and its history. Feel free to skip ahead to the pics, if you so desire. :-)

Fort Yamhill was built in 1856 and remained an active duty post until 1866. The Fort's main purpose was to oversee Native Americans living within the reservation area. This fort was not involved in the American Civil War due to Oregon declaring neutrality. The Army forces stationed at this fort were sent East upon the beginning of the war and it was staffed by volunteers from California thereafter. The full garrison stationed at Fort Yamhill consisted of 76 men under three officers and were commanded by William Babcock Hazen and at times by Philip Sheridan.

There were a number of buildings on the site including: a blockhouse, sentry box, barracks, officer's quarters (which we are excavating), carpenter's shop, hospital, kitchen, blacksmith shop, stables, and laundress quarters. Many of these have already been excavated and we are lucky enough to have the original fort plans so figuring out where to dig has been relatively easy. What was difficult for the archaeologists to determine was where the "first" building was. After that, it was relatively easy tracking down the rest.

There were three officers and therefore there should only be three officer's houses, however along "Officer's Row" the plans show 5 houses. Our goal this dig season is to find out what the other two houses were used for. At this point we haven't found anything to substantiate that women lived there, but it is our assertion that perhaps these were the quarters of wives/children/assistants/cooks of the officers. Time will tell...

The "pit" I worked on this week. It is fully excavated now, but I didn't get a photo. The major artifact finds include: nails, glass shards, lead shot and ceramic sherds.

One of our volunteers found this complete bottle underneath the foundation towards the back of the house.
It is a champagne bottle and all three houses that have been excavated up to this point have had a champagne bottle. One bottle is interesting, two bottles eliminates coincidence, three bottles is a pattern! But what is it?


The coolest find so far, an 1836 coin with a hole in it. We speculate since it pre-dates the time of the fort that it was worn as jewelry. Again, I didn't find this but I am waiting patiently for my major discovery!

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