Thursday, April 14, 2011

May 21, 2011 Meeting @ Roebling: Presentations

Below are the abstracts for the papers that will be presented at the May 21 ASNJ meeting at the historic Roebling Museum in Burlington County.

Roebling Museum Website:
Directions: The museum is located just off Route 130. Click here for driving directions. You can also get to the Museum by RiverLine. Click here for Riverline directions.

Executive Board Meeting: 11am
Paper presentations start: 1pm

Coming Full Circle at George Mason's Gunston Hall
Wendy Miervaldis and Claudia Wendling

Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason, holds many mysteries, including how exactly carriages would approach the land side entrance of the mansion. Almost sixty years of archaeological excavations have revealed precious little information. In light of this, influences on Mason at the time he built Gunston Hall have been researched. Plantations he lived in and those belonging to relatives, friends, and associates have been studied. Literature available in the colonies at the time of Gunston Hall's construction has been reviewed. The plantations he designed for his sons, as well as the plantation built by one son after Mason's death, have been examined for clues. A possible plan for the carriage circle, based on this research and existing archaeological evidence, is presented.

The Power of Choice: Reflections of Economic Ability, Status, and Ethnicity in the Foodways of a Free Black Family in Northwestern New Jersey
Megan E. Springate and Amy K. Raes

The study of foodways includes looking at what people ate, where they got it, how they prepared it, and how they ate it. In addition to sustenance, what and how people eat also reflect identity (including ethnicity and status) and consumer choice. In this paper we explore these issues through the lens of archaeological excavations conducted within a free black household in Sussex County, New Jersey. Four generations of the Mann family owned and occupied a small house in Sussex Borough from 1862 to 1909. Analysis of the archaeological resources indicates a dramatic shift in the family's social status in the late nineteenth century. A comparison of the faunal remains, tablewares, and food preparation vessels with other contemporary sites in the Mid-Atlantic reveals variations in these assemblages, contrary to models that have generally been proposed for free black sites. The foodways assemblage is also discussed in relation to the changing status negotiations of the Mann family as understood by both white and black communities.

"Salvage Squared": Salvage Archaeology at the Warner Farm Prehistoric Site, Mt. Laurel, NJ
Sandra H. Bierbrauer, Richard Regensburg, Jack Cresson, and Antoinette Collins

The Warner Farm collections have preserved evidence from a site now lost to further study as the site was destroyed by a housing development; an all too common event in New Jersey. Dick Regensburg, Jack Cresson, and Tony Bonfiglio were invited by the Warner family to perform systematic surface collecting in the early 1970s. Regensburg sifted ashes to retrieve the Warner Family artifact collection after their farmhouse burned to the ground -- hence the title of this talk. Artifacts from the Regensburg and Cresson collections, plus notes by the late Raymond Powell from Medford, NJ, were used in this analysis. These materials were cataloged and entered into an Access database. The Warner Farm site yielded artifacts throughout New Jersey Prehistory, from Paleoindian to European contact. We found notable the number of Early Archaic bifurcate points, and in particular a large number of datable artifact types from the Late Archaic through Early Woodland times.

The site is located on the Pemberton Soil Series which are infertile, well-drained aeolian sands, along the North Branch, Pensauken Creek, about 10 miles east of the Delaware River and 4 miles west of the Pine Barrens. The site would have favored an open pine forest. Nearby however, lie fertile, marl-rich soils with a mixed hickory-oak-beech forest today. Such a forest would have been a rich resource base for food and plant raw materials. A swamp to the south once may have been open water for fish and waterfowl. Lithics on site are limited to quartz and chert gravel and pebbles; much of the lithics analyzed were imported. Quartzites came from nearby cuesta mounds but also from Delaware River cobbles; and jaspers, cherts, igneous and metamorphosed rock from much further distances. This study illustrates the value of carefully documented private artifact collections in reconstructing New Jersey's past.

Newark's Iron Coffins
Scott Warnasch and Michael Audin

Excavation of the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery in downtown Newark revealed many surprises, including two mid-19th century mummiform burial cases. These "iron coffins" were designed to resembled Egyptian-style sarcophagi draped with a burial cloth and cloak. The two coffins are early examples of a mass-produced mortuary product that evolved stylistically throughout the 19th century. These objects and the changes in design over the subsequent decades reflect shifting attitudes about death, status, and style during the nascent period of the mortuary industry.

This presentation will provide general background information on the cemetery site and excavation, as well as an overview of the iron coffin industry, beginning in the late 1840s. Discussion will address how advances in technology, transportation, and the expansion of geography and commerce, as well as changing attitudes about death and disease, resulted in these unique objects.

Archaeological Investigations at the Gully Site (28-Mo-351): A Prehistoric Camp in Central New Jersey
Jessey Walker

The Gully Site (28-Mo-351) is a multi-component prehistoric camp situated in the northern New Jersey Coastal Plain. Phase IB/II/III investigations identified ten prehistoric features and recovered 7,758 lithics, 13 prehistoric pottery sherds, 37 pieces of calcined bone, carbonized plant remains, and starch grains. Ten AMS dates combined with the analysis of the diagnostic artifacts determined that the occupations date primarily from the Late Archaic to the Early Woodland periods. Ephemeral Middle/Late Woodland period occupations were also encountered. The chipped stone assemblage is dominated by argillite indicating that settlement patterns during the Late Archaic and the Early Woodland periods encompassed the Piedmont and/or Delaware River. Macrobotanical and starch grain analysis documented the importance of mast resources and the utilization of wild grasses, berries, and geophytes. Maize starch grains were also recovered from a stone tool. A summary of the investigations will be presented and regional comparisons will be explored.