Craig Chartier on Why Dig for Archaeological Artifacts
"We do archaeology because it's a way of literally touching the past."
"Taylor-Bray Farm is unique ..I can't think of another site like this. We will be able to compare the material found here with other local and regional sites to better understand many aspects of prehistoric and early historic life...the farm also has great potential to educate people about the importance of archaeology and the need to preserve & protect sites like this."...Craig Chartier, project archaeologist.
Over nine years the farm project has documented thousands of years of human habitation at the farm. Preserving and interpreting the farm's archaeological resources enhances our understanding of the historic and pre-historic activities of the people who have called the place home over the past 10,000 years.
Native American artifacts found at the site indicate a seasonal use of the property dating as far back as the Late Paleo era. Moreover the farm is a significant Plymouth Colony site, which has yielded thousands of artifacts from that time through the 20th century. (To learn some details about the project, please see Archaeology and History at the Taylor-Bray Farm, Yarmouth Port, MA).
Archaeology work began informally in 2009 when Association volunteers removing modern modifications to the late 18th century farmhouse began to discover artifacts beneath the floorboards. Not only did the initial rehab work reveal its structure but also gave significant hints about Richard Taylor's 17th century house. This work grew into an organized, multi-year effort to preserve and learn about the past.
Uncovering the farm's history is still very much a work in progress as archaeologists and local historians toil to fill gaps in our knowledge and contend with the vagaries of fragmentary evidence. The farm still has secrets to give up, but a story is emerging that connects to America's past by illuminating the daily lives of ordinary people.
The year 2018 will mark a pause after nine years of archaeology fieldwork at the farm. A year or two respite will provide some breathing space allowing us to take a step back to rethink all the knowledge we have collected during our digs at the farm.
Our principal archaeologist, Craig Chartier, is currently processing the data & artifacts from the 2017 dig and waiting on the results of multiple laboratory dating tests. The next step will be to produce an in-depth analytic report for the Massachusetts Historical Commission and after that Craig will turn to some big picture thinking incorporating the results of multiple digs and historical archaeology work in local archives that has teased out more data about the people who called the farm home.
Although the archaeology fieldwork is at a pause, we will continue to seek out opportunities to share our knowledge about the farm's past.
Many factors have contributed to the success of the Taylor-Bray Archaeology Project, but three stand out:
We are grateful for the generous Community Preservation grants awarded by the Town of Yarmouth. These grants have allowed us to hire a professional archaeologist to carefully plan field investigations and produce thorough follow-up analytic reports. In 2013, the town Community Preservation Committee named the Association archaeology program as its "project of the year."
We are also indebted to the volunteers who over the years have donated several thousand hours of their time to our successful fieldwork effort.