Field School 2015 – Week 6
Zachariah Benalayat, Dickinson College ‘17
“Field Trip and Artifacts!”
We began our week by visiting our fellow Maryland archaeologists at Mt. Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park as well as Historic London Town and Gardens. It was a wonderful experience to see other excavations and labs, and to observe how every dig operates in a slightly different fashion.
We’ve gotten so used to digging and processing artifacts the Historic St. Mary’s City way, it was good to be reminded that every system is slightly different. We discussed different soil textures, survey methods, and swapped lab stories. We also received special tours of the exhibits and sites, and engaged in some fun activities such as spear throwing and standing next to creepy mannequins!
It was a short but fruitful week back at the dig site. The square we opened up that had not been dug by our compatriots in the 1980’s has turned out to be a treasure trove of artifacts. We filled up nearly two large artifact bags in a few days of digging!
The majority of what we’ve been finding is glass and nails. The quantity and variety of nails we’ve found cannot be exaggerated. The glass also proved quite interesting, as we’ve been finding several larger pieces that appear to have been melted in some fashion. I’m sure our experts down at the lab will figure it out however! An interesting fragment of delicate metal was also discovered, and it may be the handle to spoon.
The rest of the crew continued to dig through the backfill from the 1980’s, wrestling with roots and a local squirrel who did not seem to appreciate our presence. It’s really quite amazing what the previous archaeologists left behind. We’ve found entire nuts, a wrench, and even a large drill bit during our excavation. It’s not colonial era, but still nice to find. These are the kinds of things you find when excavating on museum grounds – the artifacts left behind while constructing exhibits, or while conducting archaeology on future exhibits!
Alas the holiday cut our work week short, and our never-ending search for a glass bead must go on. We did manage to find the neck of a glass wine bottle, as well as many sherds of porcelain and other high quality ceramics, which is always rewarding. Also frequently found: animal teeth, which we suspect are related to the 19th –century smokehouse that was part of the Brome-Howard occupation of the site.
Working at the Calvert site has been a blast so far, and I for one am giddy with anticipation for what we may find next!
Zachariah Benalayat is an Archaeology and Classics major at Dickinson College. He is interested in pursuing archaeology in his future.