Friday, September 7, 2012

2012 Excavations at Fort Hunter Begin

2012 Kipona festival pow-wow on City Island

Labor Day weekend is traditionally considered the end of summer since it is time to go back to school, days are getting shorter and stores are full of Halloween decorations. It also marks the beginning of a season full of public programming for the Section of Archaeology at The State Museum.  Our kick-off event is Harrisburg City’s Kipona Festival on City Island.  This event features the dug-out canoe and artifacts from the excavations conducted on the island. We are invited to attend by the Native American Pow-Wow organizers who provide a space large enough to handle our twenty foot canoe and exhibit.

Brad Miller and youngster trying their hand at flint knapping

The dugout canoe is always popular with young and old, including their pets.  Here are a few of the shots taken over the course of the three day event.  The soggy pictures on Monday have become a tradition, although the rains were not as heavy this year.

a soggy Monday afternoon

 our dugout has gone to the dogs

The dugout came back to the museum for a short rest before it travels to Cabela’s in Hamburg, Pennsylvania on October 21st.  If you missed the opportunity to see it at Kipona, here is your next opportunity to sit for a Kodak moment.  We dried out our equipment and began the process of loading up for our excavations at Fort Hunter Mansion & Park.  Our first day at the site (36Da159) was Wednesday, September 4th.  The excavation block from last year was not back filled as in previous years; instead it was strategically covered in black plastic with shoring and braces to support the walls.  We weren’t sure what to expect when we removed the plastic, but were pleasantly surprised at how well this system had worked.  Thanks to the staff at Fort Hunter for their assistance in installing this system.

main excavation block with bracing system

We are diligently working at preparing the site for excavations this year.  We have surveyed and set the grid.  Installed a new line of posts to allow for additional units at the north end of our excavation block, and checked our datum points to insure that our measurements are accurate and consistent with previous excavation records.  All of this prep work is necessary and has to be done before we can remove that first bucket of dirt.

Our clean-up process involves scraping and straightening the walls of our units and stabilizing any areas that have slumped or washed out. The first part of the exercise was removing large stone slabs of a sidewalk that were threatening to collapse into the unit.  With strong arms and backs the slabs were moved and the west side of the unit secured. Yesterday was a productive day with an added bonus of two projectile points.  One from the south wall and one from the east wall of our block.

main excavation block with well feature in the center

The well survived the winter fairly well and we are cleaning up areas that were undercut by rain both last fall and this summer.  Excavation of the well shaft can’t proceed until this process is finished and the surrounding walls and floor scraped.  All of this is leading up to our first public event at Fort Hunter next Sunday, September 16th, Fort Hunter Days.  We hope you can come out and enjoy the festivities at the park and view our excavations.  We will be on site, weather permitting, Monday –Friday (9-4:30) through October 12th and the public is invited to stop by and ask questions.
We are taking a break from the archaeology by county tour until after our public programs are complete- sorry Fulton County!  We should be back on our tour sometime in November, until then we hope you will follow us on our blog and come out to some of the events we will be providing this fall.

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

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