Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 2 - Survey of Greene County

The overwhelming popular conception of archaeology is excavation: the archaeological dig. But much of archaeology, including much of archaeological field work, involves other investigatory techniques. One of the most important of these is survey.

Dr. Sampeck confers with the students on map locations for some sites to be reviewed during today's survey.

Today the field school students learned about this research method. After a misty morning following a night of rain showers, we undertook a focus site survey of Greene County, Tennessee. A focus survey is one common form of archaeological survey, in which orally-transmitted stories, written documents, or other evidence suggests that archaeological remains might be found at a particular location, either through description of such remains, or discussion of previous human habitation or activity at that place.

Much of the morning was shrouded by mist and clouds, eventually burning off by mid-day.

Students noting the landforms, and surrounding countryside near a potential archaeological site

The distribution of human settlement from the period of contact between Native Americans and Europeans was compared with that during later centuries of English and post-Revolutionary colonization and settlement.

Investigating the area near a known contact-era site

Social, economic, ecological, and geological differences between the societies of these periods produced different cultural landscapes. Amongst settlement evidence examined today were the remains of old roads, difficult to discern through trees and undergrowth. Roads are a vital part of human geography, and an important indicator of political and economic ties and situations.

A roadway sunken into the landscape by years of travelers and their vehicles and animals. The slight concave shape of the land between the trees framing this image shows the road.

On the other hand, we received permission to investigate and explore the Earnest Fort House, a well-preserved structure first built in the late 18th century.

The Earnest Fort House, built about 230 years ago.

This structure, one of the oldest in Tennessee, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Earnest Farms Historic District. The architecture of the house is very clearly derived from the Georgian style, but examination of wallpaper, including newspaper from the end of the 19th century used as wallpaper base as well as mid-20th century wallpaper, demonstrates how a site, a building, or an artifact can have a complex life history.

The students documented some of the newspapers built into the walls of the house about a century ago.

This paper was printed on May 6, 1899. The oldest date we could discern was from 1895.

Some appropriate words on past and present, in an old advertisement for pianos

We may not have found ceramics, but at least we found an advertisement for sets of ceramics.

Graffiti helps us understand when these surfaces were in their current condition.
This inscription dates to 1943.

Project members look concerned about the roof of the attic.

The field school includes a lab component on a daily basis. Today the students examined pottery, and compared specific attributes of surface treatment, paste and body construction, as part of a larger discussion of classification and typology in archaeology.

No comments:

Post a Comment