Urban Annapolis and Rural Wye House

As we ended our excavations in Annapolis and moved to the very different setting at Wye House, it has been interesting to reflect on the differences between the two units on which I have worked – particularly on their stratigraphy and the artifacts they produced – and what those differences say about the sites.

Stratigraphy of Unit 24.

Stratigraphy of Unit 24. Source: Kate Deeley

The stratigraphy in Unit 24 at 9 Cornhill was at first very simple. We removed the brick layer from the patio that covered the back yard, then a layer of sand that have been used to create a level bed in which the bricks could be laid, then a few layers of fill dirt and soil. After that, we had to deal with multiple overlapping layers of coal ash that only partially covered our unit. These coal ash layers were very thin and their edges were not always clearly defined, which made it difficult to determine where one level ended and another began. A quick examination of the site revealed that the levels of coal ash were concentrated in the area of the backyard closest to the back door of the house. We concluded that the ash was likely deposited when inhabitants of the house dumped or threw the ash from their stove, and was deposited gradually over time, unlike the clearer layers of sand and fill dirt which were deposited all at once. This would explain why the coal ash layers less clearly defined than the layers above them.

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