Intense, Fun and Rewarding: Ruth Martin’s Week 1

by Ruth Martin, VCU student

This was the first week of Ferry Farm Field School, during which I learned quite a few new things. The paperwork was something we went over in depth and some of the more detailed parts of information were new to me. I always knew that field work is not easy but I didn’t realize how intense, fun and rewarding it can be. One of the more exciting parts of excavating is screening. It’s a chance to put your skills to the test in differentiating artifacts from rocks and dirt, which can sometimes be a challenge. It’s also an opportunity to learn about the different artifacts that you find.

The amazing screening equipment!

The amazing screening equipment!

This week Stephanie and I set up our unit, and removed the topsoil layer. In the topsoil we mainly found pieces of plastic.

Our test unit, the first layer done!  The top of our 20th century layer begins.

Our test unit, the first layer done! The top of our 20th century layer begins.

In our twentieth century layer, we found a few pieces of pottery- in particular a nice piece of “Rhenish German Stoneware”.  Ashley helped us identify this piece.    The bottom side displayed the salt glaze associated with stoneware, which texture looks and feels like an orange peel. The blue design on the side displayed indicates the pottery fragment was of German origin.

Rhenish German Stoneware found in our 20th century layer.

Rhenish German Stoneware found in our 20th century layer.

On Wednesday we took a break from the intense heat and went to Wakefield. Amy Maraca of the National Parks Service was nice enough to give our field school, nine students in total, a private tour of the grounds and foundations of George Washington’s birthplace.

On Friday we managed to start scraping the top of our antebellum layer, this is where our finds started to get really interesting. We found a horses tooth, a couple pieces of bent rounded metal, and a tiny piece of yellow pineapple pottery! I think that the bits of metal may have originally been part of a horse’s tack, though that’s just a wild guess that needs much more evidence to back it up.

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