[Podcast] Historic Colonial Archaeology w/ Matt Tuttle

Matt Tuttle is back for the first episode recorded from the Stream PDX Airstream!


The last time Tuttle was on GDAH (Episode 12 on the APN archives), we talked about his “origin story” and some helpful advice on getting the most out of your experiences in the field and in the classroom. His takeaway point then, as it is now, is “you have to put in your time” – but this time elaborates that, while putting in your time, it’s also important to take moments to appreciate where you are. Indeed, it’s easy to get lost in the grind and at times it feels like baby steps for years on end, until one day you look back and realize how much has changed.

Tuttle works both as an independent cultural resources contractor, and as an educator and archaeological site steward with Christopher Newport University. He runs the archaeological field school through CNU, and has recently excavated the Amblers Site at Jamestown and a historic colonial site in Isle of Wight County. The Chesapeake Bay region is rich with historic colonial sites but, as Tuttle points out, there is much more to the story of early American cultural heritage. His experience at the Amblers Site highlights the crucial role of scientific method and solid research design in archaeology – they identified a circular feature in the soil, which they hypothesized was a historic well shaft. Upon further investigation, the dark circular soil revealed numerous pre-contact Native American items, including stone tools and debitage. Does this mean they were wrong? Not necessarily, but it certainly required a revision of the hypothesis to test if this could be a Native American pit house. Carbon dating and artifact type morphology confirmed this hypothesis, and nailed down relative dates of roughly 1,250 years before present. This is a great example of problem solving in the puzzle of archaeology.

On a less uplifting note, Tuttle discusses vandalism that occurred at the Isle of Wight site and the need for an integrated approach to public archaeology engagement that combines education for the public as well as involvement with local law enforcement. Essentially, if the illegality of vandalism isn’t a deterrent from site destruction, then perhaps better public engagement can foster respect and appreciation for cultural heritage.

Follow Matt Tuttle on social media, especially if you enjoy seeing the cleanest profiles and floors ever.

We excavated a square unit today that turned out to be a 1/2 foot deeper than the norm and had a nice brick concentration. The plow barely missed the bricks in the top corner. #archaeology #instacool #loveyourjob #fieldwork #instaview #potd #excavation #historic #Virginia

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