Friday, September 30, 2011

This wet week in Pennsylvania Archaeology

                                               Fort Hunter Tavern, September 12, 2011

This seems to be a repeated theme for us these days, but with record rainfall amounts in Harrisburg it is difficult to complete our excavation plans. So the word for the week is RAIN, depsite this we had some terrific events at the The State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Our exhibit cases were finished  by our master craftsmen in the shop and we installed about 175 artifacts in beautiful new cases. The Fort Hunter exhibit opened in our gallery at The State Museum just in time for our annual Archaeology Month in Pennsylvania which begins tomorrow October 1st. This exhibit provides the visitor with an opportunity to view artifacts from the past five years of excavations at the fort. We also have on display a bucket recovered from the well at Fort Loudoun, another French & Indian War period site located near Chambersburg, PA.

  Fort Loudoun bucket prior to conservation.    
    After conservation treatment.  

 Many of the visitors to our excavations at Fort Hunter want to know what we have found and this exhibit provides an opportunity to learn about what we have ascertained from our findings. The exhibit text follows the methods employed to identify the site, the actual excavations and then the analysis which is conducted after we return to the lab. Preliminary analysis of faunal remains provided a glimpse of the diet of soldiers stationed at Fort Hunter and an opportunity to compare daily life there with other French & Indian War period forts.

Visitors enjoying the new Fort Hunter exhibit.

Our first visitors to the exhibit were students attending Homeschool Day at the museum. This annual event provides educational programming throughout the museum for students and teachers, and has become a popular event. Some of the programs included were planetarium shows, guided tours of the galleries, and mini-lessons from State Museum Curators. Janet Johnson conducted sessions on archaeological techniques and how archaeologists apply these methods in excavating Pennsylvania sites.

   Home School Day participants gather near the statue of William Penn.

Excavations are continuing at Fort Hunter and while progress keeps getting interrupted by torrential downpours, we are managing to continue with our project. The ditch area in the front yard continues to puzzle us. The deep fill deposit continues to produce historic and prehistoric artifacts, but since their provenience is disturbed they provide little information in our attempt to understand the activities of the site.

A large fire-cracked rock area adjacent to the well is being mapped and recorded so that we can begin to remove the soils surrounding the well. We don’t want to destroy this large feature when we start excavating further on the well next week. We are counting on the forecast of a dry week and hopefully we will have better weather for the weeks to come.

Fort Hunter is open on Sunday, October 2nd for Indian Festival Day. This annual event is popular with young and old alike and features Native American foods, and lifeways. Our staff will be there, including Kurt Carr who will demonstrate the atlatl.  This is a an opportunity for you to try your hand at this early hunting method. So come on out and enjoy the day! For more information visit the link here for Indian Days

Registration is open for the Workshops in Archaeology and the forms are starting to flow in, don't wait to register as some sessions will fill up fast. Here is the link for the registration form.

For more information, visit or the Hall of Anthropology and Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania .

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