Today was another great day at the site. We continued our shovel testing and laid in a tight grid of stakes to prepare for our next phase, the test unit excavations. Having worked evenly across the majority of the site we learned a bit about the variation of artifacts, soils and deposits to be found across the site. I asked Lucas Daransky, who is working at the site this summer to write his thoughts:
Lattimer, at first glance, seems very similar to other small towns scattered across Pennsylvania. Quaint, quiet, and reserved, Lattimer seems to epitomize the small town life of Pennsylvania. Although all this is true, there is a deep rooted history that is shared by much of the residents here; that history is the coal mining industry. The site that the University of Maryland chose to investigate is an uncommonly pristine and preserved site. Much of the remnants of days gone by are still in the same resting place they were thirty, sixty, or even one hundred and fifty years ago. This is one of the best attributes of the Lattimer site, along with such a deep history rich in culture. On the first few days upon working at the Lattimer site, our group has begun to become acquainted with how life may have been in the days of old. Structurally, there are many remnants of buildings scattered throughout the site; ice houses, homes, and a few remains whose purposes are still unknown. Ice houses, situated towards the back of the neighborhood, are some of the intriguing buildings to me personally. These places are where families who lived here would have stored they milk, cheese, canned goods, and other perishables before there was electricity and refrigerators. To this day, frigid cold air flows out of the remains of these ice houses and cools the surrounding area. Already, in a few short days, some incredible discoveries have been unearthed that give an even deeper look into the daily lives of those that lived here before. Some of the artifacts that have been uncovered include marbles, pottery, clay smoking pipes, and buttons. These pieces by themselves may not say that much about the place but being that we have already found so many of them in only two days speaks volumes for the potential of the Lattimer site. It is a place where time has seemed to forget it, either by accident or because it wanted to be lost. Personally, I believe it is tremendously exciting that I get to learn the art of archaeology at such a place, where there is such potential!
I know there will be a lot more to learn in the future; I cannot help to already feel like I have learned so much from this place and from the leaders who are allowing me to work with them. So far, the biggest lesson I have learned is the need to keep good documentation, especially map making. Mike Roller has particularly pointed this out to me as he has shown me a tremendous amount of maps that he either researched, sought out and found, or that he has sketched. It seems that no map is entirely correct and with each day, we come that much closer to the truth of different building positions and dig sites. With this new found knowledge, maps and sketches must be updated daily.
Lattimer, in the past, was a place of many things to different people. For some, it was home while to others it may have been labor or even torture, but for me its knowledge and inspiration. With the knowledge I begin to master here, I will be forever expanding my career and academic life. Places like Lattimer give me inspiration that there is still so much wonder and things unknown in the world that maybe one day I will understand just a little bit better!