Today we started the first day of our summer fieldwork. The site we are researching this summer is a small neighborhood on the edges of the coal company town of Lattimer, Pennsylvania. We think it was occupied between about 1880 and 1940 by Eastern European laborers who worked in the mines at Lattimer.
We identified it last summer while doing archival research in the company records of the Lattimer Coal Company. (See blog about this research here) Looking through historic maps, we noticed a portion of the town with small, closely-built houses tightly grouped around a road at the end of Canal street in Lattimer. (see image below) When we visited the site area last November, we learned that though the buildings no longer exist, signs of a busy life on Canal Street can be seen in the landscape of the site.
We spent the day learning about basic archaeological surveying techniques, before starting on a round of shovel tests. Shovel tests are a basic field method for learning about the landscape of the site. We also tried to connect the many depressions and brick and stone features at the site to the many evolving structures we can see on our map collection. This round of surveying will help us plan our next stage of work, as we concentrate our excavations on a particular household or set of households.
A surprising number of artifacts came out of the ground today. We found evidence of children in the form of marbles and a tiny lead horse. We also found a graphite pencil lead. Numerous building materials we found will help us understand what these structures once looked like. The animal bones we found will eventually help us reconstruct the diet of the residents.
We will post again tomorrow with experiences from the students and visitors that come to the site. Keep in touch!