Baking under the hot summer sun, Franklin & Marshall students have searched for pieces of the past in the dark soil of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.
For two summers, students working with Anthropology Associate Professor Mary Ann Levine have been digging for artifacts where the village of Otstonwakin once stood.
“Archaeology gives a voice to past cultures. Here our goal was to gain a better understanding of Native American experience in Pennsylvania during the fur trade,” Levine said.
The results of the excavations are on display through Dec. 12, in an exhibition in the Sally Mather Gibson Curriculum Gallery in the Phillips Museum of Art titled “In Small Things Remembered: the Archaeological Rediscovery of Madame Montour’s Otstonwakin.”
Curated by students who participated in Levine’s Archaeological Methods seminar, the exhibition includes artifacts dating as far back as 3,000 years ago.
Isabelle Montour, who lived between the 1660s and the 1750s, and better known as Madame Montour, governed the multinational village. Of Native and European descent, she married an Oneida chief and was a well-known translator and diplomat for the colonial governments of Pennsylvania and New York.
The village, located at the mouth of Loyalsock Creek on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, became an important frontier crossroads in the mid-18th century, but the village was decimated in a smallpox outbreak in 1748.
“The exhibit and the dig hope to shed light on the complexity of colonial/indigenous encounters and how colonialism was experienced at the level of the individual and the village,” Levine said.
On display are kaolin smoking pipes, lead broaches, musket balls and brass artifacts dating to the colonial era, as well as older items, including pottery dating back as far as 1200 BCE.
The displays, organized by the age of the items, “tell a story of what happened to this area over time,” Levine said.
Photos of the nearly two dozen students who participated in the summer digs hang on the gallery walls.
“In Small Things Remembered” is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
For more information on the Archaeological Summer Field School, including a slide show, visit the Anthropology homepage.
The exhibition is curated by Leslie Buchter ’10, Elizabeth Bursick ’10, Nicole DeAugustine ’09, Alexandra Feldman ’10, Morgan Henry ’09, Dylan Kohl ’09, Carolyn Leber-Eyrich ’09, Douglas Ritchey ’09, Rachael Scharf ’09, Christina Squillante ’09, Elisabeth Thompson ’09, Daniel Vogel ’09 and Chelsey ZeRuth ’09.