Elem Historic Feature 1

Feature 1 material recovered

Feature 1 Ceramics
Feature 1 Chinese rice bowl
Feature 1 Prosser button

Mine waste excavation beneath the western road encountered historical artifacts at the intersection of Pomo Street and the road that leads to the cul-de-sac.  The feature consisted of black soil covering an area ~3 meters in diameter.  The feature area was flagged and its boundary spray-painted to keep construction workers and equipment out.

Feature 1 location

The mine waste had been removed and it was anticipated that the feature would be protected and preserved by the placement of clean fill and road construction.  With the understanding that the feature would be protected, only two small soil samples were recovered and processed.  One 5-gal bucket sample was recovered and processed through ¼” mesh.  In addition a 2,000cc sample was recovered and screened through 1/8” mesh.  No attempt was made to determine the depth of the deposit.

A graph of all material recovered from the 5-gallon sample (top graph) indicates that “EuroAmerican other” (metal, leather, building material, etc.) made up most of the sample by weight.  This was followed by Euro American glass, Euro American ceramics, stone tool manufacturing debitage, organic material, Asian ceramics, buttons, and bone.

The 2,000cc sample processed through the 1/8” screen had a slightly different breakdown with Euro American glass having the highest weight.


Glass items included three olive green fragments of wine bottles, three brown glass fragments of beer bottles and one unidentifiable bottle fragment.

Feature 1 glass

Euro American Ceramics

Ceramics included fragments of three cups, one wash basin, and two unknown items.   

Asian Ceramics

One piece of a Bamboo ware rice bowl was recovered

Other Materials

A single “prosser” button was recovered.  It was a plain, 4-hole, sew-through type with a 16-line size.  In addition to manufactured items, a small amount of organic material was recovered.  These included some unidentifiable shell, mammal bone, charcoal, and black walnuts.  The amount of these materials was too small to allow any meaningful analysis.

Feature 1 Interpretation

Even if we didn’t have a 1906 photo showing the Elem Village, it would be possible to give an estimate of the age of Feature 1 based on the age of the artifacts recovered. Glass recovered from Feature 1 included only hand- blown bottles, indicating manufacture before 1917.  The Asian bamboo ware rice bowl fragment is a style that was only in use in California between 1850 and 1920.  This piece suggests that some members of the household were of Asian descent.

All Euro American ceramics were plain white glazed pieces of either stoneware or cream ware (popular during the mid to late 1800’s).   The type of material recovered suggests that Feature 1 was a deposit of general household trash dating just before or just after 1900.  The clearly defined size and dark stain to the soil, coupled with the fact that there was depth to the deposit suggest that this was a filled trash-pit feature rather than a sheet (surface only) trash deposit.