FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 29, 2009) – Fort Lee Regional Archaeological Curation Facility archaeologists and Petersburg National Battlefield Park rangers celebrated Virginia Archaeology Month with a mock dig on Oct. 21 and 27 at the Infantry Earthworks site at PNBP.
The mock digs offered hands-on experience using the techniques archaeologists use to carefully unearth history worldwide.
“We try to involve the public and choose activities that will interest them,” said Amy Wood, Cultural Resources manager. “It is also a good way to learn the basics of archaeology without disturbing a real dig site.”
Each state celebrates archaeology month in an attempt to promote archaeological education and raise awareness of local and regional resources. Promoting awareness on Fort Lee is especially important because the rate of development increases the risk of destroying archaeological remains as well, said Wood.
“The more people are aware, the less likely this is to occur or at the very least, we can gather data prior to the destruction of the site,” she said.
The mission of Fort Lee’s cultural resources programs is to support Soldiers while fostering excellence in cultural resources management. The world’s archaeologists are charged with preserving the past so future generations can understand and learn about it, Wood said.
“It is important because 99 percent of humankind’s history can only be understood through archaeology,” she said.
Fort Lee is located in one of the most historically rich regions, and opportunities to experience history through archaeology exist throughout Virginia.
“We provide several events where Families and students can participate in archaeology and view our efforts on display in the exhibit room at the curation facility,” said Wood.
Participants at the mock digs were instructed on the proper method to uncover features or artifacts, how to screen the dirt and to clean and catalog any artifacts found during the dig.
“One of the things we look for are features or remnants of people in the past having lived on the site,” said Wood. “We look for a fire pit or floor surface of a dirt house or something that creates a record in the soil. We look in both the profile of the earth and in the dirt we extract.”
Kim Colton, a pottery instructor in Petersburg visited the mock dig to find resources to share with her students. As a child, Colton was exposed often to the importance of the past and developed a passion for archaeology that continued into adulthood. She often walks historical sites in search of pottery pieces from past societies to inspire her own works.
“Historical information is so valuable and is important to share with other people,” Colton said. “I like to share my knowledge of local history with the children I teach.”
Colton said she is an advocate of making regionally specific items available for tourists and visitors to Virginia so she incorporates that ideology in her creative expressions.
“The utilitarian items we use today are not very different from the utensils past societies used,” she said. “I’d like to leave history for future generations to enjoy.”