What is Pine Hawk? Pine Hawk is an archaeological site in Acton, MA.

During the late summer of 1999 the digging began. Since it was not possible to excavate the entire site area, the archaeologists focused their digging on three areas where many artifacts had been found in the earlier survey. Using surveying equipment they set up a coordinate grid system. Layout Grid

The grid system was made up of many 6.5-foot squares (2 x 2 m). To make the digging even more exact, the 6.5-foot squares were divided into 4 smaller squares. Those smaller squares were investigated by shoveling away soil in 5-centimeter levels. Five centimeters is about the size of your index finger! Can you imagine how long it took to look through all of that soil?

Digging on Site
Soil removed from these units were taken to screening stations on the edge of the site and sifted through mesh screens. They did not want to miss anything!

Layout GridWhile excavating, they collected many samples of soil and charcoal to analyze.The soil samples were collected to look for evidence of food like small pieces of burnt nutshells, seeds, or bone fragments.The charcoal samples were saved for use with radiocarbon dating to find out when the Pine Hawk site was used by Native Americans.


Recording Data
Archaeologists call the fire pits, hearths, and trash pits made on the site by the Native Americans
 features. Features cannot be moved from place to place. Archaeologists believe it is important to carefully record the features they found because they were unable to take them back to a laboratory for more study.

The features found on the Pine Hawk site gave clues about where activities such as cooking, food processing (smoking, drying), and stone tool making took place with in the site. 

Can you guess how many features were found at Pine Hawk? 97!

All 97 features were carefully recorded on scaled drawings and maps of the site.

These archaeologists are drawing a burnt rock concentration that was one of the largest features found on the site.

Fire pits or hearths containing a lot of charcoal and burnt rock were a common find. Radiocarbon dating of the charcoal found in the fire pits tells us that many of them were used about 4000 years ago.

This burnt rock feature was probably made about 3500 years ago. It covered an area of 5 feet wide by 8 feet long and was made up of hundreds of shattered stones. Scientists think maybe this feature was used for food processing activities like smoking or drying
fish, and roasting plant food.

The archaeologists took pictures of it too. To keep the photos organized, the archaeologists labeled each one carefully. This way there were no mistakes.
Recording Data