GARS update: Archaeology Month 2010 and Fort Daniel activities

Submitted by James J. D'Angelo (4drdee@bellsouth.net)

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Figure 1. Fort Daniel clay being hand molded by John Hopkins the old fashioned way.

The Gwinnett Archaeological Research Society—GARS—teamed with the Fort Daniel Foundation to again combine their public archaeology event with FDF’s 2nd annual Frontier Faire at the Fort Daniel site in Gwinnett County, May 22-23. A highlight of the weekend was a brick making project employing methods and technology that would have been used in the late 18th–early 19th centuries. The clay was mined at the property where Fort Daniel is located. The project actually took more than two months, with molding of 95 “Fort Daniel 1813” brick (Figures 1, 2), air drying, construction of the Clamp kiln, and firing the kiln during the event. Cherokee Brick & Tile Co., Macon, donated 450 “Archaeobrick” for most of the kiln’s construction (Figure 3), and “burned” 50 of the best Fort Daniel brick in their modern tunnel kiln. The remaining “green” Fort Daniel brick were put in the Fort Daniel clamp kiln. Because burning would normally take 1–2 weeks in this type of kiln, the burning was only a demonstration and brick made by children at the event were taken home to be dried as “green” brick (Figure 4).

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Figure 2. One of 95 “green” brick being sun dried before firing. Note: branded brick like this were actually not common in the USA until the late 19th–early 20th century when large commercial brick companies were in operation and wanted to advertise on the brick itself.

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Figure 3. Final touches on small clamp kiln being mud-plastered by Frank Perry.

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Figure 4. Putting a final “press” for good measure on a hand-molded brick at the Archaeology Month event.

The archaeology portion of the event, which was supervised by Georgia archaeologists Siska Willams and TRC’s Price and Emily Laird, entailed more tracing the fort’s palisade wall trenches. The south end of the west wall trench was located. With this and the previously excavated west end of the south wall, it was clear that the first floor of the previously identified southwest corner Blockhouse was no less than 10′ x 10′, but may have been more like 12′ x 12′, since it would have extended beyond the palisade. The cantilevered second floor would have extended out even more. It was also determined that the previously identified hearth feature within the blockhouse, most likely a stone-lined fire pit, was situated in the center of that room (Figure 5).

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Figure 5. View north showing hearth feature in center of corner blockhouse location with south end of west wall coming in at top center of photo, and west end of south wall coming in at lower right of photo. White line indicates how two 10’ blockhouse interior walls would have been situated.

On August 14th, GARS members located the east end of the south wall trench and its corner with the south end of the east wall (Figure 6). The length of the south wall trench is thus 62′ and the wall, including the blockhouse would be 72′ plus a probable 2-foot projection in that corner. It was now clear that the previously identified “latrine” ditch is actually the northern-most 14′ of the east wall, and that there was probably a gate south of this segment as suggested by the gap in the trench line.

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Figure 6. View SE of exposed SE corner of palisade wall trench at bottom of plow zone. Edges of the feature are much clearer in real life!

On August 23rd, the northwest corner, where the west wall and north wall trenches meet, was located. Given the known lengths of south, west and east wall segments there is now convincing evidence that there was also a blockhouse in the northwest corner (Figure 7).

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Figure 7. Sketch of known segments (dark lines) of the palisade wall trenches superimposed on a portion of the 2007 metal detection survey gradient map. Grid is oriented according to property boundaries, while fort is on a north-south axis.