Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Religious Find at FSJ!

Hello, this is Maureen posting on the blog again!  I’ve been having a fabulous time this summer and I cannot wait to tell you about what we have found (and found out) so far during our excavations.
In 1686, Jesuit missionaries led by Father Allouez were granted tracts of land along the St. Joseph River to establish a mission.   This mission was also named after St. Joseph, the patron saint of New France.   Followed by a trading post and garrison in 1691, the mission’s influence grew.    Often the Indigenous American wives and mixed children of the French fur traders were baptized by missionaries at Fort St. Joseph and learned to practice Catholicism.  The French often displayed their religious devotion through the wearing of ornate crucifixes and other types of religious adornments.
  Over several seasons of digging on the site we have found many such items, but we were surprised to find such an artifact on only our second day working in the floodplain this summer.    While troweling in our 1x1 meter excavation unit, my partner, DJ, and I suddenly uncovered an interesting piece of metal; when it was turned over we noticed clear, glass jewels embedded in the front of the piece and it was then we realized that we had definitely found something unique.   Initially we were puzzled by this artifact and hypothesized that perhaps it was a fragment of some type of jewelry.  When it was shown to Dr. Nassaney, judging from the shape, he suggested it could possibly be the top part of a crucifix. 
Upon closer examination and also looking among the artifact photos used by Charles Hulse in his 1977 thesis, we have concluded that it is highly likely this item is a crucifix part and Dr. Nassaney was right.  Even though the artifact in Hulse’s work, which was most similar to ours, had green glass, the other characteristics are very comparable.   He describes the central stone being “square cut and faceted” while being “surrounded by round, faceted stones.”    Even when this artifact was placed adjacent to the picture in Hulse’s work, one can easily see it is a close match.

Crucifix with Glass Insets (Photo Credit: Genna Perry)
In conclusion, finding this artifacts is relevant to our excavation not only to the collection of physical material, but through continuing our search to know the peoples who lived and worked at Fort St. Joseph and their beliefs.  Stay tuned to read about what else we will find out this summer from the artifacts!


Anonymous said...

I Ron Jacobson as a kid dug up at the same site a civil war era belt buckle and a gold color button with an eagle on it. I turned them into the museum in 1966 or 67. Just wondered if you have any records of that. I would love to see them again

Anonymous said...

ron70jcbs@aol.com.....Ron jacobson