Hello again, all, it’s Matt Tuttle! I’m a little late to the party this year but better late than never, right?
It has been an exciting and productive year in the field for this archaeologist. I worked on a number of projects around the historic Hampton Roads, Virginia area (U.S.) over the past year. Most recently, for the past 7 months, I have been excavating in Isle of Wight County at a 17th-18th Century colonial site that has been yielding very impressive finds. Underneath and amongst standing structures at the site there are forgotten objects and architecture that hint at what daily life was like for the sites inhabitants. These signatures of early colonial occupation have been my focus lately after the initial archaeological survey I completed during winter.
Among the most interesting and important features of the site is a root cellar encased in a brick foundation associated with an early structure. The preservation of the objects inside the cellar is better than anywhere else I’ve seen in the southeastern Virginia; usually conditions in this region are not conducive to artifact preservation as it is often tidal, has a very high water table, volatile weather, and temperature fluctuations from 0 to 100+ degrees F within a season.
When the cellar was no longer in use, probably sometime in the late 1700’s based on the artifacts, it was filled in and leveled off. We expect to learn a lot about the early colonial Virginians who closed this cellar by analyzing the refuse we found among the dirt, ash, bricks, and clay. The cellar is so well protected from the elements that fish scales, bone, teeth, metal artifacts, and even some wood have been preserved. Articles of clothing, tools, and recreational objects have also been turning up inside the cellar. This truly is an archaeologist’s dream and I am very fortunate to be working at such a unique colonial site. We hope to continue excavating the early structures and the remainder of the cellar over the next couple of seasons. One of the best parts about the site has been the outpouring of support and interest from the local community where the site is located. Once we are finished with research, we would like to establish an educational public archaeology park featuring the archaeological structures’ footprints to accompany the existing public historic site. See you next year!