In the summer of 2000, excavations continued in search of the mission church. The area chosen to concentrate on was identified during the previous summer's excavations. Feature 15 in test unit 27 appeared to possibly be the remains of a post from a structure. There were also clay fragments, which are remains of a floor or wall, and a nail. This area was designated Structure 8 for identification purposes.
It was decided to open up a large area to map features that would help us to identify the possible structure. Three areas (Strips 1, 2, and 3) were stripped of the plow zone using a farm tractor and student and volunteer labor.
The plow zone was removed without screening, but any artifacts encountered were bagged by unit number. Below the base of the plow zone, the soil was shovel skimmed and troweled to reveal features for mapping.
The area that we concentrated most of our time on was Strip 1. Strip 1 was divided into fourteen 2 by 2 meter units. The strip contains alternating bands of dark and light soil. They may be either curving or straight, depending on your perspective. If they are curving, then this may be an aboriginal structure such as a council house. If straight, they may be a Spanish style structure such as a church.
In the area that has been opened up, the bands are approximately 2 meters wide and at least 5 meters long, and slightly more than 1/2 meter apart. The bands contain charcoal-darkened soil and varying amounts of fired clay fragments, and occasional artifacts. Olive jar sherds and aboriginal pottery sherds are present in these bands and in Structure 8 in general. Several wrought iron square nails and spikes have been found within or near Structure 8.
The bands have multiple features. Most of these features were found within or along the margins of broader bands of dark soil. Features are found at approximately 1/2- to 1-meter intervals along the bands. All features contain charcoal and varying amounts of fired clay fragments. It is not yet known whether some of some features are posts or other feature types, or both. In plan view at the base of the plowzone, some shapes are rounded and some are irregular, suggesting some posts and some other feature types. Some features intrude into each other, and other features look as though they are paired. Intrusive and/or paired features may indicate either a paired-post construction technique, or rebuilding, or both. The general absence of large oval shapes suggests that these features are not burial pit outlines. Further excavation will allow us to determine what these features are.
Small clumps of fired clay fragments and/or daub are found throughout many of these test pits, but this construction debris is most abundant in the southeast corner of Strip 1 and the northeast corner of Strip 2. This area of clay may represent the boundary or transition zone between Structures 7 and 8, if they are separate structures. Feature 37 in Strip 2 is the southernmost feature containing abundant clay. Features 34, 35, 36 and 37 are found near each other, and presumably mark the southern terminus of Structure 8. No features and no clay are found beyond there in the area that was open and available for viewing.
Structure 8 may be part of a larger structure that includes Structures 6 and 7. If so, then it is at least 28 meters East/West and 14 meters North/South, or larger. This is easily within the size range of known mission churches.
However, it now seems more likely that Structures 6, 7 and 8 are not a single structure. Structure 8 is something large and complex, but its possible curving lines may not be a church, either. Future investigations will include profiling more features and opening up a broader area to expose more features.
For more information on Strips 1 and 2 continue on.