Field School 2015 – Week 7
“Helm’s alee…bowlines are free!”
Lissa Tenuta – Field School Assistant
The Maryland Dove, a recreation of a late 17th -century sailing vessel, commands the small port at Historic St. Mary’s City. Every visitor and student who boards the vessel can’t help but imagine the voyage of the Ark and the Dove on open seas with cramped quarters, monotonous food and hard work as they made their way to what is now Maryland. Our field school had the spectacular opportunity to learn a small part about sailing the Dove and embark on a short voyage of our own. Captain Will Gates and his expert crew spent an afternoon instructing each of us on our specific tasks, and then we set sail on the St Mary’s River the next morning.
Some students availed themselves of the opportunity to go aloft (a few returning to deck with wobbly knees), while others served the bowlines, tack lines, sheets and tiller. Without a doubt, every one of us has a new appreciation for sailing in general and the voyage to this continent in particular; and a few students may show up at the dock next semester to volunteer! One thing is for certain, trowels and ship’s ropes make different callouses!
Lissa is this summer’s field school assistant and is a 2013 graduate of the University of Minnesota. She is interested in Historical Archaeology, Museums, Preservation and Public History.
“A week of interesting small finds“
Mickey Shymansky – St. Mary’s College of Maryland ‘16
Most of us as children had a fascination with digging holes. Most of us wanted to find some kind of treasure, or to dig to China. The joke tossed around by archaeologists is that we never grew out of that. We still love to get down in the deep earth, bringing up the history of our ancestors to see what we can learn about them. This week was no different, as we brought up a small piece of history with its own story to tell.
One of my colleagues working with me in my square pulled out an interesting metal artifact. The interesting thing about metal is that it usually corrodes, or is oxidized (rusted) to such a point that it is nearly impossible to tell what it once was. This artifact, in particular, was lead. Lead is a dense material that is still malleable, and though we know today that lead has toxic effects on the body, the colonists were unaware of this idea. Thus, lead was a commonplace element in everyday activity: forming silverware and even lining various drinking vessels.
Our small lead object is known as a bandolier cap. Bandolier caps are used on wooden containers that held gunpowder and were carried by hunters or soldiers. At first we thought it was an ordinary rock, since it was covered in dirt, but it was rather heavy. We showed it to our instructor who recognized it as an important piece of history!
Many more artifacts have been found this week, including a chert projectile point, possibly a type know as a Potomac Point. These points are known to date to the Late Woodland period (ca. A.D. 950 – A.D. 1600) and are found throughout Maryland. This point is particularly small and has a rather sharp tip. Naturally, we were very excited to find it given its’ small size.
A very small and mysterious iron five-pointed star was also found. The purpose of such a tiny, iron star is still unknown, but being made of metal and so wonderfully intact, is still a very exciting find.
We thought it might be part of a spur, known as a rowel, but we remain uncertain until the object is cleaned and examined in the lab. I’m excited to continue finding artifacts on the Calvert site. Here’s to a great summer!
Mickey is a senior at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She is majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Museum Studies and Theatre. She is interested in Biological Anthropology and would like to pursue a career in the Museum field.