This site, Johnson’s Island, is an island that played a monumental role in our nation’s history, so it is important to properly preserve important artifacts that might be found. The island was a prison that held confederate prisoners-of—war. Some of the goals were to gain a better understanding of the time period and the events that occurred here, Learning about the people who lived here, were imprisoned here, and the people who are buried here could contribute valuable knowledge.
The previously known knowledge can help provide context, Since this site was fairly recent in our nations history, it was likely not difficult to find, The cemetery is still visible, which likely helped to locate the rest of the site. This in addition to the fact that the site is located on an Island helps narrow down the search area. While at the site there are techniques used to find, report, and preserve artifacts found. To search for artifacts in an organized way, researchers set up 2×2 rn2 grids.
This helps with documentation as the grid can be referenced to help with recreation and analyzing relativity between artifacts.
They describe how they would use a trowel to scrape the ground, placing ditt in a bucket to be sifted again to ensure they hadn‘t missed smaller artifacts. They measure going about 2 cm down at a time, which would be helpful to know depth when they are trying to determine the date of the artifacts they found. When items are found they package them individually in bags.
An example of preserving an artifact is that wood can be treated with PEG to prevent it from drying out when only part of it is exposed and they are still working on uncovering it. Beyond the obvious tools needed such as pens, paper, and basic supplies, sites also need many other tools to be effective, the following being tools as taken from the photos and reports of this site. Tools needed for grids include buckets, string, a tape measure or yard stick of some sort, trovels, stakes, and likely other things not mentioned.
The measurement tool, string, and stakes are for creating the grid itself, The trovel and buckets are for excavating the grid, When finding artifacts tools such as a camera, L-scale, and bags are necessary. The camera and L-scale is to properly document the artifact, then the bag is to safely preserve it. Other thing needed in preserving items include those such as PEG, which helps prevent wood from drying out during the process of uncovering it safely. Archeologists interpret data based on many things, such as geographical location, the depth the artifact was found at, and what is known about the time based on written history or other related objectst Sometimes these conclusions are easier, such as the button found in this site that was traced to a known company during the time-period in question, Other time it is more difficultt This is where context is vastly important to making accurate conclusions. Context can help determine what an objects purpose was, who likely used it, and when it was likely used.
For example, it would make sense that there would be increasing complexity in tools over time, Additionally, if tools are found near remains of a certain species or in an area and approximate time there were only a certain type of species present, it would make conclusions more obvious. With the goal to gain more insight on the events and life on the island during the Civil War, some progress was made. The artifacts included both items valuable to research and items appearing to be largely irrelevant Among the relevant items was a newspaper encased in lime This can not only provide insight on what important current events were happening during this time, but also if the date can be deciphered it can give a date for the entire layer it was found at An item that helped give a more general time frame and possibly insight on the trends during the time was the button tied to a New York company that was practicing during the general time of the civil war. Another finding was concentrated pockets of animal bones, which helped the researchers come to the conclusion that the prisoners seemed to be well fed during this time, A piece of wood they found could, with more support, potentially be from a tunnel the prisoners attempted to build to escape.
A Native American tool was also found in what appeared to be a disposal area, which could mean a number of things. I found this activity very intriguing, While I knew that most archeological work was not as glorified as many Hollywood depictions, I was also surprised by how interesting this still was, On one hand researching and finding artifacts from thousands of years ago is fascinating because it is from a time period largely different from ours, sites like this is also very interesting While we do know many things from the last few hundred years thanks to TV, textbooks, and other forms of documentation, there are still many things we do not know. It is unlikely that each prisoner who was in that prison kept a journal or had a well-documented life, looking at this site can help piece stories togetheri The mundane facts of history are not as detailed as the more general aspects of the time, finding things such as the news paper and button found, we can gain a better insight on the personal lives of these people. Since it is so recent in history, these smaller details seem more interesting as they are more relatable than ancient Egypt, Knowledge on ancient Egypt is still interesting, just in a less relatable way and more of a fantasy way. All archaeology is important, the diversity of it makes it important in different ways.