Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Old And The New

Today at Valley Forge was a very interesting day! I had two things on my schedule for the day: 1) washing archaeological artifacts so that they can be sorted and cataloged, and 2) a photo safari of the park. Both of these were wonderfully unique experiences, and the contrast between delving into old artifacts and using modern technology to capture the beauty of the land was striking.

While I thought that washing artifacts for 4 hours would be boring (sorry John!), it was actually one of the best things I've done so far on my internship. Taking pieces of rock, pottery, slag, metal, bone, and glass, among other things, and gently scrubbing the dirt off to reveal what is underneath is a very rewarding experience. One piece of dirty bone seemed unremarkable, however, after rinsing it in the basin and removing the dirt with a toothbrush, scrapes could be seen in the bone that were not visible initially. Likewise, pieces of glass had obvious bubbles and imperfections that could indicate when, and possibly even where they were produced.

In the middle of washing artifacts, the archaeologist at Valley Forge, John, was asked to go investigate a site where shells and pottery had been found on the surface. We went off and mapped the site using GIS and picked up a sample of the artifacts we could readily see. When we got back to the Thomas House, John entered the points into his GIS map of Valley Forge archaeological sites and discovered the site we visited is actually a subsite within another site that used to be an old building. We had no idea when we were out there that we were in an already discovered site, so the artifacts we found will serve to give more depth and history to that site.

The photo safari was one of the summer challenges on my list and was not only fun but also educational. A group of natural resource interns and myself discussed the different settings on a camera, how things like shutter speed and aperture affect a photo, perspective, lighting, and more general topics like the golden hour and the rule of thirds with our "guide.". While photography is something I don't have much of an interest in, it was a great experience to spend 2 hours photographing beautiful spots in the park! 

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