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Wyoming History

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Lincoln Highway

Part five of seven parts

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 6

Part 7

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Methodology
 
Recordation and Collection Procedures

At the outset a grid system, using a fixed datum point was established at a highly visible point near the edge of the sites. This point was arbitrarily assigned the horizontal designation of 0 North/0 East and a vertical designation of 0 meters. All horizontal proveniences were expressed as meters south and east from the datum, with excavation units labeled by their southwest corners. Vertical proveniences were expressed metrically in relation to the arbitrary 0 meter point, whether they are above or below that point. By establishing the horizontal and vertical datum in this way, all proveniences were expressed in whole numbers from one quadrate of the grid and thus eliminate potential errors in recording relationships to the datum.

The basic excavation unit is 1 x 1 meter square, with collection units being 1 x 1 meter quadrates. Vertical control in excavation was imposed by natural stratigraphy. The natural strate were clearly defined. Excavation of each unit was accomplished with the use of trowels, and excavated matrix was sieved through double screens. These screens were stacked and are 1/8 to 1/16 inch mesh respectively.

To facilitate the visualization of the relationships of features and in situ cultural remains, an occupation surfaces were exposed . The exposed surface was photographed and a plan map drawn. Mapping was accomplished in several ways including using portable 1 x 1 meter grid frames which are subdivided by string into 10 x 10 centimeter grids. Further details of the mapping process were be given below. By moving the frames over the entire occupation surface, plan maps were produced rapidly, accurately, and efficiently. In addition, the frames were used in conjunction with photographs, taken in 1 meter increments, to produce a composite photograph of the entire occupation surface, if necessary. By exposing and documenting occupation surfaces over large areas in excavations, a visually explicit representation of the distribution of cultural remains is produced. Each level was hand drawn and extensive profile maps created.

The position of large materials can provide clues about natural and cultural processes that may have affected the sites. Different processes can orient materials randomly or orient the materials into identifiable patterns. In order to quantify patterning of the cultural and natural remains, altitude and inclination information were collected on all items that were 5 centimeters or larger in at least one dimension to determine changes in landscape over time. Items that are angular to sub-angular and generally tabular in shape were recorded. Those non-cultural items that are rounded were not be recorded. When fire-cracked cobbles are encountered they were mapped to the nearest centimeter on the grid map. Maps indicating the altitude and inclination of each class of mapped item were compiled.

Artifacts

All cultural material recovered from each 1 x 1 unit were bagged separately to avoid mistakes and mix-ups in the field. Each bag was labeled with an artifacts individual provenience (if known). This was especially mportant when activity areas and the function of such areas were investigated. Collected materials were segregated as to stratigraphic unit and/or occupation surface. All recovered material was identified with field specimen or ancillary specimen numbers. Care was taken to record artifacts in an in situ circumstance, when possible. The in situ specimens have exact horizontal and vertical location recorded individually, and their relationship to other material noted. For artifacts recovered from the screen, artifacts were bagged by level. Tools, ground stone, and debitage were sorted and bagged separately. Each in situ artifact, each tool, and each bag of debitage were assigned a field specimen number and recorded on the Archaeological Field Specimen Record. An excavation record was completed for each level of each 1 x 1 m unit. In addition, each specimen bag (whether for field specimens or ancillary study specimens) were labeled according to standardized locational data. Culturally modified rock other than chipped stone artifacts and ground stone, i.e., thermally altered rock, were exposed, mapped, and photographed in situ. The thermally altered rock were quantified and weighed per each quadrant of the excavation unit or per feature.

 
Ancillary Study Samples

A number of special samples were collected systematically from the excavations, as well as from all cultural features, in order to expand the database from which to derive interpretations of subsistence and environment. Each of these samples were assigned individual ancillary numbers and recorded on the Ancillary

 
Study Specimen Record (See Appendix A)
 
Faunal Remains

Faunal materials were collected from each unit. The bagging and sorting methods and locational data recordation were the same as described above for lithic artifacts. Again, there was an attempt to record faunal remains in situ. This in situ recording was done in an attempt to discern butchering areas and butchering units, and to determine whether intensive reduction of certain parts of the animal is indicated; e.g., for bone grease production.

Macrofloral Remains

The recovery of macrofloral material (e.g., seeds, twigs, charcoal, etc.) were accomplished primarily through flotation of the matrix from features and structure fill. A minimum of two liters of fill were collected from features (hearths, pits) for flotation purposes. The size of the flotation sample were determined by the size of the feature from which it is taken.

 
Microfloral Remains

Pollen samples were collected in order to document the presence of various microfloral species to aid in paleoenvironmental reconstruction and to help in the identification of subsistence practices and activity areas. A series of samples (minimum of 100 milliliters in volume), segregated by stratigraphic level, were extracted from columns in the excavations. These pollen samples were located adjacent to the sediment samples and extracted in units equivalent to the sediment samples (i.e., paired samples). Pollen samples were also be collected from cultural features to help determine which plants may have been used at the sites. Modern pollen rain were sampled from the present ground surface as a comparative control to the prehistoric pollen record.

 
Sediment Samples

Sediment samples were collected from the excavation s, utilizing both natural and cultural levels as necessary, to aid in stratigraphic correlation and interpretation. Approximately 100 milliliters were collected per sample; each stratum were sampled vertically in increments no greater than 5 centimeters. Ultimately, these samples were used to interpret depositional history and paleoenvironmental conditions. As mentioned above, pollen samples were taken adjacent to and consistent with the sediment samples to maintain correlation between the two types of samples. In doing so, both sets of data may be integrated reliably to produce a fine-grained reconstruction of the paleoenvironmental history of the sites locale.

 
Fine Screen Samples

The site was sampled for the smaller range of cultural remains through the use of 1/8 inch mesh for screening. If practical, all excavated sediment were screened through 1/8 inch, or smaller, mesh. This approach is especially appropriate to the fill from house features. Other types of hearth and pit features were sampled because all feature fill not collected for other samples were fine-screened using 1/16 inch mesh.

 
Charcoal Samples

Charcoal samples were taken whenever possible, primarily from firepits or other discrete loci, for radiometric dating. These samples were initially be handled with tweezers or clean trowels, then placed in a folded envelope of aluminum foil, sealed, and placed in a paper sack. The paper sack were contain the proper locational data.

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If you have any questions please feel free to contact Dudley Gardner.

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