Friday, September 25, 2009

Fort Hunter Excavation Update

As the search for the French and Indian War period Fort Hunter continues new discoveries are made daily. As is so often the case with archaeology, these new finds pose more questions than they answer. While no structural evidence that can be definitively identified as belonging to the fort has been found, fort period artifacts are being recovered, such as fragments of tin-glazed earthenware, Whieldon ware and plain salt-glazed stoneware.

By far the most exciting find to date this season is that of a George I halfpenny dated 1724, recovered from what is being interpreted as the builder’s trench of the west wall of the ice house in the back yard of the mansion. Historic documents reference an ice house being built in 1794, however, the dimensions cited do not agree with the current structure. The halfpenny and mid-eighteenth century ceramics suggest this structure may be earlier than previously thought.

Additionally, it appears that the builder’s trench for the well feature intrudes into the ice house’s builder’s trench, indicating a later date of construction. The possibility of the well feature relating to the fort still exists, depending of course on the construction date of the ice house which is currently in question.

Further complicating the interpretation of the site, prehistoric finds continue to be made in the main excavation block. Feature 29 in particular, with the exception of two cut nail fragments has produced exclusively prehistoric material such as scores of chert, jasper and rhyolite debitage, as well as a dozen small fragments of quartz tempered, cordmarked ceramic sherds.

The excavation will continue for the next two weeks as part of the celebration of October as Archaeology Month in Pennsylvania. Sunday October 4th marks Indian Festival Day at Fort Hunter Park, and among the many activities and exhibits, archaeologists will be on hand to answer questions about the ongoing excavation. The dig site is open to the public, Monday through Friday 9 AM to 4 PM, and volunteer sheets are available for those wishing to assist us in our search for the fort at Fort Hunter Park.

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

1 comment: