Rain Rain Go Away: What Archaeologists Do When the Weather Refuses to Cooperate

By on 7-31-2018 in Archaeology

You may have noticed we’ve been getting a LOT of rain recently here in Williamsburg, and the rain has been causing flooding in our site.  When our site is wet, even if it’s not currently raining, we can’t dig because it’s simply not safe for the kids, the archaeologists, the artifacts we hope to recover, and the site itself.  We have some hypotheses about why our site is so prone to flooding; most of the blame can probably be placed on  Archibald Blair’s brick-lined cellar.  The brick floor and walls, originally designed in part to keep water out, is now working overtime to keep water IN the site.

Although we can’t dig, we’re still working.  If you came by the site last week or this week, you might see us pumping out our site, sponging up water from small puddles, or pulling back the tarp to expose our sodden site to the brief moments of sunshine we have gotten to help it dry out.

When the weather cooperates, we’re also out at the site giving visitors the chance to ask questions, help us wash, sort, and identify artifacts, and to talk with our experts and special guests about different types of artifacts and the history of archaeology in Virginia.  Last week, the father of American archaeology President Thomas Jefferson was out at the site talking about his exciting discoveries in archaeology, geology, and paleontology.

When we’re not out at the site we’ve been spending time helping out in the lab washing artifacts and preparing to set up a new display of Kids Dig artifacts at the Visitor’s Center.  We’ve been over at Special Collections at the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library doing research about the nineteenth and early twentieth century history of our site, including finding early fire insurance maps of our site to trace how and when our site was developed over the early twentieth century. 

Dessa and Andy have been doing research on Dr. Edward Camm, owner of the nineteenth-century apothecary shop here on our site.  DéShondra, Andy, and Tam have been researching different types of artifacts, to be featured in future blog posts.  We’ve even been working on some research and writing for a potential book project.

While we’re doing some exciting research and have some great activities going on at the Kids Dig! site, we hope to be able to get back to digging soon!   Make sure to check our weather hotline at (757) 565-8582 to see if or when we’re digging, and come stop by the site during dry spells to check out what other stuff we have going on.

Stay dry!


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