Monday, September 17, 2012

Becoming “Official”

In 2011 we completed a shovel test pit survey of about 20 acres of woods, fields and lawn at French’s Tavern. We found hundreds of artifacts made and used from prehistory through to the 20th century. Two areas contained 18th-century artifacts that might date prior to the 1770s. We decided to do additional work at both sites in 2012. Although both were disturbed in the 20th century by logging or plowing, we thought that they still contained enough information to make them excavation worthwhile.

Over the winter we catalogued artifacts and mapped their distribution to determine rough boundaries for each site. In the spring we submitted site forms to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Their staff assigned a state site number to each site, which will serve as an official name for record-keeping and reporting. Following a system developed by the Smithsonian Institution in the 1940s and adopted nationally, each site is given a number that is coded with three sets of information. The site number begins with a numeric code for the state in which it is located. The states are numbered in alphabetic order, with 44 standing for Virginia. That two-digit code is followed by an abbreviation for the county in which the site is located (PO stands for Powhatan) and the final number of the code is  assigned based on a cumulatively numbered list of previous sites.  In this case, our sites are the 157th and 158th archaeological sites recorded in Powhatan, so they are now officially 44PO157 and 44PO158.

44PO157 is located in the field immediately west of French’s Tavern, the historic tavern and dwelling located near the eastern edge of the Indian Camp property.  Crystal Ptacek and Hope Smith supervised excavations there in 2012.

44PO158 is on a gentle slope above a spring that feeds Indian Camp creek. Brad Hatch and Lauren McMillan oversaw excavations there. Kathryn Gard, Rachel Guy, and Aaron Miller excavated both sites as field school students.

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