New Week, New Unit: Mariana Zechini’s Week 4

by Mariana Zechini, VCU student

This week, Lauren and I completed our first unit and began digging our second unit directly east of our first one. I was excited to move on to a different unit and see what we would find. We knew that we would encounter part of Feature 13, a modern utility trench that runs through the site, but that didn’t hinder my excitement for some new soil!

Monday was spent changing units and removing the topsoil. Tuesday was spent excavating our 20th century disturbance layer, which provided various interesting artifacts. This layer yielded one wig curler fragment, ceramics, one pipe stem, glass and a clay marble.

On Wednesday, we took a field trip to DC to visit some animals at the zoo, and more importantly, listen to a lecture on GIS and the archaeology going on in Washington, DC from Dr. Ruth Tricolli, the archaeologist for DC’s Historic Preservation Office. She discussed the importance of GIS knowledge and what is being done in the District of Colombia using this technology. She showed us several maps of the types of archaeology being done in the city and where, as well as how she and her staff have been able to locate former streams or man-made land in the area.

A funky meerkat in the small mammals building.

A funky meerkat in the small mammals building.


After our visit with Dr. Tricolli, field school students headed for the National Museum of Natural History to see the Written in Bone exhibit. Being from Northern Virginia, I have visited this museum a number of times and I love it more each time. I am especially interested in the Written in Bone and Human Origins exhibits that were completed within the past few years. The Written in Bone exhibit, housed on the second floor of the museum, outlines the hardships that colonists faced in the Chesapeake area during the 17th century by studying skeletal and cultural remains. I have a strong interest in bones and so it is very inspiring to see this collection, as well as the Human Origins exhibit, which describes the life and anatomy of our early human ancestors.

Hanging out with the sea lions.

Hanging out with the sea lions.

On Thursday morning, we arrived at our unit and noticed that one area had dried out significantly more than the other, which indicated that we had reached the top of our utility trench. Lauren and I quickly dug through the trench, which spanned the length of our west wall and moved on to our antebellum layer by lunch. We were excited to excavate the antebellum layer since our 20th century layer had yielded so many interesting artifacts. We found one wig curler, white salt glazed stoneware, American stoneware, various metal pieces, nails, glass and lithic debitage.


One of two wig curlers found this week!

One of two wig curlers found this week!

Friday morning we rushed to get two wheelbarrows full of soil so that children from Ferry Farm’s archaeology camp could help us screen. Three very intelligent campers helped me screen one wheelbarrow where they found brick, oyster shell, ceramics and lithic debitage! We moved on to our colonial layer, but we are not finding many more artifacts. Hopefully we will be able to complete this unit by the end of next week!


 Our unit as of Thursday afternoon

Our unit as of Thursday afternoon.



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