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Field Notes 1999 "Brooklyn's Eighteenth-Century Lott House"
September 23, 1999

Project Update
1.8 meters below the surface, we have reached the bottom of the privy trench. How can we be sure? Auger tests revealed that the sandy sterile soil lining the trench floor extends at least another two meters. Our initial analysis of the finds--from whiteware ceramics dating to after the 1840s to ball mason jars with milk glass tops dating to the 1860s--suggests that the privy dates to the 1860s.

We had hoped the bottom of the trench would reveal evidence of even earlier deposits, but no such luck. Apparently, this privy was dug and used exclusively during the 1860s. Privies prior to that must have been located outside the boundaries of the modern Lott property.

During the winter months, if all goes according to plan and the asbestos is removed, we hope to be digging within the basement of the house itself, where we suspect servants may have been living. Next year's work will focus on the south field and in the four corners of the property. Maybe next year will be the year we at last uncover an intact, sealed deposit that dates between 1800 and the 1850s.

We have almost completed the first task of lab work--washing the artifacts--thanks to those dedicated students who volunteered their last days of summer to help. Although we don't have an official count yet, it appears that this year's excavations brought in about 25,000 artifacts on top of the 33,000+ from the previous year. Only three bags of broken window and bottle glass remain to be washed. From there the artifacts will be catalogued, labeled, photographed, and sometimes drawn as well.

Since archaeology is the planned destruction of a site, it is prudent to have as much repetitive information as possible. Things get lost and people make mistakes, but by using redundant recording systems, we insure that the information will not vanish. Many of these objects will never again see the light of day because of limited display space. Down the road, different researchers will require different information; someone who is interested in the artistry of material remains will be interested in how things look; someone else will want to know how many parts and pieces there are. If finds are well-recorded, future scholars will be able to collect the data they need.

[image] Our artifacts include lots of shell and glass buttons as well as some beautiful cut glass. Repairing these things is the most fun part of the analysis work. By far the most intriguing remains are the porcelain doll heads. Let's face it, they're haunting! We've found the eyes and ears for them as well. Gluing this one back together (photo, left, courtesy Brooklyn College) will be fun, although the task is giving one or two students the creeps. We've heard lots of "grandmother of Chuckie" jokes in the lab with these dolls!

School has just begun at Brooklyn College, and that means we have a handful of students helping us out as part of the Archaeology Laboratory class. Work should really progress now. Stay tuned for more from the lab.

Discussion Question:
Are there any dolls like these in your family?


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