J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Archeology Lectures Coming Up Next Week

October is Archeology Month in Massachusetts, and here are a couple of free lectures related to the archeology of the eighteenth century. (That state website lists several others as well, but these two caught me eye.)

On Tuesday, 16 October, at 7:00 P.M. Boston City Archaeologist Joe Bagley will speak at the Bunker Hill Museum in Charlestown on “The Archaeology of Charlestown: Boston’s Little Pompeii.”
The presentation will focus on the sites discovered at the Bunker Hill Monument, and Bunker Hill Community College, and the Central Artery Project. Several Native American sites, a Native American village, John Winthrop’s 1629 Great House, and numerous important structures burned in the Battle of Bunker Hill will all be discussed. Joe brings an expert knowledge of the entire human history of Boston to the City Archaeology Program based on a decade of archaeological fieldwork on Native American and Historic archaeological sites.
The Charlestown Historical Society, the Friends of City Square Park, and the city of Boston are sponsoring this event. I guess the “Pompeii” analogy is because Charlestown’s main settlement burned during the battle, which wasn’t great for preserving all sorts of artifacts but does provide a clear before-and-after date for anything found there.

Two days later, on Thursday, 18 October, at 6:00 P.M. Alicia Paresi, a Curator of Archeology Collections for the National Park Service, will speak at Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters in Cambridge on “Did These Bottles Belong to George Washington?”
Recent excavations in the basement of this Georgian mansion resulted in the discovery of unusual deposits of historical artifacts and well-preserved biological material held together by a mortar and sand mixture. [A sample appears in the photo above.] Most of the artifacts are pieces of wine bottle glass, including several bottle necks retaining the original corks. When and how was that unusual feature formed, and what does it reveal about life in Cambridge at the end of the eighteenth century. See a slideshow of the artifacts and decide for yourself: Did Gen. George Washington drink from some of those wine bottles when he used the house in 1775-76?
Washington and his staff did buy a lot of wine, and two Caribbean French merchants sent some more in December 1775. On the other hand, the man who expanded and refurbished the house in the 1790s, apothecary and real-estate investor Andrew Craigie, was known for entertaining.

To reserve a seat for that lecture, please call 617-876-4491 or email Ranger Rob Velella. This event is sponsored by the National Park Service and the Friends of Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters.

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