Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Display of Wealth

Gun parts found this week.
(photo by Austin George)
Digging is getting much easier for my partner and I the lower we go in our unit. We have finally reached the occupation zone, which is where we find undisturbed artifacts. Hopefully this will give us helpful information for uncovering a part of the fort. We have had some trouble with water filling our units, but it is not as bad as when the whole site flooded. Now the pace of our excavations are picking up.  We are low enough now that we can find structural stones from buildings and other features. My partner, Rebecca, and I may have found a ditch and hopefully it proves to be helpful. It could be a drainage ditch or a ditch for garbage. We are looking at maps from past years to draw more information to help us figure out why it’s there. During our lab time at night we are given time to look though past field notes and maps to lay out what we may find near our own units. Last week, we began our camper program with our life-long learners, so it was neat to work with others that have the same interest and excitement that we have about archaeology. We worked with them not only on excavation techniques but also at wet screening. We got to teach the campers what we know, which helped show us how much we have already learned. Throughout the week we found several unique artifacts like a knife blade, a gun flint, a gun part, and the neatest one was a green glass cuff link.

Metal alloy cuff link adorned with green glass.  (photo by John Cardinal)

Last week I began wet screening and started to find artifacts right away. I saw something in the screen that looked like green glass, which was pretty exciting, but when I pulled it out I realized it was a cuff link. Cuff links are usually found in areas where the French would have occupied and where they were trading. The presence of glass sleeve buttons related Fort St. Joseph to Quebec, Montreal, and most French cites. Cuff links were worn exclusively by males and were usually a sign of wealth and would show that the person was trading very ornate objects. There were many things that could have showed wealth back then like clothing type, clothing detail complexity, jewelry, and other things. So if someone had a very colorful or large cuff link it would have signified that they were trading more expensive items than someone with plain cuff links. Cuff links have two characteristics when you make an attempt to identify them. The first characteristic you can look for is whether the metal attachment has an oval or octagonal shape. Secondly, you look at the glass to see how it’s shaped. The glass is mounted to the metal and it is cut to reflect the most light it can. There have been about eight cufflinks found so far at the fort, which would make sense because very few are found in locations that the British also occupied.


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