Nolan Swaim writes about her first archaeological fieldwork and the follow-up in the lab.
Kiah House Experience
The Kiah House is located in downtown Savannah at 505 W. 36th Street. First arriving at the house, you see an old, worn out, yet sturdy building shading the street. Around the side and back of the house were two test pits that students had already started to dig and sift through the dirt. I was very excited since this was my first time helping with an actual dig. In those few hours I was there, I got to use a lot of the information and tools we had talked about in class.
I got the chance to do all three tasks that day. When we started working, it was mostly just moving buckets of dirt from the hole to the sifter. After I got my workout in hauling buckets, I moved to the sifter. While sifting, we found nails, a lot of charcoal, glass, and even some painted dishware. Then I moved into the pit on the side of the house to dig. This was the part I was most looking forward to because I like to work with my hands to feel like I am actually doing work. The stratigraphy in this pit was very peculiar because we were not reaching the natural soil, but going deeper into very dark soil. We knew this by using a Munsell book to label what kind of soil it was.
Everyone even got their fifteen minutes of fame when WTOC came to film and interview us. It was nice to know that Ms. Seifert could help shed some light on what we were doing and why it is important to preserve the historical community. I especially liked that the city would see Armstrong students working hard to help with this preservation project.
Later in class we were able to wash and study some of the artifacts we found. I personally got to wash a tooth, don’t worry it was not from a human, but probably from a pig or other animal for food. Another fun little artifact our group washed was a metal prong [rivet] that would go on a pair of jeans. We actually had no idea what it was because of the rust until Ms. Seifert identified it to our group.
My experience at the Kiah House was a great one. The environment was perfect, the ladies from the museum were funny and welcoming. I got a great first taste of what being an archaeologist was really like. I may have spent hours in the dirt, but it was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday morning.