Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Tuesday: 16 March 2010

Playing Detective  -  @ 07:40:38
I was looking through some artifacts that I've found over the last 20 years, and ran across this moroline bottle. It's an eight-sided bottle that a quick search discovered is a frequent find. Moroline was yet more petroleum jelly, a competitor of vaseline.

The bottle is considerably taller and a bit wider than the previous one. I bring it up here because it provides the most exact date of occupancy of this property that I know of.

The bottom of the jar sports the typical Owens Machine label I referred to earlier. It's a sort of a pre Y2K thing.

The Owens-Illinois Glass Co began marking their bottles to date them, but used only one digit, the right-most one, during the decade of the 1930s. (They also added the stippling that helped prevent sliding of the jar, and simultaneously obscures the labels.) Then, in 1940, they realized that one digit was no longer going to define the year properly, so they put a period after the rightmost number to indicate bottles made in the 1940s decade. (Eventually they went to two digits, postponing the dilemma until (along with everyone else) the year 2000).

The 3. shows this was made in 1943. The leftmost 7 identifies the glass plant that made the bottle, in this case the plant in Alton, Illinois.

Mark asked in comments if we knew of any previous house site on the property. I haven't written about it explicitly before, except as a side comment now and then, but the short answer is, yes, there seems to have been, and I suppose it was here at least in the early 1940s.

The area we find the most artifacts in is indicated by the red rectangle in this portion of the property map, to the southeast of the house. The arrow will show the direction of the next photograph, and the letterings refer to landmarks within that photograph.

This photograph is in the direction of the arrow, roughly southwest, and looking toward the steep bank that leads down to SBS Creek in the Troll Rock area. Here we find the largest concentration of daffodils, planted in three or four patches (D). The lettering on the sides and bottom refer to landmarks out of sight but in that general direction: S = kat sematary, W = well, and H = our house.

The numbers 1-3 refer to pieces of metal that I've placed as the first three thumbnails below. 1 and 2 are flat pieces, and I find a fair amount of this in various sizes. It's thin sheet metal, and it lies flat on the ground, covered over with a thin layer of soil and litter. Some of it is apparently quite large - number 1 is a non-rightangled corner of a much larger piece. Number 2 is a foot-square piece that I pulled up. Number 3 is a long piece of trim, or something like that, that still lies mostly atop the ground. And Number 4 is a pile of brick that I've made, of pieces that I occasionally find. The bricks are solid, btw.

I haven't indicated all the locations of the large flat metal pieces, and I haven't disturbed them. I discovered them first in the early 90s with a ponderous ancient metal detector, and the only other disturbance I've made was in the area of the daffodils, where I found a number of common artifacts. I suspect that one of the reasons this area remains generally clear of trees is due to the ground being covered by these sheets of metal.

Here is a panorama view of the same area, taken from the south side looking north to our house, which you can just make out (H).

I suppose this doesn't have to be an old house site. It might have just been a general dump. However the presence and concentration of daffodils certainly seem to reflect deliberate plantings, and there is a well (it could be a midden, but that would still argue for a nearby house site).

And there are also little pieces of glazed pottery and other homey touches that also argue for a house site. One odd little thing is that the destruction seems to have been rather thorough.

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