Who we are

The Lost Towns Project is a team of professional archaeologists and historians, working closely with the government of Anne Arundel County, Maryland to discover and explore the County's rich heritage. The team is committed to sharing the discovery process of this incredible heritage with the public through hands-on experiences, publications, lectures, and exhibits. In this blog, we will share some of our exciting discoveries, updates, and events. Check out our website at www.losttownsproject.org for much more, or to learn how to become a volunteer or intern! No experience is required to assist us in field investigations, laboratory studies, archival research, and interpretive programs. Join us to rediscover the History in your own backyards!

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Summer 2013 Intern Experience (So Far!)

Hi All! It's been almost a year since we last blogged, but I asked the 2013 summer interns if anyone would like to write a post about their experiences. Pepper Mankey submitted this entry about her internship (so far). Pepper is about to graduate with her B.A. in Anthropology from University of Maryland and is getting 6 field school credits with this internship.  This requires her to put in over two months of time with us, but as you can read below, she's getting a lot out of our program!  -Stephanie

What I have learned (so far) from interning at Lost Towns:
  • Don’t step on the edge of the unit.
  • If there is a cool artifact lurking an inch under the surface, [field director] Shawn’s spidey sense will alert him, and he’ll magically take over in a “teaching moment” and be the one to find it.
  • Mapping is a laborious process, but a year later when you’re trying to sort out the paperwork, it is a lifesaver.
  • Did I mention not to step on the edge of the unit?
  • The thrill the first time you discover something in the water screen, the dry screen, or the dirt you’re troweling through cannot be described.  It’s amazing.
  • The kinds of people who sort their M&M’s by color before eating them would love doing lab time, sorting and rebagging the artifacts.
  • Fieldwork creates some of the most interesting tan lines.
  • Seriously.  Don’t step on the edge of the unit.
In my internship (so far!) at the Lost Towns project, I have acquired sunburns, blisters, aching muscles, stained-beyond-redemption clothes, new calluses, aching joints, and nicely toned arms. I have also gotten to spend time with one of the most amazing groups of people I’ve ever had the privilege to learn from and spend many happy hours in idle conversation with. I’ve learned how to draw a planview, (but not yet a profile), how to map a unit, and (theoretically) how they dig shovel test pits. I’ve also learned to use dryer sheets, of all things, to repel mosquitoes and that my trowel needs to be sharpened regularly. Of course, I’ve learned how to trowel in clay and in sand, two very different mediums that require some pretty knack-y techniques, and how to excavate a feature as opposed to a strata, and the difference between an “arbitrary” level (excavated in tenths of feet) and a “natural” stratum (following the soil colors). I have gotten my eyeballs up on how to actually look at soil colors, something I never really thought about before in practice, having only learned the theoretical applications in school (and it’s a whooooole different ballgame in the field.)

This has been one of the greatest experiences of my archaeology-student career. Having spent many, many hours in labs doing sorting, labeling, cataloging, data entry, and analyzing, I was starting to get pretty bored with the whole lab-only aspect. However, interning at Lost Towns has been my first field-work experience and I was astonished at how much I have fallen completely in love with it from the very first day! Every artifact discovered has been a visceral thrill, and every mistake made (and I have made plenty) has been a learning experience.

I can’t say that I have a favorite moment. What I do have, however, is a favorite artifact: the first one that I ever touched. It was my first day on the dig at Pig Point, and I was waterscreening. Whilst pounding gallons of water through thick black dirt, I came upon an incised potsherd. It was absolutely beautiful. Incised with lines and dots, I was astonished at the pure beauty of this piece, despite being only a small portion of the pot. At that moment, pulling this bit of pottery out of the dirt in the screen, I knew I had found where I wanted to be….. reclaiming this knowledge, history, and humanity from the depths of the earth. I knew I had discovered the reason I had spent all those hours in classes. It was to bring the past back into the present and make it relevant.

I was told later that it was a portion of carved pipe. That fascinates me, to think of some prehistoric person smoking on this pipe, just as many people do today, and to ponder what they thought about, prayed for, yearned for while this pipe was smoked. What did they dream about? What did they smoke for; pleasure, or ceremony? The mind boggles at the million possibilities.

And that’s why I love it.

Pepper's Carved Pipe Fragment from Pig Point

Pepper Hard at Work

No comments:

Post a Comment