Tuesday, October 22, 2013

News from the World of Archaeology

By Sarah Vedrani

There are many more archaeological excavations going on RIGHT NOW all over the world. This week, I’ll highlight one going on at Colonial Williamsburg, in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg has a long history of archaeological work. Much of what is known about many of the site’s reconstructed villages comes from extensive archaeological research that has been conducted over the last several decades. With most new projects, an excavation is completed first to get the most accurate information on the site. Williamsburg’s Archaeological Research Division has recently completed a large project, and has already moved on to another.

The most recent excavation has been at the site of the Anderson Public Armoury. In 1776, blacksmith James Anderson became Virginia’s Public Armourer, meaning that his shop would produce various military supplies to Virginia troops. Six buildings have been reconstructed on the site-the armoury, a tin shop, a kitchen, a workshop, two storage buildings, and a privy-and their construction is based off information discovered during the excavation process, a multi-year project that was just completed in August of this year.

The Armoury’s official opening is in November, but the site has been open to visitors to Colonial Williamsburg since September.

Colonial Williamsburg’s current project is an excavation of part of an area of Market Square, which would have been the main center of town, and was used for military musters, public gatherings, protests, and a market house, which is the subject of current research and excavation. The market house was a large covered area where people would gather to buy and sell goods. There would also be an area set aside for the butchering of meat and the keeping of horses, as well as livestock meant to be sold.

It is this area that the team thinks they’ve uncovered, and not the original market house.

In the photos above and to the right, you can see some older exploration trenches, dating to the 1940s, 20th century drainage pipes (the site was the location of a church and parsonage in the 1920s-30s) and just how large this dig site is. The research team has had to expand the area based on the evidence they’ve found: post holes, all exactly eight feet apart. It is these post holes that have lead the tea to believe that they have uncovered the secondary area, and not the market house, because of the size of the site. So far, the site is sixty-four feet long and about forty feet wide; too large for a market house, but large enough to keep livestock. Their first goal was to reach the sub-soil, a point far enough down that there would be no artifacts, meaning that they had dug down to the point before human contact. Their new goal is to find out just how large an area they’re dealing with. Most of the artifacts found have been coins and small personal items that may have been dropped.

While there is no information currently online on this dig, there is a wealth of information on Williamsburg’s Research Division and past projects at:

There is also a blog that was kept during the Anderson Public Armoury Project at:

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