Posts Tagged ‘african american history’

Day 6 of Digging

June 7, 2008

On Friday we got a lot done despite the intermittent rain showers in the morning (and Teresa’s unfulfilled promises that it would clear up by 11am).

EU3 is turning out to be a very productive unit in terms of artifacts, producing a lot of historic ceramics, window glass and now, 35cmbd, many articles of personal adornment. In the southwest corner of the unit, along the foundation of the Higginbotham House, we found 5 shell buttons all in the same area. Because the significance of this find was ambiguous, we collected a soil sample and collected the artifacts in this area separately. It is difficult to interpret this find, however, though as we also found two broaches in this level. One in the Northeast corner and the other when looking through the screen. Below is a photograph of one of the broaches which seems to be a cuprous crown-shaped pin (though this might be a belt buckle). We still have no idea when it dates to.

EU4 and EU2 were closed out today. In EU2 Marisa and Kate D hit the C horizon (a yellowish-brown sand) at about 107cmbd. In EU4 Kate J hit C horizon about 72cmbd.

In Eu1/EU6 Ashley and Dave took out the artifacts in the trashpit feature and bagged them. The objects were wrapped in plastic styrofoam material and bagged individually. The milkglass dish was almost complete. Almost 30 cans came out and will later be analyzed for the manufacturing method used. We still haven’t identified the large car-battery-like object from previous posts.

In EU5 Mike chipped away at the complex stratigraphy he is finding. This unit does seem to show some of the similar stratigraphy with EU3 so Mike may find the same variety of artifacts found there. He is already pulling out buttons and found a ferrous toy jack.

Dave and Ashley laid out EU7, EU8, and EU9. EU7 is on the West side of the cottage. EU8 is on the West side of the Garge. EU 9 is on the East side of the Higginbotham House. Although Ashley managed to get through 15 cm of EU7, the other two will be opened on Monday. We are also planning to start STPs around the Hen House on Monday.

Have a great weekend! We are going to Polpis!Cuperous Broach


Day 5 of Digging

June 6, 2008

On Thursday we actually started to see some strata that may be subsoil in some of the units. Marisa and Kate D in EU2 are starting to come up with it at about 80cmbd. We are still getting some artifacts out yet so we are not completely out of the woods. Like rock stars, they managed to detect an entire post hole and a textbook postmold in the base of their tiny 1 x 1m unit. Now to find more postholes associated with that one! This would potentially allow us to say something about where structures may have been on the property in the 18th century.

Our unidentifiable-metal-object in the trash pit in EU1/EU6 has turned into a full-fledged early 20th century trashpit (Feature 2), complete with cans, a milk glass vase, and what may be an enamel pot. Although they managed to draw the entire feature in under and hour, they happily split the last Nantucket Bake Shop chocolate walnut cookie with everyone.

In EU3 at about 32cmbd (Level 3a) teresa uncovered a LOT of artifacts. A la more-artifacts-than-dirt type of context.Mostly modern window and bottle glass, mortar and brick, but also some interesting dark green glass, whiteware plates, and what may be some sort of non-ferrous metal decorative pin. The density of artifacts and the richness of the dark brown soil suggest that this may have been a previous ground surface.

In EU4 Kate J shovel-shaved away at the levels around Feature 1 (Pipe trench) and continued to cross her fingers that she would reach subsoil soon. Mike worked in EU5 excavating the yellow-brownish mottled layer that may be associated with some repairs to the back entrance to the basement. We called this Feature 5 as we thought it was going to be a builder’s trench. On Thursday he will be picking up the loppers and the shovel again to take out the next layer.

Things are going well and we are getting excited about Public Archaeology Week next week so hopefully you can come out to visit. Monday through Saturday 10-4pm!

Remote Sensing: Conductivity Survey

May 26, 2008

In August 2006 John Steinberg (UMB), David Landon (UMB), and I (Teresa Dujnic UCB) spent a day doing a conductivity survey at the site in order to find out something about the subsurface deposits. Our hope was that conductivity would be an appropriate technique for subsurface testing due to the geological make-up of Nantucket. As a glacial moraine, the island is composed primarily of sand which is very resistive to electrical current. Archaeological deposits such as privies, postholes, and trashpits would conduct the electricity much more readily, allowing these features to be detected as aberrations in the conductivity reading.

We found some interesting anomalies which may have to do with the well (mentioned in on of the deeds), the fire cistern (mentioned in an 1843 fire marshalls report), or a privy on the site. (Which only makes sense in the absence of indoor plumbing…) We also potentially found an anomaly which runs east-west in the east yard space. This could indicate that there was a hard-packed path running from the Higginbotham House to the yard of the Nantucket African Meeting House.

It is very hard to interpret this data, so all of this will need ground-truthed in the field.


May 25, 2008

Hello all!

Welcome to the Higginbotham House Archaeology Weblog. This weblog is meant as a place to keep people informed about the progress of the archaeological project over the next few weeks (and beyond…)

The Museum of African American History is sponsoring an archaeological dig at one of the important historic sites on Nantucket, the Higginbotham House. The Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at UMass Boston has been hired to undertake the research and I am using this project as part of my dissertation research at the University of California Berkeley.

The Higginbotham House was built in the late 18th century by Seneca Boston, a weaver and formerly enslaved African American man. He and his wife Thankful Micah, a Wampanoag woman, would raise a family there and pass the property down to their children. Except for one year, African American families owned the home for over 200 years. This home became part of the political and social space of the community, and the Boston family became a prominent black family on the island and abroad.

Its Memorial Day weekend and I am preparing for traveling to Nantucket on Tuesday and beginning the dig on Wednesday. If you happen to be on Nantucket on Wednesday May 28th, David Landon (UMass Boston) and I (Teresa Dujnic, UCB) will be giving a talk at the Nantucket African Meeting House at 6pm to kick off the dig. The NAMH is located at 29 York Street.