Three Cranes Tavern

At the City Archaeology Lab, Boston, MA

Today is a pretty quiet Friday in the City Archaeology Lab here in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. We’ve had a busy past couple of weeks, so it’s nice to be able to take it easy for a change. It also gives us some time to read through old site reports in preparation for an upcoming book on the history of Boston.

Our volunteers are hard at work reanalyzing old collections. This particular collection is from the Three Cranes Tavern in Charlestown, which burned to the ground during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. After the battle, the town decided to leave the site undeveloped as a memorial, which gave us some incredibly well preserved archaeology when a road tunnel was put through in the 1980s as part of the Big Dig. We are going through the collections to try to identify and organize the artifacts more accurately, so that they can be more useful to researchers in the future.

Volunteer Annie and City Archaeologist Joe examine some ceramics from Three Cranes Tavern.

Volunteer Annie and City Archaeologist Joe examine some ceramics from Three Cranes Tavern.

Another big part of our day is keeping up with social media. We’re coming off our best week ever on Facebook, gaining 431 new page likes and reaching a total 23,559 people – that’s almost a 4000% increase from last week! Facebook and Twitter are great ways for us to share exciting tidbits from our day-to-day activities and stay in touch with archaeology and history enthusiasts from Boston and beyond.

Uploading a Facebook post about a late Archaic point, 4,000 - 6,000 years old!

Uploading a Facebook post about a late Archaic point, 4,000 – 6,000 years old!

Sometimes we need to pull out old collections to find the type of artifact we want to share with our fans. Today, we got out the lithics collections from the Dillaway-Thomas House site in Roxbury, which was last excavated in 1988. We were looking for stone points from the Native American occupation of the site, going back all the way to 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Many people don’t realize that Boston has an extensive Native component, and we want to share this relatively unknown but extremely important piece of history with the public.

We use a handbook of New England point types to identify artifacts before sharing them online.

We use a handbook of New England point types to identify artifacts before sharing them online.

Archaeology is hard work, and even on a slow day, we don’t want our volunteers to get hungry, so we make sure to provide lots of snacks.

We love cookies.

We love cookies.

After lunch, a researcher stopped by to check out some interesting pieces of redware that we’ve recently rediscovered in the Three Cranes Tavern collections. None of us have ever seen this particular style in Massachusetts, and the examples that have been found in Maryland and Maine have significantly younger dates than this piece. Exciting stuff! He took advantage of our setup to photograph this and other pieces for his research. It’s great to have a place where local researchers can come and have access to what they need.

Researcher Justin arranging some redware to photograph.

Researcher Justin arranging some redware to photograph.

Sometimes we get a little silly. The City Archaeologist made this video this morning when he had the lab to himself for a few minutes before the volunteers arrived.

Video tour of City Archaeology Lab and call for volunteers

Thanks for coming along with us today! If you want to be a part of a day in the City Archaeology Lab, shoot us an email (joseph.bagley@boston.gov)! We’re always looking for new volunteers.