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!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Story with the Lost Towns Project: An Intern's Perspective

Today's blog comes to us from Julia Hause, a summer intern out of Eckerd College in Florida.  Julia is a local girl who we first met last year working behind the counter at our lunch spot near Pig Point.  She decided to intern with us this summer, and we're so happy she took the time to blog about her 120 hour experience.  Thanks, Julia!   

Julia with a great find - a copper bead from Pig Point
My story with the Lost Towns Project starts with the small country deli up the street from Pig Point. If you have been to the site you may have had lunch there, which could possibly have been crafted by me! When I started at the deli last summer I told my boss how I just recently declared my undergrad Anthropology major, which was then followed up by the “What’s that?” question I get so frequently. As I was delving into the four subfields of Anthropology, archaeology came up as a topic and they briefly informed me of the dirty gang of people who show up every Tuesday and Friday for lunch ready to be fed. And just like they told me they would, the Anne Arundel County archaeologists showed up for lunch my first Friday shift. I didn’t know much about the Pig Point site at the time, but I was soon informed that the site was on family friend, Lisa and William Brown’s property. I had already gotten an internship and a job for that summer so I wasn’t able to get out to the site, but I anxiously waited for this summer to come around. So, the first week I was back from school this summer, I got in touch with the Browns and the Lost Towns Project volunteer coordinator, Jasmine, who directed me to the site that next Friday. Fortunately, my time with the project didn’t end with volunteering that day. Lost Towns has a rolling internship application and thanks to internship coordinator, Stephanie, I was able to concentrate my time into a wonderfully educational internship for the summer.

This was my first excavation field work experience and if I was to write all the things that I have learned over the past couple months, I don’t know if you’d ever leave this page. Having such a hands on experience in the field has allowed me not only to ask questions, learns skills and techniques, but to PRACTICE! All the troweling, feature excavating, plan view and profile mapping could not be taught only in a classroom. It takes getting out in the field and being exposed to all areas of archaeology more than once to get the practice to better skills and further knowledge and understanding of the site and archaeology as a whole.

Some things I didn’t expect to learn from my time in the field:
- Bags. Never have I seen so many plastic Ziploc bags in one concentrated area (but only because I’ve never been to a landfill). There are artifact BAGS, and BAGS for the artifact tags, and more BAGS depending on how the soil is screened and what is being found. There is a lot of plastic involved, but they are necessary to the process and I have noticed and participated in a significant amount of bag reusing and recycling which makes it more tolerable.

Many, many buckets of dirt from Pig Point units
- I saved money on a gym membership! Just imagine the workout you can get from working outside in the sun all day long, hauling buckets of dirt back and forth, lifting and dumping buckets, shoveling piles of dirt out AND back into the units...it’s exhausting! But it sure does make it feel worthwhile being so active and involved in a fascinating project.

- Lab work. I wasn’t too sure about lab work when I first started, simply because I love being outside and it was hard to fathom sitting indoors when we could be elbows-deep in a unit somewhere. But, I must say that I have enjoyed my time in the lab a lot! It’s really exciting to see the artifacts found in the field and then washing, rebagging and labeling them and knowing exactly where they were found on site and remembering what I learned that day about them.

- Short cleanup time. I love love love that everything stays relatively dusty and dirty. It makes cleanup so much faster! Which means more time spent in the field. I have learned something about myself by working at a restaurant and at the dig site simultaneously. I dislike excessive cleaning. Unlike a the deli, I don’t have to wash and sterilize every piece of equipment I use because it is most likely going to get even dirtier the next day. 

The beautiful Patuxent River marsh in summer
- My favorite and what I least expected was learning so much about the place where I grew up. There is an incredible amount of history, knowledge, and mystery that goes along with the Pig Point site and the area that surrounds it. One of the coolest things for me is the realization that the Native people who lived here thousands of years ago utilized the Patuxent River with its perfect location and fruitful biodiversity. Discovering and trying to understand their life here has made me appreciate where I live so much more. 

And now, it being the end of my internship, I just want to thank all the staff members of the project, all the interns and volunteers I met, and the Browns for all they have taken the time to teach me throughout this summer. Hope to be back soon!!