Friday, July 26, 2013 was the last day of the VCU field school at George Washington’s Boyhood Home in Fredericksburg, Virginia as well as the 2013 Day of Archaeology – how fitting!
Instead of starting the day off uncovering the site like we had been doing for five weeks, the field school students had a ceramics test scheduled for the morning. My classmates and I had been studying for weeks and testing ourselves with ceramic sherds found in the field. After the test, we were able to return to the field and help Ferry Farm interns profile the remaining walls. Over the course of five weeks, VCU field school students excavated a total of eight units in the southeast corner of the site. Each group was responsible for drawing their profile and completing their unit summaries before moving on to anything else. My digging partner, Lauren, and I had finished our profile the previous day and were focusing on our unit summaries on Friday morning.
After lunch, we went down to the Rappahannock River with our professor, Dr. Bernard K. Means, to throw rocks across the river, as is tradition. Unfortunately, no one made it across the Rappahannock but it was a fun activity nonetheless!
We returned to the site and I immediately began preparing to profile a test unit dug last year during the 2012 field season. That’s when Dr. Means came up to four of us and asked if we would like to begin mapping the area that field school students had excavated this year. I was thrilled! As a field school student, I had only expected to be digging this summer but thanks to the wonderful people at Ferry Farm we were able to get a bigger picture on what archaeologists do other than excavation, such as profiling and mapping. Vivian, another student, and I began mapping a portion of the 10 ft x 30 ft area that students had excavated. By the end of the day we had made it through four units and had mapped three features – an unidentified circular feature and two portions of Feature 13, a modern utility trench that runs diagonally (northwest to southeast) through the site.
By the end of the day only four of nine field school students (including myself) remained on site. As per tradition, the four of us signed our names on the giant toolbox housed in the northern half of the site along with our nicknames.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and work at Ferry Farm. The skills that my site director Laura Galke, archaeology professor Dr. Bernard Means and teaching assistant Ashley McCuistion have taught me will help me succeed as a professional archaeologist and the connections I have made with peers and professionals make me excited for the future. I cannot express in words how much I value my experience at Ferry Farm and how it has shaped an understanding of what it means to be an archaeologist.
-Mariana Zechini, VCU student.