Plowing had removed most of the architectural remains of the Vardeman house. So, archaeologists turned to the spatial distribution of the artifacts, but also to soil chemistry analysis, to help them identify the house location and the waste disposal areas in the yards that surrounded it.
The Vardeman Family threw away many things, but what was most significant for the soil chemistry analysis, were the organic remains - food, human waste - and ash from fireplaces they disposed of. As these materials decomposed, their presence changed the chemistry of the soil.
Researchers interpreted areas with high levels of potassium and magnesium as places where burning had taken place, such as a hearth, or where family members had thrown out ash after cleaning-out hearths. Other site areas showed high levels of phosphate, calcium, manganese, and zinc. These areas were interpreted as places where organic materials linked to privies and trashpits were deposited.