Muddy Monday, Montpelier, and More Features

Screening mud on Monday!

Screening mud on Monday!

Monday began with a rainstorm, as many of our days have begun over the past week or so.  We suspected that a storm may be rolling sometime in the morning, but we wanted to excavate as much as we could before it hit, so we rushed out to the field and started digging as quickly as possible!  About 30 minutes later, we were rushing to close up.  The rain poured and poured, but was fortunately not paired with thunder or lightning.  Within minutes I was completely soaked, but we successfully covered the site and put away the equipment before it got too bad.  Unfortunately, our mad dash to excavate meant that many of us had produced quite a bit of dirt in that first half hour, and as the rain became stronger, our wheelbarrows began filling with more and more water!  We all pitched in to help each other screen, but the soil was so muddy that we could not see anything we picked up.  It was an amusing challenge though, and despite being soaked and covered in slimy mud, I think that was probably the most fun I have has so far this summer!

After we finally got everything screened, the students returned home and the interns went inside to help out with some paperwork.  We stayed indoors until shortly after lunch, when the rain stopped and we were able to return to the field.  Allen and I worked on our unit and successfully brought it down to the antebellum layer, which should be full of exciting 19th Century artifacts!

Yesterday I accompanied the field school students on a trip to James Madison’s Montpelier, where we toured the house, the grounds, and the archaeology lab.  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and I learned a great deal about James and Dolly Madison that I never knew before!  I really enjoyed the lab as well, which is built to allow the public to walk through and see the many exciting artifacts they have in their collections.  I had a great time on this field trip and I can’t wait to visit again!

Artifacts found in our unit today!

Artifacts found in our unit today!

Today was a very productive day, and the first day this week that it did not start raining while we were outside!  Allen and I got about halfway through the antebellum layer, but just before we reached the colonial layer we noticed a thick line of bright orange soil and pebbles running through the middle of our unit.  After a lot of thought and confusion, we finally realized that this is part of a utility trench that runs through the whole northern half of our excavation area.  We will have to excavate the trench separately before we proceed with the rest of the unit, which I hope we can complete before the end of the week!  We did find some neat artifacts in our antebellum layer though, including a butchered bone (complete with cut marks!), Westerwald stoneware, some other lovely ceramics, nails, brick, and window glass.  Meanwhile, our students are making great progress, and I have enjoyed seeing the many things they have discovered as they work their way through their own units!

It’s been a wonderful week so far, and I am excited for the rest of it.  Tomorrow we are having a big 4th of July event, complete with activities, vendors, re-enactors, and archaeology, so if you happen to be in the Fredericksburg area, I encourage you to stop by and see us!  More information is provided on the website:  Have a safe and fun holiday!


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