We started our first week at Eckley Miners’ Village. The staff has been fantastic and very welcoming of our archaeology project. Many thanks to Dr. Bode Morin and his staff at Eckley for working so hard to make this summer happen.
The first day in the field we began shovel testing on town lot 38/40, which is located on Back Street. Shovel testing consists of small holes that are about 1.0ft wide and are excavated to subsoil – where no human activities occurred. We covered the site with a 10 ft. grid and excavated the shovel tests. We were not certain what we would find, however, the hard work by the crew was worthwhile.
The results of the shovel tests indicate that much of the soil close to the property boundaries was removed at some point, either through erosion or by some mechanical process. There is only a thin humus layer on top of the subsoil. However, the shovel tests closest to the house had material culture related to the occupation of the former residents. This information gave us a clue about where we should place subsequent excavation unit.
Each excavation unit is 5.0. ft by 5.0 ft. and on Thursday we began our excavations. The results were amazing! Toward the back of the house and close to the summer kitchen we found cow and pig bone, and much of the ceramics the field school students recovered dated to the 1860s, from the time when the town was first settled. It looks like we have material from the earliest occupation of Eckley, which will help us understand, work, labor, and the new immigrants’ transition to Northeastern, Pennsylvania.
Take a look at these ceramics. They tell a great story about the lives of the residents. They are all –what we call – shelled edged plates, and they all look alike, as though they came from the same set of dishes. However, when you look at these ceramics closely, they are all slightly different. Some have some embossing in the shell edged design, and some are painted slightly differently. Apparently, the residents were buying individual dishes as they could afford them as they tried to keep a matched set in their household.