Day 17: Burning down the house?

Back on Day 7 our guest bloggers, Jocelyn and Amanda, talked about the L-shaped corner of a building they were uncovering in Unit 4.  It extended at a right angle into the corner of their unit for about a two feet in width and about three in length, and disappeared into the east and south walls. Just a glimpse of something, but not quite enough to make sense of it. A thin smear of black silt seemed to float just above the wall. What was that black silt? Were we in the interior or exterior of the building?  Was it a large or small building?  To help answer the questions we had of the first substantial structure we have encountered, we subsequently opened up another five-foot unit diagonal to Unit 4.

Sam picking the charcoal and burnt nails from the floor of Unit 5

At the beginning of last week Katie Chen and Sam Schwartz started unexpectedly to encounter  rubble at the base of that unit.  Then suddenly, the rubble along the edge seemed to resolve into another set of wall remains, albeit roughly scattered.  At about this point the soil turned a deep black with orange streaks and charcoal fragments.  This layer of burnt material is evidence for either a burned structure or a smokehouse.  At the base of this layer  they found a thin layer of white soil with a crumbly texture and traces of small bits of animal hair: wall plaster and horsehair. Below this they found the impressions of boards pressed into the solid clay floor (picture below)

It seems unlikely that a smokehouse would be plastered. We also found evidence of electricity hooked up to this building. But what was the nature of its use?  We will have to examine the few artifacts we found in association with this building to determine its function.

We will reach the bottom of our seventh test unit (5’x5′ hole) tomorrow. We hope to finish a minimum of three more in the last two weeks of the project.  The pressure is still on to find substantial evidence of what the buildings looked like on Canal Street.  Unit 5 gave us a small part of the puzzle.

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About LM Project

The LMP is a collaborative endeavor which aims to recognize the events surrounding the Lattimer Massacre, an incident that changed the labor movement and impacted the world by bringing to light economic disparities and ethnic tensions in the anthracite region of PA.
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