Saturday, November 29, 2008

St. Nicholas Campaign

I have been finishing up the latest of our Port Tobacco reports (more on that tomorrow), but for a change of pace I went back out to St. Nicholas Cemetery at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. Scott and I, ably assisted by the youngest Lawrence--Doug--recovered a record breaking 15 monuments, not including footstones. About half of them need repairs. Hopefully our experience at St. Nicholas will be useful in estimating the level of effort needed to restore the 19th-century cemetery at Port Tobacco if we ever have the opportunity. As our readers might recall, St. Nicholas cemetery was purposely buried by the US Navy. The second of Port Tobacco's three cemeteries was buried by sediments. While the causes are different, we expect the results to be the same.

Given the present rate of recovery, we hope to finish at the Naval air Station by the end of next year.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Website Returns

In late October of this year, the GAC website ( succumbed to technical difficulties. Our learned colleague, Dionisios (Dio) Kavadias, on holiday leave from his graduate studies at the University of Virginia, has been working on it all day and has repaired most of it. Dio set up the site for me in 2005.

There is still quite a bit of content for me to upload to the site, and I'll do it as soon as I can. This blog, however, will continue to serve as the principal voice for the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project. Over the winter we expect to make significant improvements, both in format and content, to the project's web presence. All such improvements will be announced in this space.

Echoing April's blog yesterday, I wish all of our readers an enjoyable holiday. Got to run...the tofurkey is out of the oven.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to our crew, our supporters, and our blog readers!

Jim and I have been working on a Port Tobacco conference abstract this morning but I believe we are both thankful for the opportunity to conduct research that we believe in.

Enjoy the day!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Food for Thought

It is Thanksgiving Week and a guy's mind naturally turns to food. (I'm not a sports fan, otherwise I'd have two things on my mind, leaving little gray matter to devote to blog writing.) Over the past few years I've developed an interest in the variety of dietary patterns that must have existed throughout the Chesapeake region. Specifically, I've been interested in the differences between households along the Bay and its principal tributaries and those occupying upland areas. Certainly the availability of fish and shellfish was greater for those along the coast, while inhabitants of the uplands may have had greater access to game and certain wild plant foods. Certain cultigens also may have characterized the diets of uplanders.

Our work at Port Tobacco raises another dimension of dietary variability: the urban-rural continuum. How did the diets of Port Tobaccoans differ from those of their neighbors farther inland? With a heterogeneous population (Scots v. English, free citizens v. slaves, owners v. laborers), might we see differences in dietary patterns within town? And how might those patterns have changed over the course of 200 years?

Addressing these questions requires that we carefully excavate deposits that represent relatively short periods that we can date with accuracy and precision. We will have to recover bones and burned plant remains from past meals. And we will have to be able to relate those deposits to specific households, or at least to classes of households (e.g., wealthy merchant, tradesman, clergyman). A tall order, to be sure, but one I expect we will fill. Of course, we still need comparative data from other sites, and that material is not ready at hand. The quality of dietary data recovery and analysis for archaeological sites in the region can be much improved upon, but I'm hopeful.

For now, think about what you are eating, what your friends and neighbors are eating, and what those similarities and differences say about life and society in the early 21st century.


Monday, November 24, 2008

And the Plot Thickens...

As Jim mentioned yesterday, we have been in contact with one of our blog readers about Joseph Cocking and we have (as we've posted) come across some interesting information. Last week, we received some more. Our reader had this to say:

"I obtained the attached painting from an artist, Patricia Windrow, who said it was "Jordan's House" in Hilltop. She also said that a child living in the house had come out to watch her paint and confided that a woman was murdered in it. I paid no further attention to the story until an Aunt of mine, now deceased, recognized the house as the Jordan House and said that the man living in it killed his wife and was later hung at the Port Tobacco Bridge."

This is all very interesting information. Now we have to remember that this information came from a small child and an elderly aunt so we have to take the story with a grain of salt. However, in my experience, most familial stories come from some sort of truth, whether or not they have been elaborated upon.

What we ask of you, dear readers, is this. Does anyone recognize this painting? The house in it?
Has anyone heard of a house in Hill Top being called "Jordan's House"? The Jordan family? I will be looking through the land records and census data for a "Jordan" in Hill Top and see what I can come up with.

More on this as it comes...

- Peter

Sunday, November 23, 2008

No News

Sorry...we've got absolutely nothing to say today other than that we have nothing to say. Enjoy your weekend.