The archaeological dig on the Hill in Easton wrapped up digging for the season on Friday. On Thursday, I watched the University of Maryland and Morgan State archaeologists pull spoonful after spoonful of soil from the four active holes dug in the yard at the Talbot Women’s Club.
As the PhD students pondered the rusty colored soil, other students carefully scraped soil away from oyster shells sticking out of the edge of the “unit”. Searching for evidence of blacksmithing, perhaps, or other indicators of daily life in the late 18th century, this season’s finds included toys, pottery, metal, nails and a coin from 1794.
The care with which each artifact is pulled from the earth and examined is remarkable since there are so few clues to what life was like in the late 18th century. Even fragments of trash tossed in the yard so many years ago are precious to the scholars who are building these stories from the past.
Honestly, it made me want to go home and throw a bunch of stuff out into the yard…a key fob, some cds, maybe calculators and cigarette lighters, spatulas and an iPod – fodder for future archaeologists seeking to understand life in the early 21st century.
But of course… that would be ridiculous.
I’m a trash picker-upper, not an object flinger, (even if it would help future archaeologists.)
Yet the dig has affected the way I look at common everyday items – what would the items on my desk, for example, tell people in the future about our lives here today? (Here’s someone who spent a lot of time in front of a glowing rectangle – perhaps it was an altar, and the family worshipped around it…)
Interpretation is the true science and scholarship here.
It’s fascinating, and the archaeologists are presently back at the Universities, doing different levels of work on the project. We expect to hear more on an ongoing basis about life on the Hill, our Talbot County history.
Read my story about the dig here, on the Talbot Spy.