Week 3 in Annapolis

Measuring in the Holliday House.

Measuring in the Holliday House. Source: Kate Deeley

It is week 3 in downtown Historic Annapolis, and we have until Thursday to dig in our sites and then it is of to Wye House for the last 3 weeks of digging. Although many of the units are coming to sterile clay levels while their units come to a close, my unit (28) is just starting to get exciting!

After a not so exciting start in the basement of the James Holliday House, out unit had to relocate to a 4 by 4 unit in the backyard. Our T.A. Kate knew that this unit would have artifacts because in winter of 2009 they put a 1 by 1 foot STP (Shovel Test Pit) at the edge of the unit. They found artifacts and many different layers of strata in this unit. They also found a layer of brick about a foot and a half down and did not dig further beyond this when they did their test pit, so we are excited to see what is underneath the brick layer. Our unit had 2 different features to start off. One feature was a 2 by 4 wooden slate that was half into the unit, half in the air. This slate was called a feature and the area in front of the slate was called a Level because the wooden slate had blocked some of the run off from natural processes that happen over time. We found some ceramic pieces, glass, some nails, metal, mortar, bones, teeth, and a tiny glass bottle that looked like it may have been an old medicine bottle all in this level. When we got to level D, we uncovered a mixed silty clay layer. This layer was not too difficult to dig up, however it is very deep. We spent almost 2 days digging it up and had some reinforcements form the Cornhill Units.We found some bones, class, and ceramics in this level but not in large amounts.

We have finally gotten through a little over a foot of loamy silty clay and are touching on some brick and some coal ash. Because this unit is outside, there is more natural weathering taking place and therefore artifacts may be deeper in the ground as apposed to the basement unit we dug up and did not get very deep into and uncovered sterile clay. We are extremely excited to find some coal ash as our next level because their tends to be a lot of artifacts in coal ash levels and it is also easy and fast to dig through.

My favorite part of digging in Annapolis is digging up artifacts because I think our archeology field school can make a difference in the untold history of black slaves. In our reading discussion on Friday, we talked about exactly why it is important to study the material culture of humans, in particularly black slaves. In history books, you often read about is the American Revolution, imperialism, expansion out west, white supremacy, and any subject that glorifies America and Caucasians. The history and culture of black slaves is not talked about and I think that is a shame. I think its important to uncover the facts about daily life for black Americans in the early 19th century because if we can learn new facts about history then we can change the way history is written and told. Although finding a piece of a ceramic plate in a backyard seems sort of un-useful, I would like to think I am a small part of helping re-write the history African American culture and give it the attention it deserves.


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