Artifacts Lab 2015 - Passport in Time

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Uncovering Early Settlers in Southern Mississippi: Historic Artifacts Lab

De Soto National Forest, Mississippi, 2015
by Rob Reams, Forest Archaeologist
“I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.” - Anonymous

I want to thank you for taking the time for the Historic Artifact Analysis Lab Passport-in-Time project on the De Soto National Forest.  Hopefully, you learned how mind numbing artifact analysis can be.    
Not everybody understood what they doing at the beginning, but I think mostly everybody caught on towards the end of their time.  Now what did you accomplish?

First of all, where did the artifacts come from?  In the spring (2015), volunteers got to excavate at the John Fairley site.  The John Fairley site (22Pe2818) was the possible location of a dwelling or area of buildings associated with John Fairley.  John Fairley moved his family (wife, ten children, and three daughter-in-laws who were married to the older sons) from North Carolina to the new territory of Mississippi around 1818.  After metal detecting in October 2014 with volunteers, we settled on a hot spot in the woods for a future excavation project.

You examined 699 artifacts (three-quarters of the sample bags) from the possible John Fairley home.  These artifacts included 375 machine cut nails, 83 pieces of bottle glass, eight burnt peach pits, five glass buttons, three percussion caps, two tobacco pipe fragments, and 124 ceramic sherds (Hand painted, Transfer print, banded, sponge, and plain).  Most of these artifacts indicate a habitation from 1840-1910 with just a few dating to an earlier occupation between 1815 and 1840.  Speaking of an earlier occupation, there were 1,129 prehistoric artifacts also analyzed during the lab.  These artifacts were found throughout the John Fairley site, but especially along the edge of the spring-fed drainage.  The prehistoric artifacts included 989 pieces of lithic debitage, six hafted bifaces, 17 flake tools, one gorget made from a ceramic sherd, and 70 ceramic sherds.  The site was initially occupied between 3500 and 1100 years ago.  That’s quite a bit for one week of work under the insufficient light in the ‘laboratory’.  Sabrina and I will finish the remaining sample bags on rainy days, so I can enter all of the numbers into the database.  Then it’ll be up to me to find the time to write some big professional tome about the site and the results.  Or I could just retire and leave it for the next person.        
I really appreciate everything that was done. We couldn’t have had this project without you.  Thank you!
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