Friday, May 21, 2010

Summer Happenings

Over the next few weeks, the gang will close up excavations at the Swann House at Port Tobacco and focus on Burch House. Predictably, the deposits at Burch are complex and extensive. I hope to have a summary of finds at Swann House by the end of June...I'm a little less certain on how long it will take to figure out Burch House.

Two of my Stevenson University students will join the team in June. Each must complete an internship to fulfill requirements for a Public History major. More about them in a couple of weeks.

Today the GAC crew worked on a small project in Anne Arundel County...a badly damaged 19th-century house site. We had little hope to recover anything of interest at the outset, and a day of intensive testing has done little to alter that assessment. If anything changes, you'll read about it here.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

The crew worked at the Burch House today. We have successfully uncovered the foundation to the Burch House addition. It measures about 12 ft by 12 ft.

The foundation rests on top of fill and naturally formed deposits. The lowest layers have produced large quantities of bone and 18th-century artifacts that are wholly unconnected to the much later deposits created by Washington Burch and his family from the 1860s to circa 1900.

This Saturday, in front of the court house, we will have a public lab day during which we will wash the 18th-century material, as well as the later artifacts. All welcome, 9 AM to 3 PM, rain or shine. (We'll work indoors if it rains, but that seems unlikely, at least until the afternoon.)


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pocket Piece

As you may or may not have guessed from our punny clues yesterday, we have a pocket watch. Pieces of the device were found in Unit 83, which is inside the foundation of the Swann House. It was probably part of the trash and debris that was pushed into the basement by earth-moving equipment. Only the lid and 3 pieces of inner gears were recovered, but the lid has an 'R' scratched into it with another indistinguishable letter next to it .

Pocket watches were invented around the 16th century. The earliest models were square and somewhat larger than later circular ones. In the 17th century clockmakers became artists with distinct designs and signed their watches. In the last half of the 18th century the use of three hands became the industry standard, making telling time considerably more accurate. In the 19th century the manufacture of pocket watches was industrialized. The winder knob at the 'top' of the watched was also introduced around this period. After World War I, and the advent of wristwatches, pocket watches fade from popularity.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Watch Out....Gear we come!

While Kelley is off on vacation, Anne and I have been busy washing and cataloging artifacts from both the Burch House and the Swann House. Volunteers at the 1st Market Day in Port Tobacco last weekend washed several large bags of artifacts for us to catalog so we have had plenty to do. And with upcoming dig days on Thursday and Saturday (weather depending of course), we will have much more to do.

There have been several interesting pieces from each excavation site that we will discuss this week. If you were out at the dig site last week you undoubtedly heard lot of "oohs" and "ahs" from the screeners.

Once we have them catalogued and photographed we will share our finds with you.

Here's a hint on one of them to whet your's a personal item that can both be worn and wound. It can be both a status symbol and utilitarian.

Stay Tuned...

- Peter and Anne

Monday, May 17, 2010

News Break: Because of continued rain, we will not be working at Burch House tomorrow. We will return Thursday.

This past Saturday the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco held a fundraiser called Market Days at which a number of vendors sold antiques, books, and food. The project ran an all day outdoor lab, washing the material recovered the previous week from one of our excavation units at the Burch House. I hope everyone who came out the Port Tobacco enjoyed themselves. A lot of washing was completed and we will be out there again for the next 4 Saturdays.

While at the event, local resident Kay Volman (Chimney House) mentioned that she had just installed a new water line through her back yard. The trench encountered a concentration of brick and metal. Could this be the elusive Atzerodt Carriage Shop? We hope to check it out next week.

We plan to be back at Port Tobacco digging on Thursday, weather permitting.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Note from the Editor

Dear Readers:
Beginning Monday, 17 May 2010, we will begin posting on this blog on a regular basis, Monday through Friday. While our readers can expect many of the postings to be about Port Tobacco, I have decided to broaden coverage to the many kinds of projects that the crew undertakes each week. Port Tobacco is not our full time job, and we often encounter things on other projects that I think will interest readers.

In the past, we have occasionally blogged on non-Port Tobacco projects. These departures will now be a regular feature.

Also, I expect to post occasional editorials in lieu of the latest research findings. Some of these may irk, some may inspire; I hope all will encourage our readers to carefully consider what archaeological and historical research and interpretation have to offer our society. These opinions will represent the views of management.

As always, we look forward to reading your comments, so don't be bashful. If you have difficulty negotiating the commenting process built into the blog, simply e-mail your comment to me (see below) and I will post it. As always, we expect civility and decorum and reserve the right to withhold publication of comments that I deem offensive or off topic.

Jim Gibb