What I’ve Found: The Prehistoric Landscape at Fairfield Plantation

My goal was to gain a better sense of the prehistoric landscape at Fairfield Plantation.  This project was especially important to me because of the nature of Fairfield Plantation as an historic site.  As a site with a well-established historic occupation, it is easy to overlook the prehistoric landscape that existed long before Europeans first settled in Tidewater Virginia.  However, Virginia Indian communities have inhabited this area for far longer than European settlements have existed.  As such, the prehistory of Virginia is an integral part of its history and should not be ignored.

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The Long Road Ends

At the end of July, I had to take a break from working on my Fellowship project in order to work as a Resident Program Advisor (RPA) for the NIAHD Pre-collegiate Program in Early American History.  That was a fun and rewarding experience, but I am glad to have returned to Fairfield Plantation to finish my project.  This past week I focused on placing the finishing touches on my analysis of lithic artifacts at Fairfield.  In particular, I worked on creating digital maps to illustrate my findings as well as final analyses that will hopefully be published on the Fairfield Foundation webpage in the near future.

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Teaching Others What I’ve Learned

One of the major goals of my project is to create and publish some sort of material to help interested people understand my work.  One project that my mentor had me work on was the creation of an illustrated glossary of lithic types.  Basically, I made a list of the different terms that I thought would be most useful to know when classifying lithic artifacts.  Then, I researched and recorded definitions for each term and including pictures and illustrations as well.  Creating this illustrated glossary helped me in two ways.  The first is that it provides standard definitions and pictures for each term in case I need to explain a difficult concept about my study.  The second way it helped me is that it made me better understand the artifacts so I can more accurately classify and catalog them.

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Unexpected Setbacks

Sometimes life will throw a curveball when you don’t expect it.  Last week, the archaeology lab I am working at flooded.  With water covering the entire floor my project had to take a back seat to rescuing our collections and relocating operations to a storage unit.   Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the lab has flooded.  The facility that houses our lab has had issues with bad water pumps, resulting in a similar flood a year ago as well.

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Off to a Good Start

It’s been a crazy week-and-a-half so far.  I’ve been focusing on laying the foundation for my project.  In order to do this, I needed to sift through Fairfield Plantation’s artifact catalog to sort prehistoric contexts from historic artifacts.  This catalog is a complete list of (most) units excavated at Fairfield.  To put this in perspective, the catalog includes thousands of entries.  Needless to say, it took a while to remove every historic context from the catalog.  However, now that this step is finished, it’s time to move on the next stage of my project.

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