10 June 2009
I hardly know where to begin it has been such an eventful few days since the last post. But suffice it to say we’re relishing the fact that the labor devoted to reaching the most informative deposits is paying off.
A new focal point of the excavation is a large dome of gray ash, starkly visible against the dark brown remains of the burned building. It began to show itself over a week ago as just a small dappled patch of soil. Over the course of this week one of our team members, James Stewart, has devoted himself to revealing its full extent, now well over a meter in diameter.
Remarkable enough in its size and state of preservation, the ash deposit is a feature that merits great respect for other reasons. In the eyes of the Native people who built and used the large structure (we now refer to it as “casa grande”), the site of the ash was nothing short of the symbolic center of their universe, the place of a council fire around which all matters of important business were discussed and consummated. If the likes of Hernando de Soto paid a visit to this Indian community he and his army surely would have been the subject of official deliberations around the fire and, who knows, maybe he even enjoyed an audience there with the Indian leadership.
And almost right on cue today, in front of a crowd of distinguished visitors, the site produced yet another metal artifact. The object excavated by Andrew Vaughan is a small piece of sheet copper or brass, the surface of which bears traces of intentional work, perhaps decoration. Now, we cannot say whether the metal is of European or Native origin, but we intend to find out eventually with a series of tests that allow us to “fingerprint” the source. But in the meantime, the presence of the metal in the floor deposit of our large building serves to confirm the sense that it was a very special place. Metal of any sort, but especially copper or a copper alloy, would have been highly prized in the sixteenth-century Native world and, moreover, highly controlled by the Indian leadership.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring.