Last month, the We Dig Hampstead Hill project team joined in the celebration of the bicentennial of the Battle of Baltimore. Over 200 visitors stopped by our table in Patterson Park to take a close look at selected artifacts and ask questions from the archeologists. This Saturday, we are hosting archeologist Dr. John Bedell for a lecture and discussion at the Southeast Anchor Branch Library where local residents, volunteers, and others can learn more about the archeology of the site.
Dr. John Bedell, lead archaeologist on the project, will discuss the Battle of Baltimore and its importance for the city’s history, describe the findings of the archeological study, and discuss the role of archeology in public history, historic preservation, and community memory. We also want to listen your thoughts on what how we can continue to protect the archeological resources in the park and continue our successful heritage education programs with local schools next spring.
Please let us know if you are interested in hosting a talk on the War of 1812 in Patterson Park at an upcoming community meeting! Local historians, students and scholars interested in the War of 1812 may also want to join our Battle of Baltimore Wikipedia Workshop & Edit-a-thon earlier in the afternoon on October 25.
Any archeologist will tell you: the most important part of a dig is not what we find, it is what we find out! Processing artifacts is an essential step to learning more about an archeological site and the stories it may hold. Thanks to support from the Maryland Historical Trust Archeology Lab in Crownsville, project archeologists from Louis Berger, and a great group of fourteen volunteers, we just completed the laboratory processing for the artifacts recovered from Patterson Park this past spring.
Between July 29 and August 27, our volunteers (including seven people who helped out during the dig this spring) washed and labeled artifacts then recorded detailed description in a catalog for the collection. The artifacts included a War of 1812 musket ball, a Civil War belt buckle, and a half-plate made of ironstone. The oldest artifact is the Piscataway point created over 2,000 years ago. We didn’t realize in the field that we had found huge number of pieces of kiln furniture (the protective vessels that held pipes as they were fired in the kiln) or “muffles.” The large number of pieces raises the question of whether a kiln was located at the site or whether they were just brought in as dirt fill.
In the next few weeks, Louis Berger will send the artifacts to Kansas City to be photographed at their own laboratory. They’ll be back in Baltimore in time for the bicentennial celebrations on September 14. In October, we will send the collection to its permanent home at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, at Jefferson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, Maryland. You can look forward to seeing a selection of artifacts back in Baltimore this spring as part of a new exhibit we are planning at the Patterson Park Observatory with the Friends of Patterson Park.
Our archeological investigation in Patterson Park this spring surprised almost everyone with the great number and diversity of artifacts we recovered. Over a thousand artifacts from 1814-era musket balls to left-over animal bones help us learn more about the history of Patterson Park and the people of Baltimore.
This summer, Archeological Society of Maryland is continuing its generous support for We Dig Hampstead Hill by taking on the laboratory processing of the archeological materials at their volunteer lab in Crownsville, Maryland. If you thought archeology was all about digging, this is your opportunity to experience the next phase of archeological discovery!
When can I volunteer?
Volunteer opportunities are available most weeks Tuesday and Wednesday between 9:30am and 3:30pm. Processing the Hampstead Hill collection is expected to continue from August through September. Volunteers are welcome to sign up for a few hours or for a full day. After the conclusion of this project, additional volunteer opportunities will be available at the lab on most Tuesdays to process artifacts from a contact-period Native American archeological site.
Where is the lab located?
Maryland Historical Trust
100 Community Place
Crownsville, MD 21032
How can I sign up?
To volunteer, contact Greg Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seats in the lab are limited and will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.
Processing includes washing/cleaning, drying, labeling, identification, cataloging, data entry, and packaging for long-term care. No prior experience or training is required to get involved with this stage of the project! Volunteers will work alongside lab director Louise Akerson, retired Director of the Baltimore Center for Urban Archaeology, and Fieldwork Director Greg Katz and his team from the Louis Berger Group. Cleaning artifacts is a great way to learn more about conservation and artifact identification.