During June and July, Fort Frederica National Monument usually hosts an archaeology dig. Archaeology students from universities come and dig. We also host three weeks of archaeology camp for middle school students.
This year the pandemic has thrown a wrench into the works. We did not get approval to host the archaeology education camps. Most of the colleges did not want their students coming. We are offering a distance learning archaeologist program as a substitute. But Rangers Casey and Michael, our resident archaeologists, couldn’t let the summer go by without doing some digging.
Ranger Michael decided we would excavate the Sinclair Tavern. Because Frederica is so well documented, we know exactly where each house is and who lived in each house. But one house foundation looks pretty similar to another, so most of them haven’t been excavated. And, if you have 100,000 broken pieces of pottery, you don’t really need 1,000 more. Ranger Michael tries to learn a little more every year, even if he covers the excavation back up when he is through.
We erected a tent over the site in February, then last week Ranger Michael started digging. I think he enjoyed getting sweaty and dirty and working off some of the frustrations of his job. He dug and volunteers and other rangers helped sift. After two days he had two nice holes and two large piles of dirt. He also had lots of pieces of pottery, a button and a coin.
Rangers Matt and Casey would rather work on the archaeology dig than man their assigned posts in the Visitors Center. Ranger Casey’s degree is in archaeology, so it is especially hard for him to stay away. Tom and I tried to give both of them a chance to help with the dig when we could.
Lots of people stop by to ask what is going on. People are very interested in “uncovering history.” Ranger Michael even has lots of people who volunteer to help. Visitors who are ready to dig in the dirt with him right then! It would be fun to be able to incorporate them, but it might not meet Michael’s rigorous standards.
Seeing a little bit of the archaeology dig before we go has been very interesting. It is nice to see Ranger Michael in his element.