Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Week Five Summary

This week has focused heavily on getting ready for our big day – Public Archaeology Day! It was Saturday, August 8th, from 8:00am – 2:00pm. In preparation for our hoped-for crowd, the students spent much of the week cleaning up previously excavated units in order to be presentation-ready for Saturday. We invited the public to come and experience our excavation through our museum exhibits in the Chapel, through site tours of all of the various parts of the landscape, and through helping the field school screen the soil in order to find artifacts from the encampment of the Continental Army.

In terms of actual excavation work, we had to shift focus a bit. A storm early in the week really left us with a wet and silted-in potential hut site. Monday we cleaned up the perimeter excavation units, and left it all open to dry out. The rest of that day we moved up to the camp kitchen. This is a site that I am really excited to continue excavating, but it requires a lot of patience and slow-moving. We expected to find the continuation of our dark organic feature which denotes a kitchen trench. We had to be highly vigilant in order to spot it when it first appeared – it is quite difficult to distinguish from our dark, soft topsoil. Luckily, we came right down on it, just where we expected, and it even curves around the earthen mound as a typical kitchen should.

We also laid in units for our Public Day, returning to our 2007 area of excavation to revisit an indentified clustering of artifacts. We expected to find only artifacts, no features in these four new squares…which of course meant that we found not one or two, but six post holes on Saturday. You can read a more detailed description of Public Day itself below.

Though there was intermittent rain this week, we persevered through it in order to knock down bulk walls and make clean, clear areas of excavation; as well, we spent a long time drawing the features we have identified. It took much of Thursday just to map the overhead (in archaeology the “plan”) view of the newest hut feature. The students were each responsible for part of the feature, with the understanding that all of their drawings would fit together in the end. Technical drawing is such an important part of our record-keeping jobs, it’s really pertinent that the students learn this skill, and learn it well! We will try to scan in a drawing as an example sometime in our last week.

In terms of artifacts, it was a quiet week – our most exciting find came on Friday morning as the class was troweling back the camp kitchen feature. We discovered ANOTHER 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment button! We discovered one in the fall of 2008 in the camp kitchen trench, thinking that it had just moved from the area where the Pennsylvania brigades were encamped to our south in Wayne’s Woods. When we discovered another one in a different part of the site, we got suspicious. Now a third 2nd PA button, and the second from our kitchen, suggests something else is going on here. I don’t know what yet, but we will be sure to update when we have an idea! Until then, one week to go….

Stay tuned!


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