Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Digging"For" China

The next project on the docket at the Amstel House is our drainage and accessibility project. The project includes two things:

1) Regrade the area at the back door of the building to create an
accessible entrance to the museum; and

2) Provide a drainage system to get the water fro
m the roof away from the building without impacting the landscape in the long term.

To accomplish the drainage goal we will be installing a dry well in the backyard. water from gutters will travel vis two downspouts to an underground pipe that will carry the water to the dry well. The water flows into the buried dry well and disburses underground where it will not infiltrate the building and will not damage the landscape.

The hole for the drywell is 6' x 6' x 8' (w x l x d ). before we start the project we need to investigate the site of the dry well with the help of a professional archaeologist to determine if there are any archaeological resources in the ground there.

We put a call out for volunteers to assist and this past weekend we started our archaeological dig. On Saturday we had two professional archaeologists and 7 volunteers here, and on Sunday we had one archaeologist and 4 volunteers here. Here's a photo of our progress excavating by mid-Saturday afternoon.

Some of our volunteers have worked on archaeology sites before, but some of us (like me) are newbies. Tim, our lead archaeologist, kept us all straight though. I spent most of my time sifting through buckets of soil looking for the elusive great find. We had two sifting tables working all day:

So far, we've found a variety of artifacts spanning about 200 years of site history (going back to about the turnof the 19th century - we think). Everything from building materials to broken ceramics. We'll continue the dig this coming Saturday, as we hope to reach the 17th century. The Amstel House site was owned by Roeloff de Haes, one of New Castle's early Dutch settlers, so anything we find will add to our knowledge of how the site was used during the second half of the 17th century. Of course to get to the 17th century, well need to dig through the 18th century, and that will yield information about the first century of the Amstel House's existance - our primary period of interpretation in the house.

Before Saturday though, my project is to get rid of the big pile of dirt that is now sitting on the back patio - a result of our sifting process. I've already saved some topsoil for future garden use - now I just need to get the rest of the dirt out of here!

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