Researchers find evidence of original 1620 Plymouth settlement
Three hundred and ninety-five years after Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, researchers from UMass Boston's Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research can say they have definitively discovered evidence of the original 1620 Plymouth settlement. Part of the proof involves a calf that UMass Boston students have affectionately named Constance.
|David Landon’s research team from the University of Massachusetts Boston digging inside|
the original Plymouth settlement walls [Credit: David Landon/UMass Boston]
Because the original structures weren't built with bricks, the research team couldn't look for foundations. Rather, they had to look for "post and ground construction" -- basically holes for wood, and dirt.
"While we're digging, we're constantly in the process of trying to interpret what we're finding. It really goes to just moving slowly and trying to see if there are any patterns in the flow that we can map out. As soon as that starts, it becomes a slow process. It's about much more than the artifacts -- it's about trying to pin down soil color and trying to understand constructed features that are no longer there," Landon said.
|The team knew they were onto something when they found the remains of this calf, which UMass Boston|
students have affectionately named 'Constance' [Credit: David Landon/UMass Boston]
"Constance is a great symbol of this. Oftentimes success in the colony depended on herds of cattle. It became a centerpiece of the economy. So the calf does connect us to that story," Landon said.
Kathryn Ness is the curator of collections at Plimoth Plantation, UMass Boston's partner in this project. She says this discovery is huge.
"Finding evidence of colonial activity inside the original 1620 Plymouth settlement is an incredibly exciting discovery that has the potential to change dramatically our understanding of early European colonization in New England. For the first time, we have proof of where the settlement was located and what kinds of items the Pilgrims owned and used," Ness said. "At Plimoth Plantation, the team's findings will help us further refine our exhibits, as we use archaeological evidence and historical documents as the basis for our portrayal of the past and to ensure that our buildings, activities, and reproduction objects are as accurate as possible. We are looking forward to learning more about their discoveries and seeing what they find next season!"
Landon and more students and researchers will be back next summer.
"We've opened the first window but we want a bigger view. We want the bay window. We want to see if we can find other components," Landon said.
For now, researchers and students are cleaning, labeling, and researching what was found this past summer. They're also going to be trying to figure out how Constance died and why she was buried, rather than eaten.
Author: Colleen Locke | Source: University of Massachusetts Boston [November 24, 2016]