Archaeology Blog

2023 Field School Week 6

By: Alyssa Moorman

Week 6 has come to an end, and the Poplar Forest Archaeology Field School 2023 has officially been completed. The week started with a lecture on Industrial Slavery. The lecture highlighted the use of slavery in industrial settings, even in northern states. Enslaved laborers working in industrial settings often did so either on plantations or were hired out from plantations to industrial complexes- a dynamic with which many students were unfamiliar.

Students and staff worked diligently in the field to wrap up excavations before week’s end. Some notable finds included horseshoes, glass marbles, a pipestem, and a writing slate.  The archaeological work being conducted around the 1857 Slave Dwelling is not complete, but significant progress was made over the last six weeks in anticipation of the stabilization of the structure. Students and staff took a final walkthrough to recap the ten units and the understanding each has contributed to the interpretation of this space and its use over time.

The week concluded with student presentations. These presentations covered topics relating to the presence of  birds and gullet stones, ceramic maker’s marks and decorative patterns, alcohol bottles and consumption, horseshoes, and children’s marbles. Each topic related to artifacts found during this year’s field school and presented a brief interpretation of their use and significance at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.

Featured photos include a final “fun day” group photo of staff and students, a student presentation on ceramics, and a look at this year’s excavated units.