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1 September 2016 Morphology, Provenance, and Decomposition of a 19th Century Hybrid Dugout and Sod House in Nicodemus, Kansas
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Abstract
During the summer of 2009, researchers and students traveled to Nicodemus, Kansas to investigate a settlement home of African American pioneers. In the late 19th century, new arrivals in the Midwest often constructed dugouts and sod houses to quickly build shelters. Although sod structures began to disappear in the 1900's, their decomposed remains left clues in the soil that would tell us the story of their existence. Our team sought to identify and define sod remains that were once a part of an early home. Specifically, we studied the remains of one hybrid dugout and sod home and our goal was to collect data that would support the identification of materials used and how the structure has decomposed over time. Soil color, particle size analysis data, and micromorphology were used to compare and contrast the sod blocks from with other soil materials at the site. Generally, there is now a thin mantle of soil that has eroded from an upper landscape position and that now buries the site; dark rectangular blocks of soil, thought to be the sod; a lighter colored, structureless soil that outlined the darker blocks (henceforth referred to as “mortar”); and light colored soil underlying the section of the sod block wall. The properties of the blocks were generally more similar to the overlying soil - a strong indicator that the composition of the blocks was derived from sod cut from the surrounding area. Similarly, the particle size distribution of the mortar resembled the underlying native subsoil of the site. Based on the evidence, this paper identifies sod blocks within a geoarchaeological context and describes insights gained from the macro and micro-analysis of the soil.
Deann R. Presley and Flordeliz T. Bugarin "Morphology, Provenance, and Decomposition of a 19th Century Hybrid Dugout and Sod House in Nicodemus, Kansas," Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 119(3-4), (1 September 2016). https://doi.org/10.1660/062.119.0401
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