Monday, May 31, 2010

End of Week 3/Beginning of Week 4: Barn Barn Barn, Barn Barn

Another week has gone by and we're still learning new things about our barn. After extending a unit towards the building's center, we've encountered a scattered layer of foundation-sized boulders (see the picture below). The boulders appear to be mixed with the ashy, artifact-rich layer that we've found in all of our units above the cobble floor and foundation walls, so we think the scatter occurred after the barn fell out of use. Once again, we'll be forced to expand our area of excavation in an attempt to explain away the confusion.

Towards the end of last week, we enjoyed the company of some classes from local elementary schools. Alex was kind enough to give explanations and demonstrations of basic archaeological techniques (see below). We love to chat with people and we encourage people of all ages to stop by and check out our progress!

Below: Alex standing on the scattered boulders (left); students helping Alex work the screen (right)

During our excavations this afternoon, we pulled a small glass bottle out of the trash layer above the cobble floor (see below). Embossed on one side of the bottle was the label "GALEN WOODRUFF/ PHARMACIST/ BOSTON" next to the picture of a mortar and pestle. A quick Google search revealed that Woodruff opened his pharmacy on the corner of Tremont St. and Dover St. in 1870. If the source book "Leading business men of Back Bay, South End, Boston Highlands, Jamaica Plain, and Dorchester" (published in 1888) is to be trusted, then Galen Woodruff was "one of the leading practical pharmacists in the city" who always kept a "full and varied assortment of Drugs, etc." on hand.

Self-medication was quite common in the 19th century, so the discovery of a bottle of this sort is not at all surprising. It is, however, always fun to find something that can be firmly researched to an individual person operating in the past. It's the sort of thing that keeps us coming back! Stay tuned for more from the barn~

Below: Galen Woodruff pharmaceutical bottle

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