Old Friends and Familiar Faces

The Surveyor’s Shed at Ferry Farm

Earlier this month I made my way back up to Ferry Farm with fellow VCU students Crystal and Aaron.  We arrived at the archaeology lab bright and early in the morning, where Dr. Means and our trusty 3D scanner were already waiting.  We were there to scan some prehistoric stone tools that have been found during excavations at the site, which I will be using in a research project concerning the applications of 3D technology in lithics analysis.  I was extremely excited to be back at the site, and found myself very quickly overwhelmed by a strong sense of nostalgia.

Scanning a quartz projectile point.

We began setting everything up right away, but realized that we had accidentally left the powder, which we use to coat artifacts that our scanner has difficulty reading, back at the lab in Richmond.  Given that projectile points rarely scan well without it, we had to improvise and purchase some baby powder and paint brushes from a local drug store.  After the brief delay, we returned to the lab and began scanning!  I set up the first artifact- a stone projectile point- and powdered it with our newly purchased supplies, then started the scanner and hoped for the best.  Within the first few rotations we could tell that it was coming along surprisingly well, so we decided to take a walk around the site while it continued to work.

Our excavation area.

The walk through the gardens and across the field was a familiar one, and the fervor and enthusiasm I felt as we discussed the history of Ferry Farm on our way to the old excavation area was something I have missed terribly.  The dig site, now roped off and covered with black tarps and cinder blocks, lacked the vibrant energy that radiated from it during the summer, but I could still make out the five by five squares that I worked on over the course of the season, and it still made me smile when I thought about my adventures there.

After our walk, we returned to the lab to check on the progress of our scan.  It came out beautifully, so we quickly moved on to the next one.  We managed to scan four more projectile points and a stone engraver before the day was done, all without any problems at all.  Shortly after I began the engraver, however, Laura Galke called me into her office.

Me holding the aluminum foil pouch that contained a groundhog we recovered this summer.

I walked over to find a small group of lab technicians gathered at her door, and two small aluminum foil pouches inside.  “Does this look familiar?” she asked, pointing to the pouches.  My heart jumped as I got a closer look and recognized Victoria Garcia’s handwriting on the top of each one.  Inside were the remains of the groundhog that Victoria, Allison, Jason and I excavated during our third week of field school (see “An Unexpected Burial” for the original post)!  Laura explained how the animal was found and the significance of it to the group, and I got to briefly explain my part in the excavation.  This was a great treat for me, as the day we found this groundhog was one of the best days of my summer.

After the last scan was finished, we packed everything up and headed back to Richmond.  As always, I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Ferry Farm.  I am so glad that I was able to return and see so many familiar faces, including the groundhog, and I hope to return again soon!

The weeks since this trip have been extremely hectic back at the Virtual Curation Laboratory at VCU, but I’ve made a great deal of progress in my efforts there recently.  I will be posting more about those endeavors soon, as well as a new page with more information about the Virtual Curation Laboratory and my part there, so stay tuned!


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