What We’ve Been Up To!!

The Fall semester has been a busy one for AiA.  Over the summer, we completed two successful field schools — one at SERC and Wye House, and another at Montpelier and Easton, MD — but a lot has happened since then.  This blog post will bring you up to speed on some of the things that have kept us busy the last few months!

AiA goes to Ireland

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Why Ireland?

Six University of Maryland graduate students, including many from Archaeology in Annapolis, traveled to Ireland for less than a week—far too little time—as the culmination and continuation of a class we took together in January. The class was taught jointly by Dr. Mark Leone at the University of Maryland and Lee Jenkins at the University College Cork, Ireland, along with several guest lecturers whose expertise ranged everywhere from Irish prison archaeology to critical readings of Frederick Douglass’ autobiographies. What sort of class covers both Irish history and Frederick Douglass and unites students from Maryland and Cork? One that explores the transatlantic connections between the Irish and African diasporas. While navigating the challenges that come with holding lectures over Skype, our sometimes lagging and pixelated conversations brought together our diverse interests and perspectives.  — Beth Pruitt

About the trip!

As a follow up to a winter term course on Frederick Douglass and Transatlantic Connections, 8 archaeologists from the University of Maryland went to Ireland for a week long exploration of the archaeology and landscapes of Ireland. In addition to spending time in Dublin and Cork, we took a day trip to Belfast where we met with archaeologist Laura McAtackney. She showed us around the city, going to a museum of Irish Republican History, on a tour of City Hall, and, of course, a Black Taxi Tour of East and West Belfast, stoping to sign the peace wall. What struck me was the physical segregation of two groups of people on the landscape which was almost impossible to miss, but also their separation culturally, which was much more subtle and difficult to see and understand. This separation could have been missed by an outsider (like us), who could have easily mistaken all these people as “residents of Belfast” or “Irish people”. This closely resembles how outsiders (archaeologists) could accidentally lump separate groups of people together in the past. — Kate Deeley

Presenting the Archaeological Findings from the Talbot County Women’s Club

Archaeology is often a very long and arduous process of gathering, organizing, and evaluating the information that comes out of the ground.  But it’s worth it!  On September 9th, Tracy Jenkins gave a presentation to the Talbot County Women’s Club on the excavation the club hosted at its historic property in Easton, Maryland, in 2013.  We were drawn there to look at free African Americans of the nineteenth century.  In the final stages of analysis this summer that the presence of two outbuildings became fully apparent.  One was a kitchen used approximately 1795-1891 where African-American cook Harriet Anderson worked in the 1870s and ’80s.  We were excited to share with the Club what we had discovered about their property, though the identity of the second building and traces of metalworking evidence across the site are still a bit of a mystery. — Tracy Jenkins

Frederick Douglass Conference

Frederick Douglass has become one of the most important figures in Maryland history. He was born and raised on properties owned by the Lloyd family where Archaeology in Annapolis has excavated for a decade. There, he escaped from slavery, but was still a slave legally. He determined he would end slavery in North America. Not only did he reach that goal, but also on the way decided to commit to ending permanent disfranchisement for the people of Ireland by making a strong alliance when he was 27 years old with Daniel O’Connell, known as “the Liberator” of Ireland. In order to bring archaeological scholarship at Wye House on Frederick Douglass and slavery into a Trans-Atlantic context, my students and I met with Douglass scholars from the Department of English at University College Cork in September of this year. Three weeks later those scholars came to College Park and visited Wye House. The joint symposium focused as much on the ways subordination from the nineteenth century have been extended into the twenty-first century as it did on the life of Douglass and the details of his accomplishments. The scholarship showed that the issues of freedom from oppression in North America and in Ireland may not be exactly the same, but techniques for removing freedom and narrowing the terms of existence continue and require the same kind of keen surveillance that Douglass constantly sought.  — Dr. Mark Leone

And that’s just the start of it — we’ve got a lot more going on this semester (and next).  Here are a couple of things that you can expect to see on the blog over the next few months:

  • A magnetometry survey session at SERC
  • The wonders of the 3D laser scanner and how we’ve been able to use it at SERC, Wye House, and Montpelier
  • More on Reynolds Tavern in Annapolis and the artifacts found there during the 1980s excavations
  • More on the trip to Ireland (including photos, and maybe even the Irish students’ perspective!)
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