Dug and Buried: Lauren Volkers’s Week Two

by Lauren Volkers, VCU student

July 1st, Ferry Farm dig site everything soaking wet from the rain.

July 1st, Ferry Farm dig site everything soaking wet from the rain.

Day 6 (July 1st): Unfortunately it was another short day, due to weather. I was really excited to get down to the antebellum layer today, but Mother Nature had other ideas. We first started to uncover everything and get all of our materials from the surveyor shed, but right as we started to dig it started to rain. As it started to mist we all started to shift through our dirt and that’s when it really started to rain. Mariana and I only were able to get enough dirt to fill half a bucket before we had to start covering everything up. So unfortunately we were only to get about an hours’ worth of digging in today. It was pretty fun to shift through the mud, since the rain made all of our dirt into mud, and it wasn’t too bad getting all wet. Hopefully the weather will be a little bit nicer for the rest of week so we can get more digging done.

 Laura (our field director), Ashley (TA/ field crew chief), Allen (field crew chief), and other interns help shifting some dirt/mud looking for artifacts.

Laura (our field director), Ashley (TA/ field crew chief), Allen (field crew chief), and other interns help shifting some dirt/mud looking for artifacts.

 

Day 7: Today we went on a field trip to Monpelier, James Madison’s old home. First we watched a short film on the history of James Madison and the property. Then we went on a tour of James Madison’s house and got to see what the house may have looked like on the inside. The house is different than what it looked like back then because they had to deconstruct the house since the duPonts (owners of the house after the Madisons) made additions to the house. The goal was to get the house to look like what it would have been during James Madison’s retirement. After the tour the director of Archaeology Matt Reeves gave us a tour of the current excavation site, where the slave houses would have been and possibly a smoke house for tobacco.

The excavation site at James Madison where the slave houses and a possible tobacco house stood.

The excavation site at James Madison where the slave houses and a possible tobacco barn stood.

Then we had a quick lunch break before we went up to see the Archaeology lab. The Archaeology lab was impressive because they had an interactive screen that had information about the site, how things are done, and what they have found so far. I really liked the pull out trays that displayed a bunch of artifacts they found, my favorite were the little toy figures. Some of us were trying to quiz ourselves with the ceramic pieces they had on display. Hopefully I will be able to remember most of them in time for our ceramics test.

A metal statue of James and Dolly Madison.

A metal statue of James and Dolly Madison.

Day 8: Today Mariana and I continued our 20th century layer and finally got to our antebellum layer! Unfortunately due to weather again we had to close early due to a storm. We found our antebellum layer because there were more rocks and the dirt had a little bit of mottling in it. We did not find much in our 20th century layer but we did find glass shards, ceramic sherds, nails, plastic, and lithic debitage. Luckily since we are just about to start our antebellum layer means we will have plenty of dirt for the public to go through and hopefully interesting artifacts to show everyone tomorrow for the 4th of July festival at Ferry Farm.

Day 9: It’s the 4th of July! Ferry Farm was very busy today due to the vendors and the public coming out to celebrate the 4th of July. We also add re-enactors come out too! My favorite was the man who played George Washington; he was really dedicated to his part and knew quite a bit about the history.

volkers figure05

Dr. Means came out too and helped/talk to the public. Since there were so many people Mariana and I got a lot of help shifting through dirt and finding artifacts. I think today was our best day for artifacts because we found: many sherds of ceramics, agate ware, a lot of nails, a sharks tooth, glass shards, lithic debitage, animal bone, and our first hair curler! Unfortunately, again, we had to pause our antebellum layer because a trench was discovered going through our unit and units around us. The trench was first discovered by Katie and Ryan (interns at Ferry Farm) and it turns out that it was a 20th century utility line. Hopefully we can get through it pretty quickly.

volkers figure06

Mariana and I’s first wig curler that has a full end.

Day 10: Today was our second full day of the week so yeah! It was really hot and humid today so we did not get a lot done today since it was so hot. Mariana and I just worked on the trench that went through our unit and luckily it didn’t go through our STP (shovel test pit), but it did get pretty close. Since the trench was 20th century we weren’t expecting to find much. We did find part of a wig curler (not an end piece so it did not count towards the total number of wig curlers), ceramic sherds, glass, and nails. Near the end of day Mariana and I did get near the end of the trench so hopefully on Tuesday we can touch up the walls and continue excavating our antebellum layer.

Our unit with the STP and the 20th century utility pipe running through it. Photo taken by Mariana Zechini.

Our unit with the STP and the 20th century utility pipe running through it.
Photo taken by Mariana Zechini.

 

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