Friday, February 24, 2006

The Perilous Pit

I thought I'd offer some of my experience in this often "perilous pit" topic:

My experience had been to string aluminum frames with string in 10cm squares and place two of them on the excavated remains and stand on a ladder and photograph them.That was Bowdoin Park, Dutchess County (how we Yanks spell it) once J.P. Morgan's summer place on the Hudson River, across from Marlboro, NY and where ye olde ferry village was.

Interesting "phase" problem, the first phase found some remains, the headstones had been moved on and off the site to plow the narrow rich river terrace, the "geezer" who knew where the stones were supposed to go back to, was fired before they were replaced, and ended up in the local highway department, as the tale went. One archaeological "phase" was done, a line drawn on the ground, and another phase started which I was involved in, winter (using shelter, toboggan and generator) and summer to excavate further a well, then thought finished.

A youth visitor to the subsequent mechanical excavations found a skull in the one of the dirt piles. Bulldozers had started to unearth what had been thought about 1/4 acre cemetery which was actually a 1/2 acre, which a local descendant asserted she had been telling the sewer authority involved in the "taking" of that part of the public park, for years about, once also a former Dutch Reformed churchyard and 20th century "youth farm" and "first" village disturbed by the railroad. An interesting lime kiln had been found too with remote sensing provided by Bruce Bevan who brought a whole "array" of instruments to test the place in a day. Some of the last Federal monies for community sewer projects was spent there, now "they're" on their own to float bonds, etc. to meet U.S. Federal pollution discharge guidelines.

An interesting rock shelter "fall" was excavated there by the once New York State Archaeologist Robert Funk who contributed much to the prehistory of the Hudson River Valley, where once we would be "divided" to be "conquered" (N.J. Parkways Commission) following up on avocational archaeologists work that was also done recently in the park.

Another cemetery I helped with the Moore-Jackson Cemetery in Queens, NYC, had stones that the WPA apparently put artistically there making public works in the Great Depression, but had been broken somewhere else (below the surface) hopefully on the property the Queens Historical Society owns. Some of the decedents house had been used as a headquarters in the "Battle of Long Island" which General Washington lost, at a crossroads of "information" their participation found null, so innocent after the American Revolution. For Celia Bergoffen, Ph.D, RPA.

I have worked for a number of archaeologists on the "First Almshouse" question in NYC City Hall Park, which was further excavated in the summer of 1999, I came on late to it, though explored on two other excavation projects by different archaeologists. I generally have some question about the "First" designation, and its proximity to the British Army Barracks and the Ol' Bailey or prison the NY Times reported as "blacker than any black hole of Calcutta" in which its was also reported by them (1904?) that patriot Ethan Allen was tortured by a British Major Cunningham. Also I wonder how many archaeologists can be switched onto a single research question without it getting entirely switched into the lowest common denominator.

I have also worked at Sacket's Harbor, NY on Lake Ontario said to be the "birthplace of the U.S. Navy" over the War of 1812 (Washington D.C. was burned its stated for burning what has become Toronto) and Zebulon Pike's remains location is still in doubt I read. We set aside one part of the parade ground (with Angela Schuster of "Archaeology" magazine lately, et al) from condominium development when a follow up of Berger, Inc., determination of scattered human remains turned up more substantial remains, the remains of a wooden coffin buried just below the modern surface.

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