Archaeology Blog

Archaeological Field School Week 2

By Savannah Weaver

This week’s topic for the Field School students at Poplar Forest was material culture. Material culture deals with artifacts, landscapes, buildings, and even words, all of which have been shaped by humans as forms of expression. Artifacts tell us which items were commonly used in a specific time period, how they were used, and how people might have lived during that time. By observing landscapes and buildings, we are able to learn where people traveled, where they settled, and the various types of activity that took place around that area.


Throughout the week students learned about types of ceramics, glass, metals, and various miscellaneous artifacts. This week students had the opportunity to practice identifying these items both in the field and in the lab. Fragments from a glass bottle, small shards of window glass, an arrow head, and a piece of an iron skillet were found. Students also had a chance to spend some time in the lab learning how to clean the artifacts and how to take care of the more fragile items.

There have been a few developments throughout the week some of them positive and others disappointing. One of the units we had been excavating turned out to be something other than we hoped. While this was a disappointing discovery it gave us a chance to focus our attention on other key areas within the site. One of these areas was on the edge of the site. Numerous artifacts were found in the unit we were excavating. These artifacts could potentially be related to blacksmithing, however, at this stage it has not been proven. Other units have been equally intriguing and many fascinating items have been uncovered. We are positively and eagerly looking forward to what the coming weeks will uncover.