Week two is over! A tough week with a lot of hot weather. I think it was Tuesday that my team and I went to the courthouse in Pittsfield with Claire Martin to look at some records. We saw the original sale of the land transferred to Free Frank and also his original land plot. Some cool stuff. We then went into the basement and were looking at some old probate records and other documents. Wednesday another group went to the courthouse and so I was working on Block 12 with Dr. Terry Martin-another one of the leaders here. Despite dense artifacts found in shovel test pits, there were not a lot of artifacts found in these excavation units and by the end of the week they were closed up and finished. After a week of doing soil cores and plotting lots using both tapes and the total station, I was more than ready to reach the weekend.
On Saturday we drove to New Salem, a frontier town that only lasted about 10 years but is famous because Abraham Lincoln lived there during his early life. We got a special tour from archaeologist Rob Mazrim who talked to us about inaccuracies in the reconstruction and many other events that led to the development of this site for public use. One story included a previous archaeologist who had intentionally destroyed the feature of a tavern in an attempt to recreate the history for those in charge and to please those who were ‘certain’ the town looked a specific way. Rob was a great speaker and had a lot of interesting points to make about the goals of archaeology vs the goals of public consumption and other problems archaeology runs into when looking to recreate the past for those untrained in the discipline. Rob was very inspiring to me and possessed a very realistic view of the discipline and seemed genuinely interested in telling us the truth about the problems we run into and possible ways to solve them. Despite inaccuracies in the reconstruction of the town and the story it tells, it was an interesting experience and fun trip-although very hot, humid, and buggy.
It’s sunday now and I’ve been relaxing and reading and generally taking it easy-tomorrow starts another week of hard work.