Ray Sarnacki – My Day of Archaeology

This week, and for an additional two weeks in August, I have the privilege of digging as a volunteer at the Lake George Battlefield Park with Dr. David Starbuck as part of the State University of New York (SUNY) – Adirondack Campus field school. Located at the southern end of the lake, the Lake George Battlefield Park preserves the sites of major battles and encampments from the French & Indian War through the American Revolution, making it a prime site for conducting archeology. Many of the events that inspired James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohicans, actually occurred here. Among the features found in the Park are the ruins of a stone bastion from Fort George, which General Jeffery Amherst authorized and began building in 1759, but later, abandoned after the British took control of Fort Carillon, now known as Fort Ticonderoga.

Digging at this site is made possible through the cooperation of the New York State Museum and the agency that operates the park, the Department of Environmental Conservation. The overall objective of this multi-year dig at Lake George is to provide information that will allow the State to improve signage and create an interpretive center to house some of the artifacts uncovered, giving visitors a greater appreciation of the park’s historical significance.

This is second year I have traveled from West Chester, PA to dig at the Battlefield. Last year I dug several test pits in open areas within the park and wrote an article about the experience, Digging a Battlefield of American History, that Popular Archaeology published in their Winter 01/01/2015″>Winter 01/01/2015 issue. My assignment this year, along with five other volunteers, is to dig test pits inside the bastion ruins with the goal of defining the walls of a barracks located within the bastion. The assignment is somewhat tricky as we are working on a steep incline. In addition, reconstruction of part of the original bastion took place during the 1920s and 1930s, likely disturbing portions of the site and adding to its complexity. If we are successful in uncovering at least a portion of the wall, stabilizing it would create a new point of interest within the park for tourists to visit.