Posts Tagged ‘African American’

Day 4 of Digging…

June 4, 2008

We had a relaxing weekend and even got a chance to wash some of the artifacts from the STPs on Sunday. A lot of artifacts are coming out. We almost have an entire artifacts box full and we have been digging 4 days.

Today was a perfect digging day on Nantucket. We have 6 excavation units open right now with several features going. Mike and Kate J excavated a pipe trench running through their unit, which is West of the Higginbotham House Sunporch. The dirt in the trench is significantly lighter than the surrounding dirt and is probably re-deposited subsoil.

Kate D. and Marisa continued too dig Excavation Unit 2 East of the cottage and found several buttons as well as much typical 19th century domestic trash. The layers in this unit, seems to be similar, but not conforming exactly to the stratigraphy found in STP1, which is just a few feet off. They dug down to 57cmbs and they expect a large midden-ish level soon…

Teresa dug through layer 2 in EU3, against the West side of the Higginbotham House. The layer went down to about 28cmbd and cut toward the house, like a garden might be. At the base of layer 2 there were a lot of large artifacts, such as half of an 18th century slip-decorated redware bowl.

Dave spent the morning doing a detailed plan map of the paved surface in EU5 and after lunch Mike continued excavating in this unit. The stratigraphy in this area seems somewhat complicated, but it appears that the mottled level seen in EU3 may have a corresponding layer here, in the southern part of the unit near the house.

Ashley excavating (at a level every 15 minutes…) EU6, which is a southern extension of EU1 which is 50 x 100 cm. She did this in order to expose a large unidentified metal object in the center of her unit which is associated with Feature 2, a pit dug to bury it. we don’t really have any idea what this thing is…our most recent pondering waver between car part and waffle iron☺

We hope to get out tomorrow too, but it looks like rain so we may be washing artifacts most of the day…

Find below a rough plan view of our excavation units so far as well as a picture of that unidentified metal objec tin EU1/EU6.

Site Excavation Units as of June 3rd 2008


Digging Begins

May 30, 2008

Yesterday we laid out a series of excavation units oriented flush with the Higginbotham House and the cottage (EU 1, EU2, EU3). We also shot in one unit based on the results of our GPR survey just west of the HH sunporch (EU4)…more information to come on that. Visitors to the site from around the neighborhood and the Museum of African American History started to come by in the afternoon.

We left a little early to get ready for our public talk kicking off the project at the Nantucket African Meeting House. We discussed our research questions, the general history of the site, and the results of our remote sensing surveys. We got some good feedback about some questions we might want to ask in our research. One visitor, Bette Sprigs suggested that the accessibility of different types of food on the island during the 19th century may have been limited due to the remoteness of the island and the ways that information is controlled by different groups at different times. This is one question that will be important for thinking about why certain foods turn up at the site and others do not. L’Merchie Frazier, the Museum’s education director, also brought up some great points. She suggested looking into the occupations of neighborhood residents and seeing if there was a correlation with the proximity of the area with the nearby windmills. We also spoke about weaving and dyeing with indigo. We know that Seneca Boston was a weaver so it would be interesting to know what technology he was using, especially because there is a possibility that African methods of indigo dyeing may have been taking place on the island.

Today we started excavations at the House. We opened up three shovels test pits (STPs) in the backlot in order to figure out the stratigraphy in the area. All the STPs started out with very organic, dark soils. STP 3 soon hit a paving stone for a patio, though, so Kate J and Mike opened up a 1 x 2 m unit instead after the first level. Several other paving stones turned up after that and it looks like we may have a 20th century patio area (see photo below)… In STP1 we went through a few layers of furnace scale and various 19th century ceramics, nails, bottle glass, animal bones. Marisa and Kate D. started finding a lot of large mammal bones at about 55 cm in addition to large pieces of metal and other 19th century artifacts so we may be seeing a midden layer of some kind. Ashley excavated STP2 down to about 80cm (like a champ, really:) and came down on a silty sand layer (7.5 YR 5/8 Strong Brown) with some beautiful 18th century slip-decorated redware. We are hoping to reach an original ground surface soon.

Digsafe also visited us in the afternoon and helped us to figure out where the electrical lines were running into the outbuildings, including the garage, the cottage, and the hen house. Thanks Gerard!

Can’t wait for tomorrow!


May 28, 2008

Mike Way and I traveled to Nantucket today—it only took 5 hours from Boston (cab to bus to cab to ferry to cab to apartment). Our condo for the next few weeks is awesome! Lots of space and a backyard with a bar-b-que. Complete with understated Nantucket grey shingles.

We are busily getting ready for tomorrow. Inventorying kitchen accoutrements and working on our computers. Tomorrow the rest of the crew arrives and we set-up some units in the yard. Then tomorrow evening we have a talk at the Nantucket African Meeting House (6pm). Busy, busy busy.