Buried beneath you as you walk the streets of Middletown is the residue of former residents. Mostly consisting of fragments of ceramics, glass, and other objects, these hold the potential to begin to unlock the day-to-day history of their past owners and users. On the triangle of land between Vine Street, Cross Street, and Knowles Avenue (known as the Beman Triangle), a community of African Americans began to build houses from the mid-19th century on land owned by one of their community, Leveret Beman. Although few above-ground traces now suggest the presence of this community, material about their lives survives in the record of their trash and other archaeological features that remain beneath the backyards of the houses on this land. In this class we will study the archaeology of this site, in partnership with members of the wider Middletown community, particularly from the AME Zion Church.
This class will provide general training in historical archaeological field methods. Students will spend time each day participating in excavations on the Beman Triangle site or working on materials analysis in the Cross Street Archaeology Laboratory. Through practical work, students will learn excavation techniques, field recording, artifact analysis, and how to integrate relevant documentary and oral historical sources into archaeological interpretations. Academic material in the class will cover the archaeology of 19th-century African American communities, archaeological field methods, and studies of how community archaeology projects can be formulated as an equal partnership between community stakeholders and archaeologists.