The 2010 field season project (May 17-June 25) was comprised of 14 PSU field school students instructed by Dr. Jonathan Burns who was assisted by the professional staff of AXIS Research, Inc., a non-profit research organization based out of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
The objective for the field school was to investigate the most probable location of Colonial era Fort Shirley [1754-1756] as evidenced by documents and maps.The site was also the homestead of well-known Irish-born trader and Indian Agent, George Croghan; with the Seneca Mingo settlement, Aughwick Old Town, located on the nearby floodplain of Aughwick Creek.
The project has brought together researchers and students from Penn State University, Indiana University, Juniata College, and beyond to take part in a truly interdisciplinary investigation of this culturally significant location.In addition to the field and lab work, the learning experience was supplemented with a field trip taken to Fort Ligonier and Fort Loudoun, a soil identification module instructed by Dr. John Wah, and two lectures on fort archaeology in Pennsylvania by Stephen Warfel.
After six weeks of excavation, Dr. Jonathan Burns and Dr. Paul Raber are convinced that they have located one of the fort's palisade walls and a nearby cooking feature. The linear palisade trench is over 95 feet in length, complete with evenly spaced post remnants. Period artifacts include: musket parts, lead balls and shot, English gun flints, Native American tinkle cone ornaments, copper projectile points, and glass trade beads.
The collection (16,424 cataloged artifacts) will be analyzed over the next year and a preliminary report produced before they go back for a second field season in 2011. This is one of the few Colonial Era sites in central Pennsylvania where Native Americans were living along with Provincial colonists, and it has produced important data and set the stage for continued investigation.