The Day of Archaeology

Yesterday was the Day of Archaeology, and I chose to spend it at Ferry Farm!  It was my first day on the site since field school ended, so I was really eager to get back to digging.  Three of my classmates- Victoria Garcia, Allison Curran, and Ian Salata- also volunteered, so we were split into teams of two and assigned new units.  Victoria and I were placed at the corner of a fascinating section of the site where there have been some odd soil changes, which suggest a feature exists there.  A strange compilation of artifacts have been unearthed in this area as well, such as plastic toys, Civil War bullets, and various historic ceramics, including most of a porcelain teacup!  I have been really interested in this area for the past couple of weeks, so it was quite exciting to be able to dig there!

A very intriguing group of units! Ours is the square at the bottom left corner.

We began by cutting up the topsoil with our shovels and scraping it off it in square chunks, which is a process I have not had to do since my first unit.  It was a lot easier than I remember, and we actually managed to clear it rather quickly.  As we were digging we came across a small metal pipe that is sticking directly out of the ground.  No one was quite sure what it is, but I am eager to find out as we excavate further!  After removing the top layer, we proceeded to screen the matted down chunks of grass and dirt for artifacts.  We found a large piece of a terracotta pot and a couple of ceramics, but nothing more than that in this layer.

As soon as we finished screening, it was time for lunch.  The temperature by then was over a hundred degrees and extremely humid, so instead of returning to the field after the break we all headed inside for a presentation about wig curlers by Laura Galke.  Because we have been finding so many of them, she wanted to help us understand them better by explaining who used them and why.  I learned that the curlers we have been finding at Ferry Farm come in seven sizes and were most likely used in men’s wigs.  I also learned that wig curlers were typically only used at wig maintenance shops, which is why it is so unusual that we have found so many at the Washington’s home.

After the presentation, Allison, Ian, Victoria and I all went down to the lab to join Dr. Means, who was scanning some Ferry Farm artifacts and wanted to familiarize us with the scanner.  The first item he scanned was a pewter spoon that has the initials “BW” on the end, which belonged to George Washington’s sister, Betty Washington.  It took all morning to get a good copy of it, but eventually it worked!  After that he scanned a lead alloy cloth seal, a small metal hatchet toy that a tourist probably dropped, and finally, a Civil War Minie ball bullet that Ian found during field school.  Each scan went smoothly and, as usual, I was very impressed with the results!

A Civil War bullet being scanned.

The scan as it appears on the monitor.

It was a great day in the field and in the lab, and I’m glad that I got to spend my Day of Archaeology at Ferry Farm!  Dr. Means and I both posted a blog on the official Day of Archaeology website, and I’ve really enjoyed reading what other archaeologists from around the world are writing too.  You can read our posts and many more at!


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