Finding The Pilgrims

Archaeologists believe they have uncovered evidence of the Plymouth Colony that was established in 1620. Their findings suggest that there was more interaction between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans than previously thought.

3940
An aerial view of the excavations on Burial Hill. The grey structure with the black and brick doors is an 1830s burial vault that cuts through the site. Excavations in front of and behind the vault revealed a series of building postholes, trash pits, and many seventeenthcentury artifacts from the original settlement. Native American and English pottery was found in the trash pits, suggesting the use of Native pots in the English houses. Credit: Bruce T. Martin.
An aerial view of the excavations on Burial Hill. The grey structure with the black and brick doors is an 1830s burial vault that cuts through the site. Excavations in front of and behind the vault revealed a series of building postholes, trash pits, and many seventeenthcentury artifacts from the original settlement. Native American and English pottery was found in the trash pits, suggesting the use of Native pots in the English houses. Credit: Bruce T. Martin.

Fall 2017: By Rachael Moeller Gorman.

On a sticky day last June, archaeologist David Landon peered into a rectangular, three-foot-deep excavation unit on the edge of an old cemetery. “That layer they’re coming down on, despite being deeply buried, is very dark. It looks like topsoil,” Landon said. Two stocking-footed field school students gently scraped dirt into dustpans. “It’s very organic and rich.”

Landon and Christa Beranek, both of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Fiske Center For Archaeological Research, co-direct Project 400: The Plymouth Colony Archaeological Survey, an investigation to discover the location of the original 1620 Pilgrim settlement under downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts. Landon believes he’s looking at a trash pit from the seventeenth century that was probably located next to a house.

The Pilgrims built their homes with wood and thatch, and all that’s left of them is a series of stains from decayed posts that have enriched and darkened the surrounding soil with organic matter. “We are mapping very subtle soil stains, variations in soil color and texture and artifacts that are present,” he said. “These are some of our main pieces of evidence.”

This evidence is helping the archaeologists identify the perimeters of the Pilgrim settlement. Surprisingly, this is the first time anyone has come so far in identifying its location. The timing of the discovery is serendipitous, as the colony’s 400th anniversary, for which extensive activities are planned, is approaching.

Excerpt.

Read More in our FALL 2017 Issue of American Archaeology, Vol. 20 No. 4. Browse Content of this Issue: Fall 2017 . Browse Articles Excerpts from our last issue, SUMMER 2017.

American Archaeology Magazine is available on newsstands and at bookstores.  Annual subscriptions are available by becoming a Member of the Archaeological Conservancy for an annual Donation of $30 dollars .

Click To Explore Our Online Bonus Images For The Story:

 

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.