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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Monday, October 01, 2007

Massachusetts Archeology Month, 2007

October is Massachusetts Archeology Month. This year’s theme is “Don’t Let the Past Slip Away,” and this year’s poster shows five examples of ceramic slipware, including a milk pan, two chamber pots, a shard of a platter, and a porringer.

These artifacts were found on the sites of privies (outhouses) dug around a house in Charlestown built in 1629-30 for Gov. John Winthrop before he moved the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s capital across the Charles River to Boston. Later that structure became a tavern, as lots of large houses did. In 1775 it was called the Three Cranes Tavern. At the start of the Battle of Bunker Hill, the British military set fire to central Charlestown to drive away provincial marksmen, and all the buildings there burned down. I imagine that fire is clearly marked on the archeological record.

There are many archeology-related events around the commonwealth in October. Most concern periods other than the late colonial, but here are some that caught my eye.

Parallel Lives, Common Landscape: Artifacts from the Royall House and Slave Quarters
Weekends thru 28 October, 1:00 to 5:00 P.M.
The Royall House and Slave Quarters, 15 George Street, Medford
$7 Adults, $5 Students & Seniors, discounts available for groups

From 1999 to 2001, a full-scale archaeological dig on the grounds of the Royall House and Slave Quarters revealed thousands of artifacts from the Royall period (1732-1775). These help to illuminate the meanings of freedom and independence in the context of a household of wealthy Loyalists and enslaved Africans. This new exhibit features a selection of compelling objects, including rare physical evidence of the lives of those held in bondage by the Royalls.

The Archaeology of Kids
Sunday, 14 October, 2:00 P.M.
Boston Public Library, Copley Square, Children’s Room

Children in Massachusetts have been making and hiding and losing stuff (artifacts) for thousands of years. Come hear City Archaeologist Ellen Berkland talk about how kids show up in the archaeological record. Ellen will bring plenty of artifacts to see and a hands-on activity for the young ones. All ages welcome!

The Walls Did Talk! Come Hear What They Had to Say!
Sunday, 21 October, 2:00 P.M.
Blake House, 735 Columbia Road, Dorchester

Did you know that the oldest house in Boston is in Dorchester? Over the past year, the Blake House (ca. 1650) underwent an entire exterior renovation. During this reconditioning and stabilization project, many artifacts and structural anomalies were uncovered. The many curious finds have contributed rich details on the construction of this gem, the original builders, the 1890s restoration campaign, and over 350 years of occupants. Dorchester Historical Society President Earl Taylor and Architectural Historian and Preservationist John Goff will present an illustrated lecture on the above-ground archeology at the Blake House.
Check out the rest of the month’s offerings by date and by town through the Massachusetts Archeology Month website from the Secretary of State's office.

1 comment:

doug Fitch said...

Wow, those are some beautiful pots