When people picture Archaeologists, most people imagine some kind of Indiana Jones crawling out of a great pit carrying some amazing artifact. The truth of the matter is nothing like that. Though getting in the ground for a dig is definitely the highlight, what happens to the artifacts after they’ve been found is just as important. If everything isn’t documented and organized, you can forget where they came from, which means you might not know why they are important. Even the smallest piece of glass or teeny tiny fish bone has to be catalogued. So even though we all agreed that today would’ve been a great day to get out in the field, we followed our plan and worked in the “storage facility” today. The storage facility is basically a climate controlled room which has become a temporary office and artifact storage space all in one. So I spent my first day doing just that. Now some people, alright many people would think of that as boring, but it really isn’t. As you go through areas and layers of soil you see all of the amazing artifacts collected from each stored safely in the bags I have the honour to handle. Yeah I admit, the continuous bags of old brick can be pretty boring, but how often do most people get to hold beautiful Native American beads from the 17th century? It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
But…my day wasn’t done. Our last task of the day was scoping out a hotel meeting room for a conference that Fairfield is trying to make sure Gloucester can host. It’s a conference for a Virginia History group (there’s about a million) that Fairfield really wants to host here in Gloucester, which is full to the river banks that surround it with history. It was actually a Gloucester Chamber of Commerce meeting that we were visiting during, so I even met Congressman Rob Wittman, the representative from Virginia’s first district. It was an interesting experience, I was representing the Fairfield Foundation, but I also got quite a few questions about my school. Most of the people I talked to were very interested in Westtown, though one man thought that since it was a Quaker school that meant kids rode to school in their horse-drawn buggies, of course confusing the Quakers with the Amish. I tried to clear this misconception up, but didn’t have much luck, the man didn’t seem to quite understand.
Nevertheless it was a great first day! Tomorrow I’ll be working till about 9 pm because it’s Lab Night! Volunteers from all over the area and of all ages come to help wash and examine artifacts at our lab on the Rosewell Plantation property Visitor’s center. It’s from 6-9 pm and all are welcome, so if anyone is in the area you are welcome to come join. Directions are on the Foundation’s website.
~HopeLily Van Duyne