Williamsburg

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]

A day: Professional Service, the Dissertation, and Happy Hour

What this archaeologist will not be doing today: digging.

A day in my life, as a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Michigan State University (but residing in the historical archaeology mecca of Williamsburg, Virginia), is often a a struggle between writing my dissertation and taking care of other archaeologically related business that seems to pop up throughout the day. For example, my morning today started with taking care of some professional service responsibilities. As a graduate student, I have been doing my part to make sure I can weasel my way into making an impact on how my discipline works professionally. Often, this is a difficult task for a grad student, but, I consider it important. This morning (after a bit of sleeping in because I was up late grading for my online introduction to archaeology course) I sat down to a number of emails and tasks relating to professional organizational business. I have managed to find a niche within my organization, the Society for Historical Archaeology: social media. Part of my responsibilities has been running the Facebook and Twitter pages for the upcoming conference in Baltimore. Additionally, I have been working closely with other members to develop an action plan to get the entire organization to use social media in a comprehensive and effective way. We are making solid progress.

 

My afternoon, however, will be much different. This afternoon, I write.  I swear. I will write and write and write. And not just any writing: dissertation writing. At 1 pm ET, I will sit in my chair, and work on my dissertation. This is probably the hardest part of being a graduate student, archaeology or otherwise, is writing every day. Today’s subject will be outlining a theory section, which makes it even more painful to think about. The subject of my dissertation are two slave quarters in Southern Maryland, one of which was occupied until the 1950s.The theory is a look at communities, agency, and social relations. It will be loads of fun…

The GreenLeafe: Local Archaeologist watering hole since....well, forever.

Fortunately, my day ends with every archaeologist’s favorite past time: Happy Hour (I am convinced that Day of Archaeology was scheduled on a Friday to ensure that there would be blog posts about beer). This evening is a special happy hour, in fact. Not only will I visit the local bar to share a beverage with my friends from the Colonial Williamsburg Digital History Center (the majority of whom are archaeologists, in fact), but this evening I will be saying goodbye to a fellow field tech from the James River Institute for Archaeology, a local CRM firm that I have been working part time for over the past few months (grad students need to pay the bills). He is heading off to graduate school, himself, and there is no better send-off then some beers with archaeologists at the GreenLeafe.

Happy Day of Archaeology everybody!