Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sampling Military Sites

For those of you who caught Pete's blog yesterday, you were treated to one of those maps that looks like a heavily used dart board. Over the next few weeks we will look for patterns and, hopefully, make sense of the jumble of specks.

One readily apparent finding is that metal detecting proved to be a far more effective method for exploring the site than shovel testing. The latter approach, widely applied on all kinds of sites in the eastern United States, produced not a single military related artifact. Scott and I had the same kind of success at Antietam National Battlefield several years ago...shovel testing produced a few ceramic and glass sherds, but metal detecting revealed the distributions of various military artifacts; e.g., lead projectiles, artillery shell fragments, and equestrian hardware.

I suppose the important point here is that shovel testing on military sites--whether battlefields or encampments--should not be abandoned. It does recover important components of a military event that would be missed by metal detecting. Not all trash left in the wake of a unit derives from service-issued materials. Metal detecting is indispensable, but insufficient to understanding these kinds of sites.


1 comment:

April M. Beisaw said...

Can we take this conclusion a step further and say that shovel test pitting may be missing a huge amount of material at non-military sites. The metallic nature of the military artifacts gives us evidence in this case. What if we had a stone tool detector or a ceramic sherd detector or a bone detector? Are military sites different in their spatial distribution or are they just easier to critique?