Ferry Farm Field Fun: Mariana Zechini’s Week 1

The famous surveyor’s shed at Ferry Farm which houses most of our tools and equipment.

The famous surveyor’s shed at Ferry Farm which houses most of our tools and equipment.

This week was the first week of the VCU 2013 field school at Ferry Farm. The first morning, Ashley, our TA, introduced us to the diverse history at Ferry Farm by leading us on a tour of the site. In the afternoon, we were able to start digging. My partner, Lauren, and I recorded elevations and soil color and texture before finally putting our shovels to the dirt. We made it through most of the topsoil by the end of the day and found mostly plastic, but some lithic debitage as well.

Lauren and I setting up our test unit on our first day. Photo taken by Bernard K. Means

Lauren and I setting up our test unit on our first day. Photo taken by Bernard K. Means

Below the topsoil lies the 20th century disturbance layer. Lauren and I dug about half of the layer and stopped once we spotted a feature in the southeast corner of our unit. As it turns out, the concentration of rocks and difference in soil color was the top of an STP excavated by previous archaeologists. We immediately stopped digging and began the paperwork for our feature. Digging features separately is extremely important in archaeology. Features can include shovel test pits, middens, cellars and a number of other things and are treated as an entirely new context and layer. Wednesday and Friday were spent working on the STP feature. Artifacts recovered included, ceramic, nails and plastic. Unfortunately, before we were able to finish excavating our feature, a storm quickly hit Ferry Farm and crew members and field school students rushed to get units covered and paperwork in order before safely evacuating the site.

The top of our STP feature can be seen in the southeast corner of our unit.

The top of our STP feature can be seen in the southeast corner of our unit.

On Thursday, the field school took a trip to Wakefield where Amy Muraca led us through the grounds. We mostly discussed how the site has been interpreted over the years, as well as various archaeology projects that have been performed on the site. We were fortunate enough to also see the collections housed at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument which include a variety of artifacts. Ashley also presented Amy Muraca with plastic replicas of two artifacts: a wine seal with Augustine Washington’s initials and a 19th century pipe bowl with “Egypt” incised on it. These plastic models were made in the Virtual Curation Lab housed in the School of World Studies at VCU.

One of the marbles found in the 20th century disturbance layer.

One of the marbles found in the 20th century disturbance layer.

On Friday, Lauren and I got through most of the 20th century layer and found two marbles (one green, one black), glass, nails and lithic debitage. I am very excited to continue digging and I look forward to what these next few weeks will bring!

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