There was a lot of energy in the air at the dig site today due to several factors. We’ve had a lot of interested visitors who generally seem to share our enthusiasm for the project, and this fact seems to inspire everyone to work a little harder. Also, we’re getting down to the last few days of the dig, and many of us are working through a mental checklist of features we’d like to see, measure, and explore. Finally, the College of Charleston  student archaeologists are finding some really great artifacts in the earth, and everyone is very excited and looking forward to each new shovel full of dirt. Let me give a couple of examples.

I mentioned yesterday that the students had uncovered two wooden piles in the deep pluff mud, at a distance of five feet from the south side of the redan. Further digging in that wet, messy unit revealed three more piles (so far!), altogether forming a straight line parallel to the redan. The photo below left shows the piles (bottom right) in relation to the redan (top left). The photo in the center below shows the piles in a bit more detail (note the clouds reflected in the water), and the photo below right is a close up of one of the piles. From surviving legislative records we know that piles were placed on the outside of the waterfront fortifications more than 300 years ago to protect the brickwork from the storm tides and shipping accidents, but archaeologist Eric Poplin of Brockington and Associates, visiting the site today, suggested that boards placed against these piles may have also been used to create a coffer dam to facilitate the construction of the brickwork in the late 1690s and early 1700s. Stay tuned—we’ll certainly learn more about these piles in the next two days of deep digging!

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(click on the images above to enlarge)

While I was discussing these possibilities with Dr. Poplin, a student announced that he had found a medium-sized mass of corroded iron in the pluff mud just a few inches from the point of the redan. It was encased in a thick layer dark pluff mud, so we walked out to the tent where other students were rinsing buckets of mud through the screens (see below left). The mass of iron got a good rinsing (see below center) and Eric held it for me to photograph (below right).

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(click on the images above to enlarge)

possible_pistol_barrel_3Hmm . . . it’s iron, it’s long and skinny, and it has a few odd bumps and articulations (besides the encrusted organic material). To top it off, the artifact is definitely a partially-flattened tube. Perhaps it’s the barrel of an old pistol. If so, it may have been discarded into the mud in front of the redan 300 years ago. Only after the piece has undergone some conservation treatment and further study at the Charleston Museum will we know for sure, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with one final shot (pardon the pun) of the business end of the potential pistol barrel.

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