Dr. Lee carefully digs around cane mat artifact

Dr. Lee carefully digs around cane mat artifact

I was happily surprised upon arrival at the old bridge archaeological site. Archaeologist Aubrey “Butch” Lee was using a trowel to carefully extract a large piece of cane matting from the blue clay that surrounded it.  The mound was built with alternating layers of clay and cane. He also displayed a peg, and discussed charred posts that were used in the construction of the great mound. Lee repeatedly referred to the Winslow Walker excavation and report.

 

Chief Lonnie L. Martin of the Chitimacha Tribe worked on site and monitored for human remains. Chief Martin said that there was no evidence of human remains thus far. He recounted a story of repatriation when an oil and gas line was drilled in Southwest Louisiana.

 

 

Butch Lee explained that the soil was transported here for bridge fill, and that since none of the original stratigraphy was left intact their process differed from a standard archaeology grid.  The team used a track-hoe to carefully pull down the soil, layer by layer in 1 or 2 10 cm increments. When we visited they were on pass number nine.

 

The mounds and nearby middens date to the 600s and 700s CE.  Butch explained that much research potential remains, despite the sites being disturbed over the years, overturning earlier notions that little would be gained from excavation or preservation of the mounds. He then told our delegation  that the Archaeological Conservancy purchased land around one mound, and that the remaining dirt from the 1930s era bridge fill (which came from the Great Mound) would be transported to a nearby School Board property to build a  scale replica of the Great Mound.

 

Leaving the site, our class drove around the town to find a few embankments and at least two markers designating the complex.  I realized that the early town was built almost directly on top of the mound complex. I contrast the decimation of the Troyville Great Mound during the First New Deal period with the preservation of Moundville in Alabama during the late 1930s and construction of a museum with CCC labor. Overall, this was a great visit. I am happy to know that Jonesville may finally be able to leverage these important cultural resources for tourism.

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