Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bienvenue! Welcome! to the blog for the 2014 Archaeological Field School!

In the past two days, students have arrived in Livingston from Florida, Illinois, Texas, and around Alabama to join the project. They will spend the next four weeks learning archaeology and how to apply it to the study of the past. Although their experience is just beginning, preparations for the project have been underway for several weeks. The Black Belt Museum staff have been working at Fort Tombecbe cutting trees and brambles, surveying and setting up equipment. Screens have been repaired and tools sharpened. Keeping students and staff comfortable and well-fed are also essential for a successful project, so menus have been planned and groceries bought. The excavation itself cannot take place for the sake of excavation or solely for instructing students in methods. Archaeology, though careful and precise, does disassemble archaeological sites, each of which is unique and non-renewable. It must, therefore, proceed carefully and with well-defined goals. The overarching research goals of the Fort Tombecbe Project are to better understand what life was like for Europeans stationed there in the 18th century, the nature of their interactions with native peoples, and how each of these groups affected the other. We hope also to learn how the unique landscape and geology of the Black Belt prairie affected construction and management of Fort Tombecbe and how it compared to contemporaneous forts in the colony of La Louisiane. These goals were pursued in 2012 by excavating a portion of the palisade wall and the bakery. (See earlier posts in this blog for details.) In the 2014 season, we will complete a study of the palisade wall and bakery, focusing particularly on architectural details, and I am especially excited to extend our excavations to investigate the soldiers' barracks. In this location, we are looking for evidence of the daily lives of those stationed at the fort and hope to find artifacts of a more personal nature. I hope that you will join us by keeping up with this daily blog as written by the students who are experiencing it all firsthand.
-Ashley Dumas

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