Location: Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, United States
This project looks at a well-known religious community in a less-clearly-understood time: the century and a half during which the descendants of those called “the Pilgrims” radically altered the landscape of Lower Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The outer cape was settled by Europeans starting in 1644 with the founding of Nauset (later Eastham). This settlement was motivated in part by profit, but it was still a religious community, and they carried with them a view of the natural environment as a gift from God to be mastered, “improved,” and used. The settlement at Nauset quickly began to consume the resources of the Lower Cape, and over time this required economic and social adaptations. How did their religious relation to nature change when the environment began to fail them? To answer this question, we will excavate one of the earliest European sites on Cape Cod to see how they adapted both economically and culturally to deforestation and soil erosion that occurred between 1644 and 1800.
Participants in this field school will stay at Cape Cod National Seashore, living in an 1870s Coast Guard Station adjacent to the beach. Activities will include excavation, mapping, and lab work, as well as interaction with site visitors, local historical sites, and museums. Not only will we gain a better understanding of this period, we will also discuss how to best present the information to the public, as stories of the Pilgrims often incorporate narratives of colonial dispossession and environmental change.
Period(s) of Occupation: Historical Archaeology
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Participants must stay entire duration of the field school.
Room and Board Arrangements
During the project, we will stay in an historic, 1870s Coast Guard station right on the beach. It has been updated for safety (such as fire codes) and outfitted to host groups such as ours and others. Rooms have bunk beds and 3 to 8 students will share a room with other students of their own gender identification (room sizes vary). It has modern plumbing (toilets and showers), drinkable water, electricity, and some spectacular, spectacular views of the marsh and ocean. It has heat (being on the water, the temperature gets quite cold some nights) but no air conditioning. It is also an old building and will probably have the occasional insect, draft, or broken thing. Oh, and no wifi! (Though smartphone should get good data reception).
There are two required books for this course and some additional readings, provided in pdfs. Students
are required to bring both books with them to the field, because there will be tests on them, and are recommended to have done at least the readings from Hester, Shafer, and Feder before the field school. Good airplane reading!
Safety and Preparation (required in advance of the project)
Methods Readings (strongly suggested to complete in advance)
Theory and Local History Readings
Museums, Heritage, and Colonialism (all in PDFs)