Field School Week Three

Week three of the Archaeology Field School began with a change of pace as we headed to the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center instead of the usual site, Mount Harmon. Initially, Dr. Markin and Dr. Schindler were both excited to be working at a prehistoric site rather than a historic one and, after picking a likely site and hauling our equipment from the bus, we began digging. We were divided into groups of two and dug a total of fifteen shovel test pits. Unfortunately, it turned out to be slow work, as we had to dig through thick undergrowth and clay filled soil. We did not find enough evidence to confirm the presence of a prehistoric settlement but we did gain plenty of valuable experience setting up and documenting shovel test pits.On Tuesday, we had a brief lecture on identifying ceramic types as a prelude to the lab work we will begin next week. Liz Seidel taught us to recognize some of the major types of pottery and some of the history behind the ceramic industry. Afterwards, we headed to Mount Harmon and set up the day’s excavation. Instead of opening all of last week’s units, the professors decided to keep unit nine closed and open two new units. Units ten and eleven extended off of the existing units four and six in an attempt to follow the wall foundation that was discovered last year. The new units quickly proved promising as fragments of a broken pot were found in unit eleven and several bricks were found in unit ten. Meanwhile, Professor Schindler continued digging shovel test pits on the hill above the Prize House in the hopes of turning up the remains of a building that was supposedly located there.We took a trip to the Winterthur Museum in northern Delaware on Wednesday to view their massive collection of antiques and continue our introduction to ceramics. Due to minor trouble with the bus, we arrived about a half hour late but still had time to take a brief tour of the public museum section. Afterwards, we were allowed into one of the private sections for a lecture on ceramic types and to see some of the antiques not currently on display in the museum proper. The tour continued after lunch when we met one of Dr. Schindler friends, a professor at Winterthur’s graduate program, and got to see some of the conservation and restoration work done at the museum. The staff explained some of the equipment used in analyzing artifacts as well as some of the objects they were working to restore. We got to see George Washington’s saddle bag, a Greek vessel, and a Roman glass cup.The professors decided that the predicted temperature for Thursday was far too high for field work and kept us inside instead. Therefore, we spent the morning getting an introduction to cleaning and cataloging artifacts. It was tedious work but it gave us an appreciation for what goes on in the lab. After lunch, Dr. Seidel gave us a lecture on analyzing material culture and asked us to identify 15 artifacts with as much information as we could. Some of the pieces were surprisingly difficult to describe and few of us could give our artifacts a precise time period or location of origin.We finished the week at the Mount Harmon site where we opened a twelfth unit and continued excavating units eight, ten, and eleven. The new unit will hopefully find more of the trench that was discovered last year at about the same level as the stone foundation. Locus eight continued to test its excavators with a litany of loci all clustered together while units ten and eleven continued to follow the foundation. There was even evidence to suggest that the brick walkway found by last year’s field school continues across unit ten. In general, the new units looked very promising and we look forward to continue excavations on Monday.