Friday, June 4, 2010

End of Week 4: Bottles!

The fourth, and second-to-last, week of excavation was our of busiest and most exhausting to date. We were visited by a number of large school groups, which gave us the opportunity to share the pleasures (and workload) of field archaeology. We also started to feel the crunch of time as the season's end began peering at us from around a corner. As a result, we ratcheted up the intensity of our days and were rewarded for our efforts.

We began the week faced with the task of exposing the northeastern corner of the barn in an attempt to explain the large boulder scatter covering a few of our units. While this area was chock full o' rocks, we were able to find the point where the northern and eastern walls met. In this corner space, we located a small patch of cobble floor on top of which were deposited a HUGE number of exciting artifacts, including large fragments of ceramic pitchers and chamber pots and a number of intact glass bottles of all sizes (see below).

Without outlining all of the finds from this area, I'd be remiss without showing one of our favorites: it's a glass bottle embossed with the words "BURNETT'S/ COCOAINE" (see below). Naturally, we were all quite tickled -- here was evidence of drug use at the Fairbanks House! Of course, as I've mentioned previously, self-medication was common in the 19th century and included all manner of drugs that are now illegal. However, we continued to be puzzled by the curious spelling until a quick Google search revealed that Mr. Burnett was not actually peddling a cocaine product, but a coconut product. Burnett's product was a coconut oil used for the treatment of balding or damaged hair. He may have been attempting to capitalize on the popularity of cocaine and cocaine products when he concocted such an evocative name.

Below: Brittany working on the northeastern corner of the barn, revealing a bunch of interesting finds (left); a bottle of "BURNETT'S COCOAINE" hair oil (right)

Our other major task for the week involved opening up a large unit in the center of the barn (see below). Although we determined that time would not allow us to expose the entire barn in plan, we measured out this large unit, the excavation of which will signify that we have revealed just over half of the barn's remains. The fill layer on the top of the unit yielded a massive quantity of artifacts including ceramic fragments, a pair of scissors, a number of buttons, a kitchen hook, and more.

This will be the last unit that we'll open for the remainder of the season. Next week will be spent cleaning, photographing, and drawing the existing units, after which time we will remove a section of the cobble flooring to see if evidence of any previous activities exists. And then of course, it's everyone's favorite time -- backfill day! Stay tuned for more as the season speeds to a close~

Below: the large center unit showing a section of cobble flooring and the building's southwest corner in the background (left); Alex taking elevations with Kyla, a frequent visitor to the site (right)


  1. I came across this blog attempting to research some possible family legend that I'm a descendant of the Fairbanks who owned this house. Weird - I'm also an archaeologist. Also weird - we have the same blog template. Why am I researching this? Because I'm on the road for fieldwork, bored and sitting in a hotel room.

    Happy to connect!

  2. Also weird, I have an undergrad from BU on my crew this year. Walker?

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  4. I ran over this online journal endeavoring to research some conceivable family legend that I'm a relative of the Fairbanks who possessed this house. Bizarre - I'm additionally a classicist. Additionally strange - we have the same web journal format. Why am I inquiring about this? Since I'm out and about for hands on work, exhausted and sitting in an inn room.

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