As the second to last week of our field school proceeded, we as students found ourselves gaining a bit more responsibility for the excavation process than when we first began digging west of the Valley Forge Memorial Chapel. We have acquired the skills necessary to independently perform tasks that we previously needed supervision for, such as screening and identifying artifacts, and laying in new units. The archaeological methods that we have applied in excavating the site could not have been learned without the unique hands on experience and instruction that field school has provided for us.
During this week we laid units and excavated in two areas that were new to us. Although there was still work to be done in the northern hut area that we began excavating last week, the water damage caused by the weekend’s intense thunderstorms prevented us from digging there on Monday. We did clean the area in the morning, but then proceeded to open new units that extended west of the camp kitchen area that was previously excavated by Carin and her field school last year. We continued to excavate this area throughout the week, and uncovered the suspected extension of a feature found last year. We uncovered a large, dark soil stain that curved around the base of a hill, which is characteristic of the trench of an encampment period kitchen. The mound that it surrounds was created because it naturally insulated the fireboxes that were dug into its sides. Within this area, we found evidence of food production with artifacts such as butchered cattle bone, charcoal, ceramic. On Friday, a 2nd Pennsylvania regiment button was found that resembles one found last year at the same site. This find is very interesting to us because the 2nd regiment was not stationed in this area, but was instead well to the south of our site.
The other new area that we laid units in and began excavating this week was the area known as the “rock scatter”. This area of limestone cobbles was excavated in 2007, and was interpreted as a work area, similar to one found in Wayne’s Woods. Melted lead, deteriorated buttons, musket balls, the base sherd of a tankard and a tobacco pipe fragment were found here. While we were cleaning the area to prepare it for public archaeology day, several metal artifacts were found including nails and a cufflink. Hopefully we will find more artifacts that will help us better understand this area on public archaeology day.