Hampden Heritage

Archaeology, History, and Heritage in Central Baltimore

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Public Dig Day this Weekend!

Wow, it's hard to believe that we're already in the middle of the fourth week of our field season! Our second Public Dig Day of the summer will be held this Saturday, July 28th, from 10 am-2 pm at our site at 3835-3839 Falls Rd. (between McCabe's and Sirkis Hardware). As usual, we'll be offering site tours, a close-up look at some of the more interesting artifacts that we've found so far this summer, and even the opportunity for visitors to do a little screening for artifacts themselves.

Our first Dig Day on the 14th was a huge success, and we want to make this one even better. So be sure to bring all your friends and neighbors!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Some quick photos of ongoing fieldwork

Fieldwork this season is proceeding apace. We have opened up two major areas for investigation. The first is within the footprint of 19th-century household. The second, on the southern portion of the site, is in a midden or trash pit area with a dense concentration of artifacts from the late 19th and early twentieth-century. Beneath that lays a thick, homogeneous deposit full of 19th century artifacts. This deposit may represent a privy for the two known houses on the site, or may in fact constitute evidence of a third major structure. Continued excavation will help to answer this question.

Project Co-Director Bob Chidester examines a hand-blown bottle recovered from the site while young Hampden residents Jonathan Ingram and Tyrek Greene begin work on a new excavation unit.

Tarrell Stokes of the Independence Local 1 School in Hampden listens to some tunes while he screens for artifacts.

Here, a makers mark on the base of an Ironstone vessel reads, "warranted Balt.", indicating the pot's local origins.

A transfer-printed tea vessel located beneath what was once the floor of the house in Area 1 speaks not only about the habits of Victorian people, but also hints at the class identity of the site's inhabitants. A number of artifacts have been recovered from fairly pristine deposits in this area, which Bob is expertly excavating.

Here, excavation of a partial unit reveals the stone foundations of a standing house in an attempt to locate information about the construction date of the house being excavated.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oral History and Hampden Archaeology

First, to introduce myself. I'm Jolene Smith, a grad student at the University of Maryland-College Park working on my Masters in Applied Anthropology. I'm working with Dave, Bob, and the kids on the Hampden Community Archaeology Project this field season as part of an internship. I'm helping with the excavations and day-to-day operations of the project, and additionally, I'm working on an oral history component.

Oral history involves designing and conducting interviews of living people; in our case, we will be interviewing older Hampden residents about their experiences in the community. I've designed this program so that the young fieldworkers are co-contributors. I've been leading them through training sessions teaching oral history methods. Within the next several weeks, we'll work together to develop good interview questions and conduct several recorded interviews in teams. When the interviews are complete, we'll analyze and present our results together.

So, what does oral history have to do with archaeology?

In our opinions, the past and the present are strongly linked. Even though the people we interview were not alive in the early years of Hampden, their insights may provide clues to how Hampden residents have related to the physical place over time- they may tell us about important landmarks, stories about events, and family histories in the area. We're interested in how people in Hampden perceive their heritage and the past, and how the neighborhood has come to be what it is today.

I'll be posting updates from time to time about how the oral history project is going, as well as some details from excavations on my corner of the site- we've been finding some great stuff...more to come!

Also, if you're interested in being interviewed or know someone who would make a good subject, please comment. And come by the first Public Dig Day on Saturday!


Public Dig Day this weekend!

As promised, here is the info on our Public Dig Days this summer. The first one will be held this Saturday from 10-2. (The text below is from the press release that we are sending out to various media outlets.)

The Hampden Community Archaeology Project, in conjunction with the Hampden Community Council and the Center for Heritage Resource Studies of the University of Maryland, is pleased to announce its third season of archaeological excavations in Hampden. Co-directors David Gadsby and Bob Chidester are again directing a team of high school archaeologists funded by the Baltimore Youthworks Program and the Hampden Community Council in the excavation of an archaeological site in the 3800 block of Falls Road, between Sirkis Hardware and McCabe’s Tavern.

Public Dig Days will be held on July 14th and July 28th, from 9 AM to 2 PM. During these events, we welcome members of the Hampden and larger Baltimore communities to visit the site, learn about the process of archaeology and about Hampden’s past, and even take part in the excavations themselves.

Archaeological fieldwork began on June 25th and will continue through August 3rd. Members of the public are invited to visit the excavations at any time that we are in the field (Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM) to learn about archaeology—and why we are doing archaeology in Hampden, —ask questions, and share information about local history. Additionally, we welcome volunteers to help us with field and lab work.

After the successful excavation of five sites over the past two summers, we are looking forward to another productive round of digging this year. You can get regular updates on our progress from our website, located at http://www.heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/AssociatedProjects/Hampden.htm, and our weblog, at http://hampdenheritage.blogspot.com.

The Hampden Community Archaeology Project is sponsored by the Hampden Community Council and the Center for Heritage Resource Studies at the University of Maryland-College Park. Additional funding for 2007 has been provided by the Sociological Initiatives Foundation, the firm of Struever Brothers, Eccles and Rouse, and the Rackham Graduate School of the University of Michigan.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Results from the first two weeks

Hi everybody. Now that we've been doing fieldwork for a couple of weeks, Dave and I, along with our intern Jolene, with start posting several times a week to keep you updated on our progress at the 3835-3839 Falls Road site. Each day our interpretation of what once happened at this site changes as we find more and more stuff. Dave and Jolene are working on several units on the southernmost lot; I'll allow them to describe their findings in future posts. For now I'll describe the two units that we've opened in the interior of the former house on the northermost lot.

In three units inside the house last summer, we discovered a large number of really cool artifacts, including dozens of buttons and a large amount of butchered pig and chicken bone. In one of the first units to be opened up this summer, we encountered an interesting feature along one wall of the unit. While the function of the feature is still unclear (it may have simply been some spilled trash), it certainly yielded some interesting artifacts. Most impressive was an intact wine bottle. We could tell that the bottle was made with a two-piece mold and that the lip was hand-shaped, meaning that it dates to sometime during the 19th century. Nearby, we also unearthed several sherds of a transfer-printed pearlware pitcher or creamer, which would most likely date to sometime during the years 1820 to 1850--much earlier than the time of the structure whose remains are now on the property.

We are now working on another unit closer to the edge of the lot next to 3841 Falls Road. Just today we uncovered another feature that consisted of a thin strip of loose, dark soil with chunks of decaying wood. It appears that the wood may once have been part of a floor joist or a building footer, but we still need to excavate the surrounding strata before we can be sure.

Sometime next week we'll post pictures of all the cool artifacts we've been finding.