Visitors to Dry Tortugas National Park Experience an Archaeological Dig Firsthand!

Dig Location in Paradeground

Dig Location in Paradeground

From March 13 – 16, 2009 visitors tot the Dry Tortugas National Park aboard the Yankee Freedom II were treated to an archaeological dig of an 1850’s storehouse foundation located in the paradeground of Fort Jefferson. March is Florida’s Archaeology Month and this weekend’s even allowed the public an opportunity to help sift and search soils taken from under a storehouse destroyed by fire in 1857.

Volunteers

Volunteers

Park Staff Sifting Soil

Park Staff Sifting Soil

During construction of a brine concentrate reverse osmosis drain field in June 2003 National Park Service archaeologist Margo Schwadron found large concentrations of pipe stem fragments and bowls (most of the men stationed at Fort Jefferson smoked tobacco in clay pipes). Construction of the drain field was shifted to a new location and plans were laid for this archaeological dig. A joint effort of the National Park Service S.E. Archaeological Center, the Florida Public Archaeological Center, and the South Florida National Parks Trust resulted in the 4 day event. Bags and bags of artifacts were collected and catalogued from grids in the study area.

A collection of some interesting artifacts were found:

Bowl Pieces

Bowl Pieces

Gun Flint

Gun Flint

Ceramic Doll Hand and Woman’s Dress Clasp

Ceramic Doll Hand and Woman’s Dress Clasp

Other items found were pieces of pottery, glass fragments from bottles and hurricane lamps and lots of coal. All will be carefully sorted, analyzed and curated at the S.E. Archaeological Center in Tallahassee, FL.

Yankee Freedom II passengers Erik and Susan Peterson from Columbus, Ohio participated in the dig on Saturday March 14th.

They first learned about the the dig from Park Service personnel and spent several hours sifting soil and helping collect artifacts. “A fabulous experience of history and nature – thanks very much!” they commented. “We can’t wait to come back again.”

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