Archeology Onsite: The Tovar House Chronicles, Week 4

So far, the dig at the Tovar House has allowed me to glimpse into the world of archaeology, a world (I’ll admit it) I’d only ever known through the Indiana Jones movies. I don’t know about you, but I never pass up the opportunity to learn more. There is something absolutely exhilarating about the acquisition of knowledge. While I’m by no means an overnight expert, I’m glad my understanding of this project is more nuanced than it was four short weeks ago.

I find myself returning, quite often, to what Sarah said the first week of the 2016 excavation–that maps are useful, but also limited ways of seeing the past and what life was like.
A musket ball, 2 bone buttons, a pin, and a ceramic glazed pip

A musket ball, 2 bone buttons, a pin, and a ceramic glazed pipe.

With that idea about maps reverberating in my head, I knew I had to learn–just a little bit more–of what that interrogation looked like in field. If not maps, then what are the other ways we learn about residents when there is so little textual evidence? How are things sorted? I’m always a girl with questions, and I’m not bashful.
Janet had been standing at a long, white table, bagging some items, and writing in a binder when I approached her. She walked me through the process of item collection.
Together, we made our way over to the screen. Small soil samples are brought to the screen to be washed. When the dirt falls away, remnants of the past remain. Janet explained these items are then sorted into different piles: Native American, glass, fish and bird bones, etc.
assorted pieces of ceramics

Assorted pieces of ceramics.

All of these items from a particular pile get a number corresponding to where the items were found in the excavation site. In the binder, Janet showed me that “all the FS, or field specimens, get a number” that corresponds to where the sample was pulled from, how far down in the excavation hole the items where located, what was found–things of that nature. It’s recorded in the binder, and bagged. The bags are lined up by FS number; everything is labeled and described, allowing for easier study of the objects.
These seemingly disparate fragments allow us to see a better picture of the Tovar House–of who lived there, and what they did. Recently, the Tovar crew uncovered an iron, pins, and bone buttons. The presence of these items suggests that the Tovar House may have been home to a tailor.
 Until next time.