Hampden Heritage

Archaeology, History, and Heritage in Central Baltimore

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Colombian Labor Leaders to Visit U.S.

Please check out this post from Rob at AAAUnite. Baltimore is one of his target cities and he could use our help.

The issues faced by Colombians on a daily basis include
assassination, displacement from their land, threats of
violence, arbitrary imprisonment, and tremendous poverty.
Nearly half the population earns less than the Colombian
minimum wage of roughly $2/day. Over 4,000 trade unionists
have been assassinated in the past ten years. Teachers make
up the largest percentage of those killed. Colombia has over
2 million internally displaced people (second only to

Saturday, August 05, 2006

End of the Excavation Season

Well, we have finally reached the official end of our excavation season. Dave and I will be out a couple of days this next week to finish up some last minute business at our sites, but our last day working with our Youthworks interns was yesterday.

While the Falls Rd. site will be the first of our five sites at which we will have actually finished excavation, we wish we could dig there longer. On Thursday Dave and I saw a copy of the 1876 Hopkins Atlas of Baltimore that showed this property with another structure up front on the lots that comprise 3835-3837 Falls Rd. (the house ruins that are there now are on lot 3839), which tells us two things: (a) people were living here as early as the 1870s, when Hampden experienced its first population boom as people moved here to work in the mills, and (b) at least one house was gone by 1896, as we have another map showing only the house that was on lot 3839 and the house that is currently on lot 3837, at the back of the property well away from the road.

This map information dovetails nicely with the artifacts that we've been finding, both within the ruined house foundation and across the site underneath the sheet midden. Within the last few days we've recovered a number of kaolin pipe stems and pipe bowl fragments and various easily-datable ceramics, such as Rockingham ware, pearlware, blue feather-edge plates, and transfer-printed whitewares in green and black. While some of these ceramics were most popular from roughly 1780-1840, it is certainly possible that the people living in the houses on this site could have inherited them as family heirlooms, or that they are reproductions of antique ceramic styles that were popular during the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century. Since we recovered all of these artifacts from undisturbed contexts, once we have been able to catalogue them and digest the data in the lab, they will tell us much about the daily lives of the former occupants of these lots.

After next week, Dave and I will both be taking some time off, so while we will post some pictures next week (I promise!), there likely won't be any activity on this blog for a couple of weeks after that. However, we will try to put up posts regularly through the fall, winter and spring as we continue to conduct archival research.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dig Day #2

Well, our second Public Dig Day of the summer this past Saturday was slightly better attended than our first one, but it was still not as successful as we had hoped. Perhaps the heat kept people away. In any event, we did have a great time with the people who did stop by, explaining what we've been doing at the Falls Rd. site and showing off some of our best finds. We'll post some pictures in the near future.

Now half-way through our last week of excavation for the summer, we're almost finished with the Falls Rd. site (although we could probably spend another 6 weeks excavating there if we had the time and money). On Saturday we opened up a unit in the area of the midden that we discovered while doing shovel test pits a few weeks ago. In addition to tons of glass, we've found lots of other stuff that attests to the archaeologist's motto: "One person's trash is another person's treasure." Buttons, ceramic vessel fragments, marbles and other items are leading us to believe that this area was a trash dump for at least one of the houses on the site, if not both (and even maybe a house that once stood next door, as well).

Over within the foundation of the burned-down house, we are in the midst of excavating our third unit. After discovering all those buttons in the top layer of the unit right in front of the hearth, we came down on a trench that was dug for the purpose of laying in a water pipe (which is still in place). Unfortunately, there were no artifacts in the trench, which would have allowed us to date the installation of the pipe. However, in our third unit, which is roughly in the middle of the house, we found the pipe trench continuing, and this time it had plenty of artifacts. None of them are easily datable, however, so it may be a trick trying to find out when this property got its running water.