Monday, July 23, 2007

July 16-20: WEEK 2 Artifact of the Week


Not the prettiest thing we've found, but one of the most interesting.

Slag is the byproduct of metalworking: smelting, smithing, casting, and the like. This slag probably derives from impurities in iron-based metal that was heated by a coal-fueled fire. Samples may be sent for chemical analysis in the future, in order to determine exactly what it is made of.

Students discussed their slag finds at the end of class today. Hundreds of fragments of the stuff were recovered from topsoil layers in AH5, a unit in the side yard far away from the house. Our new unit in the far back yard, AH10, is also turning up many slag fragments. Only a few pieces were found in AH4, AH1, and AH2; the frequency drops off as you approach the house. No slag was recovered from the unit near the front door, AH3.

Those familiar with the Akin House site have long believed that an unknown early 20th-century occupant practiced metalworking, perhaps to repair boars, cars, and households items. The slag we have excavated suggests that someone was working metal in the not too distant past. There was a large barn near unit AH5 until at least 1922. Perhaps a small bloomery or portable forge was used there.