Friday, September 9, 2011

Water, Water, Everywhere!

W is for Well, Workshops, Water, and WEATHER!

Well at Fort Hunter at the end of field season.

We resume the alphabet this week with the letter W and our focus is on the well at Fort Hunter. We intend to continue excavating the well that was discovered during excavations in 2009. We will be bisecting the well and removing the west side, the goal is to remove another six feet. Last season we removed the top six feet of the well which was primarily ash and coal cinder. We are hoping that this fill represents a later occupation and fill event than the fort. We are optimistic that we will find military artifacts dating to the forts occupants. Excavations at other French & Indian War Period sites have revealed a pattern of construction that includes a well within the walls of the fort. If we are able to date the well to the fort time period, it will help solidify the location of the fort.

                   Excavation map of Fort Loudoun, near Chambersburg. Note the well in lower left   
                        corner, inside the stockade line.

The soils surrounding the well date back 3,000 to 4,000 years, based on pottery and prehistoric projectile points. The presence of fire cracked rock suggests there was a Native presence and that the rocks were heated. Research of similar hearth features points to their use for cooking and processing of foods. Additional testing and research is required to fully analyze this feature.

Fire Cracked rock feature near the well.

We are also investigating a feature on the side yard of Fort Hunter Mansion and Park which we are interpreting as a possible road.  Excavations in this area will be expanded to aid in this interpretation, but the grooved rocks and tracks pictured in the image below are a good indicators of this activity.  Do we dare say Wagon Wheels in keeping with our W theme?

      Possible path or road feature, note the water standing in grooved "tracks".

All of these plans are on hold until the weather cooperates. This brings us back to another W word- Weather… Due to the extreme precipitation and flooding, our excavations at Fort Hunter are delayed. We’re ready for the rain to stop so we can roll up our sleeves, break out the shovels and trowels, and go to work!

Finally, W is for Workshops. On Saturday November 5, 2011, The State Museum will be holding its Annual Workshops in Archaeology Program. This year the topic is Native American Archaeology in the Commonwealth. There are nine different classes being offered as well as a PowerPoint on Forensic Archaeology and a Flint Knapping Demonstration. Participants may select to attend four classes from an available eight sessions. Topics include the Paleoindian Period, Archaic, Woodland and finally the Contact Period. The day will begin at 8:30 for late registration, followed by opening remarks. Bring in your artifacts for identification by archaeologists and don’t miss an opportunity for a behind the scenes tour of the State Museum Archaeology Laboratory.

The Workshops will wind down with closing comments by Dr. Dean Snow entitled “The Contribution of Pennsylvania Archaeology to Our Understanding of Past Cultural Behavior and Directions for the 21st Century.” A wine and cheese reception will close out the day and provide an opportunity for reflection and discussion of the presentations.

Look for a link to the brochure and registration information next week- but mark your calendars today for November 5th, 2011.

Thanks to our intern from Elizabethtown College, Maggie Keefer for helping to write the blog this week!  Look for more information on Maggie and intenships in a future blog.

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

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