Heinlenville was one of six San José Chinatowns. Archaeologists from the Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University and local San José historians are working with the Redevelopment Agency, City of San José to unearth selected areas of Heinlenville and early Japantown. The test excavation took place from the 11th to 17th March 2008, and data recovery excavation was conducted from the 14th to 23rd of April 2009. Work continues now back at the ASC lab, as we process artifacts and soil samples recovered from the site.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh man was it hot today!

It is only my second day on the site, but I am already worn out from the heat. Besides the weather, though, today was a great day at Heinlenville. This morning I was screening for a feature where we found a whole cup. It was white with blue characters, and it had a makers mark on the bottom that says it was made in Japan. Though we at first thought it was a tea cup, Julia identified it as a noodle bowl.

Screening through the soil was extremely difficult. It was thick, dark clay that would not easily sift through the mesh screens. I recovered everything from animal bones, glass bottle fragments, rusted nails, and ceramic sherds, but only after fighting a losing battle with the lumpy, unforgiving soil.

Yesterday we opened up an area across the road. Today, I got a chance to explore the refuse dump found there. There are some great pot fragments that look to have been from large storage containers. The deposit also looks to have a great deal of bone, metal, and ceramics. At the very end of the day, Sandra identified odd soil changes happening in one of the corners. I am excited to work on that area more tomorrow and possibly learn the sequencing of the deposits. It might sound silly, but it is kind of like trying to determine, which came first, the chicken or the egg. We need to see if we can determine which color deposit came first and which deposit is on top of the other.

By far, the highlight of the day was a visit from the project’s biggest fan, a boy named Zach. Zach and his mom have come by everyday after school to check out our progress and see what we have found! He is excited to learn about archaeology and to see what we have uncovered. It reminds me why I became an archaeologist in the first place and gives me motivation to withstand the heat, push through the clay, and to recover the treasures hidden below the parking lot. Zach’s visits are also awesome because he brings us snacks! He clearly knows that the way to an archaeologist’s heart is through his/her stomach. Thank you Zach!

Emily Darko
Graduate Student