Friday, July 16, 2010

2010 Penn State Archaeological Field School: In Search of Fort Shirley

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.

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

1 comment:

  1. Its about time there is some interest for the
    people that lived here before 1800.I think I am
    the only person here that does the French and Indain War Reenactment.This place has a wealth of history.Back in the 1980s I tried to interest an archaeologicl dig at that site.I was told it wasnt worth it.I even tried to have the Historical Marker reenstalled after it was knocked down but that was a dead end to.
    In all of my study of that time,I find the little discoverys are very important.