By: Gill Batt
This week, field school started with a tour of Monticello on Monday. The group listened to a lecture and toured the house along with the grounds. The lecture given by Fraser Neiman, the Director of Archaeology at Monticello, was on the geoarchaeology of Monticello, specifically analyzing the Paw Paw Valley site. After the lecture, the group toured the lab and the main level of the house, and stopped by several sites associated with an overseer’s house and slave dwellings.
Back at Poplar Forest, those that stayed behind picked up digging the newly opened easternmost unit behind the 1857 Slave Dwelling. A .22 caliber bullet casing was found while screening the soil from the unit along with a few nails and glass. While it was the first time I saw a casing like this, they are apparently a frequent find where we have started to dig.
While Monday went well, the rest of the week was spent primarily inside due to the rainy weather. Our mornings started with multiple lectures on the Archaeology of Slavery and another presentation on Zooarchaeology and Foodways. The rest of our days were spent in the lab washing, sorting, bagging, and labeling artifacts. It was nice to see some of our finds from the field all cleaned up and actually looking like objects rather than the dirty blobs we dig up sometimes. Although Friday started with rain, the weather cleared up by the afternoon, and for the first time this week, we were actually able to go outside and check on our units. While some units were a little muddy, everything seemed to remain intact and ready to dig. I was excited to continue our work on the units this past weekend and celebrate Public Archaeology Day with all those who were willing to come out and work with us!