2019 Week 8, Part 1

Back to Dispatches from Field School

Field School 2019 – Week 8, Part 1
Abigail Kuehne — St. Mary’s College of Maryland

“Beating the Heat”

The weather this past week made excavating out at the Calvert House site a challenge, but with extra water breaks and occasionally closing the site a bit early, we were able to finish the week without any incidents. A definite thank you to the students who were assigned to the lab this week but were willing to come out and help close site on Tuesday. While being cautious about the heat, quite a bit of progress was made with two units able to be closed and photographed, and a new unit opened up.

Small fragment of molded white clay pipe bowl with a rosette decoration

During the weekdays, there was a large amount of preparation for Tidewater Archaeology Weekend, so most of the soil was left unscreened. Discoveries were still made despite this, especially in the unit that I am excavating with my unit mate Sophia, and Chris who was in the lab this week. While troweling, Sophia and I were able to find large quantities of animal bone, including a large mostly intact vertebrae that is mostly likely from cattle, numerous fish bones, a very small ulna that is hypothesized to be from a bird, and a halved vertebrae that is likely from either a deer or sheep. These pieces were automatically placed in the artifact bag due to how fragile bone can become after years of being in the ground and the possibility that the bone itself could either be damaged or lost in the screening process.

Two 17th-century ceramic sherds found during Tidewater Archaeology Weekend: Rhenish blue and gray (left) and Staffordshire slipware with a combed decoration

There were a few other artifacts that went directly into the artifact bag such as glass that was either too fragile to take to the screens or too sharp to leave in the pile and have the possibility of a visitor accidentally cut themselves when they were helping us screen. Other artifacts that we were surprised to discover were six copper alloy pins. Most of the pins were completely intact, with only one pin broken, though there were a few that were bent. We were also able to find some window lead that can hopefully be conserved and opened by Stephanie Whitehead in search of the maker’s name.

Post author Abigail Kuehne (right) screens with fellow field school student Sofia Aletta (left) and a visitor during Tidewater Archaeology Weekend

All of these artifacts, however, were pulled due to how fragile they were so none of them were found with the visitors who braved the heat this weekend to come help us all screen through our buckets. Alongside the people visiting the Calvert House site, we were able to find many intriguing artifacts, such as a molded pipe stem that while in rough shape still showed its design, some large pieces of wine bottle glass, and various kinds of ceramics such as Rhenish brown stoneware, Rhenish blue and grey stoneware, Rockingham, Staffordshire slipware, and manganese mottled ware. With the heat advisory out, we were only able to stay outside at the Calvert House site until noon for both days of Tidewater, though we all stayed in Historic St. Mary’s until 4 o’clock, either going to the Visitors Center or the Shop at Farthings Ordinary where we were able to show some of the more interesting finds that have been found on site over the years and to show some of the artifacts that we had uncovered this year and what they look like before they are cleaned.