Anthroprobably

Anthroprobably 2015

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.

Excavating in Isle of Wight County, VA.

Excavating in Isle of Wight County, VA.

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!

Cellar excavation.

Cellar excavation.


Anthroprobably: Archaeology in Historic Hampton Roads, Virginia

Hello again; Matt Tuttle here. I’m excited to participate in the Day of Archaeology for the second straight year [Anthroprobably DOA 2013]! While it has been an entire year since I posted, not a whole lot has changed. I’m still working on the long-term, full excavation of a site in Jamestown, VA  that dates to 1611 (see photo below); but I have also tackled a number of other projects this past year as well.

Ongoing excavation at a Jamestown site dated to 1611.

Ongoing excavation at a Jamestown site dated to 1611.

One of these projects was a phase I archaeological survey in a park which contains what is considered to be the earliest free black settlement in the U.S.  The park plans to expand parking areas and a few trails on the grounds; the survey was completed to ascertain that no culturally sensitive materials or sites would be destroyed by the proposed construction. Generally these types of surveys consist of laying a grid over the site and digging STP’s (shovel test pits) every 50 feet in every direction inside the project area. We record the depth, soil layers and descriptions, any and all artifacts or features found, and produce profile maps for each STP excavated. We then investigate any finds discovered in the project area and complete a site report describing our results and conclusions.

I also just recently finished my largest solo CRM (cultural resource management) project to date along the James River in an area known as Governor’s Land Archaeological District in James City County. The project involved excavating 2.5 x 2.5 feet squares every 10 feet for approximately 1/4 of a mile along a proposed roadway and sewage pipeline. If you are wondering how many squares that works out to be, I’ll tell you: 113! Since the roadway will be located in an area known to be historically important, it was imperative that we made sure nothing would be missed. The project took just over two months to complete (see photos below).

Units every 10 feet.

Units every 10 feet.

Unit with bricks exposed.

Unit with bricks exposed.

I enjoy reading about everyone else’s Day of Archaeology and look forward to participating again in the future! [Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @Anthroprobably]