by Georgia Delamar
Public archaeology was the topic this week for field school students at Poplar Forest. The students were able to gain first hand experience in public archaeology during the Independence Day Celebration. Visitors stopped by the Braxton archaeological site to ask questions and watch the students dig. Children seemed most interested in screening and finding artifacts. Field school students showed some artifacts to the guests, including glass, nails, and a button, which were all found that week.
The students went on a field trip to Mount Vernon on Thursday, where they were able to visit the slave burial ground currently being excavated. This archaeological site is visible to the public and there are plaques erected to commemorate those who are buried there. Students also visited the “Lives Bound Together” slavery exhibit at Mount Vernon. They were able to see and experience the emotion inspired by artifacts, living testimony, historical documents, and images. The students witnessed living history, as well. This can add to the experience of a historical site by giving visitors a glance into life in a specific time period.
Public archaeology allows for people to make their own interpretations based on archaeological evidence. The aim for public archaeology is not only to inform, but also to provoke. The students have learned that it is important to raise the awareness and peak the curiosity of the visitors so that they may care and want to contribute in some way to the field.