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April-November 2003InteractiveDig Mount Vernon
Meg works in unit 641.
Leigh cleans the robber's trench profile.

Photos courtesy Historic Mount Vernon. Click on images for larger versions.
by Leigh Oldershaw, Lacey Wallace, and Lisa Kraus

Departure of the Ten-Weekers

The ten-week internship at Mount Vernon officially ends August 9, so we ten-weekers--Lacey, Leigh, and Lisa--are preparing to return to our respective universities.

The goals of Mount Vernon's internship program are to provide students (undergraduate and graduate) or recent graduates with advanced training in historical archaeological field methods, lab work, literary publications, interpretation, and innovative ways to include the public in our work. Mount Vernon also provides the opportunity to learn while working hands-on and be paid for it, a sort of internship common among many other professions. Archaeologists, however, are accustomed to paying for field schools, struggling for grants, and rarely finding well-paid assignments without a graduate degree. For this reason, Mount Vernon (and our sponsor, DISCUS) attracted an onslaught of highly qualified applicants. The field trips were additional incentive, providing opportunities to meet and work with other archaeologists in the area. This was a refreshing change!

While we've accomplished our goals for the ten-week period, we're leaving with many unanswered questions. Having single-handedly tackled the task for the last ten weeks, Leigh finished removing the robber's trench fill last week. We found that the western foundation was set three feet into the bank of the millrace to compensate for the elevation changes from west to east, while Kim discovered the foundation was set just a few inches into the ground on the east.

Lacey worked on the southern end of the site outside the main building in the millrace outflow, and she leaves with over half the feature excavated. The wooden trench running down the distillery's eastern side intersects the millrace outflow, and the relationship of these features will hopefully be determined this week. Lacey also excavated one of two postholes south of the millrace outflow. These appear to be later than the distillery, though they didn't contain any diagnostic artifacts. The area was farmed from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1930s, and these might be part of a fence from this period.

Lisa has been more nomadic in her work, having helped in every area of the distillery at one time or another. She recently removed a section of robber's trench at the northern partition wall. Kim, Gwen, and volunteers are working on the trench for the eastern foundation. Together, the work on the wall and the eastern foundation has confirmed that the 600-foot-long sandstone wall was a partition. It's not as wide as the exterior wall and wasn't as deeply set. We now understand the construction phases of the building, and that will be a topic for next week's post.

Megan and Lindsey didn't find a cellar on the northern end of the building as hoped, but they've made two significant discoveries. They found that the foundation in this area was stone like the rest of the building, and they have discovered intact layers that chronicle the construction, use, and destruction of the building. We'll post more about this intriguing square next week with new thoughts about where the cellar was located. We have a hypothesis that ties all the information together!

The internship has been a pleasure and a great success. The three of us will be sorry to go. We'll be leaving behind multiple unfinished test units and unexcavated features, but we're looking forward to following future developments on this website. Is there or is there not a cellar somewhere on the north end of the excavation? Where do the features around the millrace outflow intersect, and what will it mean? We can't wait to find out! Good luck, everybody, and goodbye!

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