We have a new face starting at the lab this week—St. Mary’s College of Maryland student Aryel Rigano will be analyzing animal bone from the Smith St. Leonard site for her senior research project. Hailing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Aryel is a senior Anthropology major at the college. Aryel spent last semester abroad in Athens, Greece, where she studied archaeology and had an internship at the American School of Classical Studies. Her intern project there involved studying human remains.
Aryel will be analyzing mammal and bird bones from the Smith St. Leonard Plantation, an 18th-century site here on the park grounds. The bone are from a cellar, measuring 4’x 5’x4’ deep approximately, which was located immediately in front of the kitchen fireplace. Stratigraphic evidence suggests the cellar was filled rather quickly. Agateware utensil handles, which were introduced in the late 1740s, provide an estimated date for the filling of the cellar. In 1748, John Smith inherited the family plantation, and it appears he filled the cellar sometime before his death in 1754, when the site was abandoned.
Kitchen waste was abundant in the cellar, with large quantities of oyster shell, charcoal, and bone recovered. Preliminary sorting of the bone shows that a large variety of domesticated livestock and wild game species are present. Fish remains are particularly abundant, and range from small net-caught individuals to very large drumfish, and include a striped burrfish, a puffer-type species. Other artifacts found in the cellar include copper, pewter, and iron dining utensils; a bone or ivory folding fan; buttons, cufflinks, buckles, and beads; several hoes; iron fireplace hardware such as tongs; and various keys, locks, and hinges.
Aryel admits that she has always been interested in bones and in particular what modifications or alterations to the physical structure of the bone can reveal about disease, injuries, or even how a piece of meat was prepared. We are pleased that she has decided to pursue her research interests with one of our archaeological collections and look forward to working with her over the next nine months as she prepares for graduation.