As for the "downstairs," we took some extra steps to reinforce the buttressing of the walls. In addition to the vertical sections of plywood braced by vertical and angled 2 x 4's, I used a series of horizontal 4 x 4's to anchor the wall along the top and and provide some protection to the "lip" of the wall. I salvaged the lumber from a decrepit playset that my kids and I dismantled in the backyard last week. The ends of the 4 x 4's are screwed into wooden stakes pounded into the ground.
Overall, this field school went very well. I hope the 2017 field school was just the "tip of the spear" in terms of work at this site. We learned a great deal about the upper deposits present at 38FA608, and laboratory analysis will tell us a great deal more in the near future. The discovery of an intact Mack component is significant, as only a handful of other intact sites dating to this time period are known in the Carolina Piedmont. Following analysis of the materials recovered so far, we will be well-positioned to extract more information from the Mack component (including excavation of features) in the future. We'll then be able to explore below the Mack component in the "upstairs" block.
I also have plans to attempt -- soon -- a deep excavation "downstairs" to investigate what's beneath the deposits exposed in the profile wall. We know from the aborted Unit 7/10 excavation that: (1) there's cultural material down there; and (2) the lamellae stop but the sand continues. We also know that the matrix at that depth does not hold up well under even minor exposure to water: leaving units open down there (even protected by tarping, etc) for a week at a time was not a successful strategy. My plan to probe the deeper deposits of the site hinges on having several sequential excavation days to push down as quickly as possible into the sand. I'll keep you posted.