“Spring Break Dig” on Block 6 in Historic Washington, Arkansas

As part of Arkansas Archeology Month—and in preparation for this summer’s AAS dig in June—the Kadohadacho Chapter of the Arkansas Archeological Society returned to Historic Washington for this year’s “Spring Break Dig”.  Between March 21-26 we excavated 5 test units into Block 6—the town’s early commercial district.

Ground pentrating radar (GPR) imagary from Block 6 showing the "large sqaure anomaly"

The Monday & Tuesday before the “Spring Break Dig,” Dr. Jami Lockhart, Duncan McKinnon, and Mike Evans conducted a remote sensing survey of the block with some great results. We used several different geophysical technologies including magnetometry(showing metal and burned areas that effect the magnetic fields), ground penetrating radar (GPR), resistance (putting electric current through the ground) and several others.  Besides confirming that a portion of the 1830s store fronts facing Franklin Street (the old Southwest Trail) were intact, Lockhart & Co. unexpectedly found a large square anomaly that could be an imposing (20m x 20m) structure on the backside of the lot.  This square showed up in several of our technologies (including resistance and GPR).

Our March excavations concentrated on this mystery structure—what does it date to?  Is it commercial or domestic?  Is it a warehouse? A hotel? A swank home?  On a more practical level, we also wanted to make sure that there were enough midden, artifacts and features on Block 6 to keep the Arkansas Archeological Society members interested and happy during our June dig.

After a week of excavations we have some of the answers to these questions.  There is certainly plenty of midden, artifacts and features to keep folks happy.  Additionally, although we did not hit “hard foundations” for the shadowy structure on Block 6, we can say that it burned (probably in the 1870s-1880s fires) and that it was in existence sometime between the 1830s and the 1870s.  We did not recover large amounts of 20th century materials (with the exception of a large 1920s trash pit in one unit) and deposits seem fairly intact (except where the evil gophers and moles deposit 1976 watches next to Archaic-period stone tools).  Interestingly, although most historical documents point toward commercial activity on Block 6, the materials on the back two lots appear quite domestic (very similar to the middens at the home of Abraham Block which we worked in last spring and summer).  We hope to continue answering questions—and asking new ones—when we return to Block 6 this summer.

AAS member Bob Campbell supervising a TON of volunteers during the “Spring Break Dig” on Block 6.

AAS member Bob Campbell supervising a TON of volunteers during the “Spring Break Dig” on Block 6.

We are very grateful for the 53+ volunteers we had during the weeklong excavations, but a few deserve to be specially thanked for staying the entire week and/or supervising large numbers of volunteers.  Thanks to Anthony Clay Newton, Bob Campbell, Dr. Don Bragg, Lydia Rees, Lydia Saxton, Isaac Saxton and Addison Ochs for all their hard work.  Thanks to Historic Washington State Park for all of their support and to the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation for the permission to work on Block 6.

1830s-1850s ceramics recovered from Block 6 in Historic Washington during the Arkansas Archeology Month “Spring Break Dig.”

1830s-1850s ceramics recovered from Block 6 in Historic Washington during the Arkansas Archeology Month “Spring Break Dig.”

We will return to Block 6 with the state-wide Arkansas Archeological Society Summer Training Program June 10-25, 2011 and we hope to see some of you there!

You can see more pictures of the 2011 “Spring Break Dig” on Block 6 in Historic Washington at:


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  1. Preliminary Results of the 2011 AAS Summer Training Program at Historic Washington, Arkansas | farther along… - September 14, 2011

    […] Dr. Lockhart’s remote sensing survey in March, we had one very large and clear target for excavation—a 20 meter by 20 meter square anomaly that […]

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