Field School 2016 – Week 1
August Rowell – St. Mary’s College
“A Week of Careful Excavation and Dodging the Rain”
As the fourth week started, it also brought several changes, the first of which was that the second week of lab rotation took place, and the second was that after having completed the midterm exam the week before, we were now able to empty our screens without needing to have Travis or Ruth come over and double-check our work in case we had missed any artifacts.
This week also brought in a large number of visitors to the site, which gave us plenty of opportunities to practice giving tours to the public.
In the beginning of the week, our day-to-day activities remained largely the same as to what we had been doing the week before: shoveling plow-zone, screening for artifacts, and cleaning sidewalls. However, as the days rolled by, we soon reached the point where we had to switch to smaller and slower means of excavation.
Within a few days, all work in the units consisted of using trowels to clean the units to see any potential features. This meant that we found fewer artifacts, although we did find a musket-ball with teeth marks in it, as well as an intact gun flint.
During this week, we had visits from both the Ferry Farm field school as well as the Jamestown field school, in order to see how our program differs from theirs. The Ferry Farm field school was able to visit us while we worked out in the field, but there was rain in the forecast when the Jamestown field school visited, so instead they received a lecture about the history of Historic St. Mary’s City and a tour of the museum’s properties delivered by Dr. Henry Miller.
During the rainy days this week, we were once again in the lab watching videos and receiving lectures. In addition, the lab director Silas Hurry was able to show us a collection of some of the cooler artifacts stored in the lab. This included x-rays of iron objects, many conserved tools, the lid of Phillip Calvert’s coffin from the lead coffin excavations, and a portion of Philip Calvert’s preserved hair.
As the week came to an end, we were able to practice drawing the stratigraphy in a unit profile, as well as documenting soil descriptions. I am excited to see what new skills we will be able to practice and develop within the upcoming weeks of the field school.