Sunday, April 19, 2009

Planning is Time Consuming

The PTAP team has been pretty quiet for the last few weeks. Part of the reason is that we are in planning mode. It is amazingly time consuming to try to organize several phases of fieldwork, especially with Jim in Annapolis and I in Ohio.

Jim posted the event schedule for the ASM field session just a few days ago. That schedule took us almost a week to produce by itself. I have created several versions of an Excel spreadsheet entitled "The Plan" which lays out what areas of Port Tobacco that want to work on for each day of the ASM field session and the entire month of June. To create this I needed to estimate how long it will take us to excavate a unit in each area of the site. This is complicated by the fact that some areas of Port Tobacco have less than one foot of artifact bearing soils while others extend down for more than five feet. Anyone who excavated in the Wade House cellar last summer knows that it can take days to dig just one of those deep units, even with 10 people assigned to that unit.

Aside from the actual excavation, we are trying to allow time in our schedule to accommodate some special groups. There will be two large groups of high school students at Port Tobacco on May 28 and 29. This visit corresponds to the days that we will be continuing work on the Native American area of the site and we have invited members of the Piscataway Conoy Tribe to come work with us. Gabrielle Tayac, a Piscataway who works as a historian for the National Museum of the American Indian will visit Port Tobacco on the 28th and treat our volunteers to a lecture about Native culture and history in the region. We have also invited members of the African American Heritage Society of Charles County to come visit us while we excavate the home of James Swann, a free African-American who ran a tavern in Port Tobacco before the Civil War.

In addition to the more intellectual aspects of fieldwork, we have to deal with ordering Port-A-Johns, and installing temporary shower facilities at the site for the crew and for any volunteers who want to camp out at the site during the ASM field session to control costs. We need to acquire cooking implements and some food staples (can't BBQ without BBQ sauce!). We need to clean out the field house and get it setup to be home to the 8+ staff members who will be living there for 2 weeks and the interns and myself who will call it home for 5 whole weeks.

So, stick with us through the logistical downtime and you will be rewarded with field updates from 6 weeks of non-stop fieldwork.


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