Students and Archaeology

Introduction to Archaeology
Quarry Farm

I also regularly teach archaeological excavation methods at the 19th century site of Mark Twain’s summer home in Elmira, NY. The course “Introduction to Archaeology” occurs during the Spring Term III . Students acquire hands-on experience at several historical sites. These include the excavation and recording of artifacts at the Cistern at Quarry Farm, as well as recording and research at various local cemeteries; the Burdett Presbyterian Church Cemetery project is currently being undertaken. 

Burdett Cemetery Report 2007

Last Spring during the months of April and May, a survey of the Presbyterian Church cemetery in Burdett was conducted as part of a course called “Introduction to Archaeology”. The course consisted of teaching field methods in archaeology, aspects of which include surveying, plotting and recording data. For three weeks 13 Elmira College students under my supervision started to plot and record the tombstones, primarily those still standing. Wherever tombstones were visible lying on or just beneath ground level, these were unearthed and also recorded. 
The area of the cemetery surveyed was the area least overgrown by bushes starting from the east side and moving west. The west end of the cemetery remained unrecorded. First a grid was laid out over two thirds of the cemetery in 3 meter intervals using a tripod and theodolite. Tombstones were plotted along those gridlines and recorded in detail. Recording of the tombstones included, other than the inscriptions, the type of lettering, shape, material, and decoration of the monuments. Each of these criteria will be used to determine whether a pattern is discernable in the use of types of tombstones and various families or class of people.
Future work on the cemetery includes completing the plotting and recording of the tombstones in the west area as well as tombstones still hidden underground as result of time.


Other past projects with students have included the Elmira Historic 1897 Fire House excavation, lab and exhibit (on display at Kolker Hall, Elmira College) and the summary and exhibit of Quarry Farm excavations 1999-2007 (on display at Quarry Farm Barn, see photo below). 

Mycenae Archaeological Field School

There are also opportunities for students to participate in a 6-week archaeological field school with me at Mycenae, Greece. For more information see the Mycenae field school on the AIA website or Dickinson field school at Mycenae