History buffs interested in archaeology have an opportunity this winter to assist Dr. Neill De Paoli processing recently discovered artifacts dating as far back as the mid-1600s.
An archaeology "lab" for washing, reconstructing, and identifying artifacts will be held at the Counting House Museum in South Berwick on Saturday afternoons from noon to 3:30 pm throughout the winter. Volunteers are needed and will be trained on the job; no prior experience is needed.
"This is an opportunity for a hands-on encounter with historical household objects, tools and building materials used hundreds of years ago," said De Paoli. "You'll get a closer look than is ever possible when looking at a museum exhibit. Your assistance in processing these artifacts will also help us get a better understanding of the age, purpose, and identity of the structures we have uncovered on the the Old Fields dig site, so we will be very grateful to participants for their assistance."
Those interested in participating may contact DePaoli for further information at 603-766-0561
DePaoli, who has devoted most of his career to the study of English settlement and Anglo-Indian and English-French relations in early northern New England, has spent the past two summers overseeing excavations and the Old Berwick Historical Society's archaeological field school in South Berwick.
The Old Fields dig is named for a neighborhood of South Berwick that 330 years ago was a small hamlet of several homes, a tavern, meetinghouse, burial ground, town wharf, and expansive hay fields, De Paoli explained. Historical documents suggest this locale was a fortified garrison during the conflict ridden 1690s and early 1700s. In 1690 and 1691, Wabanaki war parties attacked the Old Fields garrison and two men working in a nearby field, on two separate occasions.
The dig site is the former dwelling and tavern of Humphrey and Mary Spencer who occupied it from c. 1696 until 1727. De Paoli and his team and members of an archaeological field school (2012) uncovered the first evidence of an early structure that appears to be the Spencer home and tavern along with an array of items including glass wine bottles, stoneware jugs and drinking tankards, and clay smoking pipes. They have also unearthed part of a nearby blacksmith shop that was owned by Captain Ichabod Goodwin and his son General Ichabod Goodwin who lived on the property from 1740 until 1829.
Dr. De Paoli will be continuing his search for more evidence of the Spencer home, and tavern along with the as yet elusive garrison (c. 1690-1720) this coming summer with the assistance of his crew of volunteers and an archaeological field school.
De Paoli has 35 years of experience as a historical archaeologist, having directed archaeological projects in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. He is an adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College.
More information about the Old Fields Archaeology Project is available at www.oldberwick.org