tv Reassessing George Washingtons Birthplace CSPAN July 9, 2017 8:50am-10:31am EDT
really, they were riddled with weak spots and places that would crunch in. at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's "q&a." where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today i your cable or satellite provider. >> philip leavy studies the places associated with george washington's life including his virginia birthplace. he discusses the archaeological record at the riverfront land on virginia's northern neck and the speculation that the national park service site is not the birthplace at all. mr. leavy argues that the 300th anniversary of washington's
birth in 2032 imposes a sense of urgency to determine exactly where he was born. the george washington birthplace national monument hosted this program. it is one hour and a half. everyone andnoon welcome to george washington birthplace national monument. i am the chief of interpretations here at this park. today, i am to introduce the guest's speaker to the audience. dr. philip leavy is a professor of history at the university of south florida where he holds appointments in the department of anthropology and the college of global sustainability. he received his phd from the college of william and mary. in two thousand eight, he gained international attention as part of the team that found the remains of george washington childhood home in fredericksburg, virginia. he recounted this in his 2013 the "the story of where
cherry tree group." i havek from 2015, which right here in my hand, is george washington written up on the land. we have copies in the bookstore. this book explores the many weak points of washington's much fabled childhood and covers themes ranging from biography to archaeology and -- he is currently writing the archaeology of george washington, a survey of all of the great washington's sites and their stories. dr. leavy has also conducted a reassessment of the 1930's archaeological record here at george washington earth place. he says -- this is one of the most intriguing and misunderstood washington archaeological site. is time toarm -- it
make sense of the archaeological birthplace. speaking onll be the findings of his 2013 reassessment of the sites archaeology and will highlight the things that generates -- and generations have gotten right and those it has gotten wrong. for those of us committed to the landscape, will want to speak loudly and clearly of the momentous events that took place here nearly 300 years ago. the world will be watching. ladies and gentlemen, without further reduce, please welcome, dr. philip leavy. >>[applause] >> thank you everyone. thanks for coming out here. thanks for being here. and things for the introduction. -- and thanks for the introduction.
i have two microphones. i can talk really loudly. maybe i will just ignore the microphone and talk at a louder volume. to docrophones will have their balance game. the introduction gave a little theof a tip of some of things i'm going to talk about and give away one of my punchlines but that is ok. . like to put these things up for the past decade or more, i have been interested in washington's childhood, especially the landscapes of his childhood. my field of study has become washington memory. ae way washington is used as figure in other discussions. in some ways, it is inspired by our -- by archaeology. you have a responsibility for every other period along the way which you also excavate. i approached this landscape
study in a similar way. it is about washington, but also about washington in the 1930's, 1860's, 1830's. there are other people working on this but this has become very important to me and it extends from an archaeological beginning. i like to look at the sites and work from the sites and i use them as my framework. the number -- 2032 up. why? what is special about that? this is probably the worst audience to ask that question of because you know. this is coming next. does this clarify? an essential thing we have to keep in mind. , 2032 is 10terms minutes away. it takes a very long time to organize the scale of an event
that has to happen. anniversary ofl his birth, was an event that was planned for 20 years before it came into being. at the point where we are in relation to the tri-centenary, it has already bindu -- it has already been decided that there will be a massive celebration. we will want to start to eat the drums on this and all of you can help by being loyal to the landscape and getting the idea out that there has to be something. someone will figure out that 2032 is coming upon us. it is just a question of when that will happen. we want to get something solid and powerful and focused on the landscape that brings people's attention to the community. we could do it well or poorly. thisve to recognize that is happening and we want to turn the 300th anniversary of his
birth into something interesting and substantive. the 200thennial, anniversary, was crucial in the formation of this landscape. not in the geological sense. the preservation movement born --the 1920's here became became a crucial piece of the making of the park and in 1932, the federal projects, the federal government had involvement and it produced an enormous man of literature and awareness of washington. it is central to the story here. the park has one major outcome from it. i like to use a map. this map at a talk overseas and that was pointless. the potomac river. it does not always work. what we know where we are, halfway up the potomac.
we are in the core of old settlement. what is emerging now is the difference between virginia regions. instead of thinking of a single virginia colony, we are getting better at thinking about subregions. we are starting to think about the potomac as a subregion unto itself. this is the landscape we are focusing on. it came into the folk -- into focus in the 1920's and the 1930's. these should be familiar to you. do we have a pointer? this will work. this point of land here -- the memorial house, the curved the reconstructed outbuildings there. and we cannot see the visitor center, but close to where we are. there is a third point of land in the potomac beyond. this is where we are going to focus. talking about how this place has
been understood and misunderstood. as a background to this, as we approach 2032, a lot of discussions began and one of them, not five years ago, was about the need to understand the archaeological effort here. we were able to find the money to do a reassessment of the 1930's archaeological record. that is the first step. we need to understand what that record looks like. is a considerably long time ago and much of the world has changed. we don't operate archaeologically the same way as we did we don't operate archaeologically the same way we did in the 1930's. a lot of the conclusions we would come to now. some of the most fundamental pieces of the way archaeologically works are radically different. we have ceramic dating down to a science in the way they did not. you can find people -- define
people, defined sites, defined things that bring up from the ground as colonial era china. we can get very precise dates for when ceramics are first manufactured, precise information about when they entered american market. we are able to treat ceramics as a diagnostic tool, something to help us date our sites with a degree of precision unavailable in the 1930's. architecturally, you would not think this, but we know more about colonial architecture now than they did in the 1930's. there are classes of buildings they were unaware that existed. it has taken archaeologically of the 1970's and 1980's to look at them. we have changed our understanding radically. the people who were doing excavating in the 1930's, the best knowledge they had did not know that post and ground buildings existed. they know there can be farmed buildings, but they did not know anything about post and ground dwelling. they did not have any way to identify them. they're not excavating sites in a way that will let them find them.
the only way they know how to find them are bricks in situ, bricks in the ground. they can do that really well, but they don't have the ability or document said, data set, to be able to bring much to bear on that. they can identify buildings, but don't have the document done -- don't have the acumen to understand them. that is both a good and bad thing and part of why it is so important to do this reassessment and begin a discussion of what this site actually says. the bad part would be there is a lot of uncertainty about the archaeological record. that happens over time. the good part is that site, the bulk of the site, is largely unexcavated. there is a lot we don't know about. it is waiting for a time when we have digital methods at our
disposal to be able to do minimal impact to understand what is on the ground. in many ways, it has worked out well. it is almost like they're waiting for the 300 anniversary to come along. that is a pretty exciting thing when you start to take apart this site, and you will see why by the time i'm done. i'm going to show you different slides and imagery, some of which is fairly technical, but i have chosen some small examples and i think i can talk you through them. i want to highlight one other thing you need to keep in mind when understanding the story of this place. many of you know the story. there is a lot written about it and you can track it down without much effort. in the 1930's, there are competing groups of people are doing different things about this landscape. each side is making its case, and they are focused on 19th century data in order to make that case. there also were people in the public ether who were arguing this was not the birthplace site
at all. that argument does not really get traction but it appears in the washington post, the new york times. there are people arguing in that period that both groups that are arguing -- the wakefield association and ultimately national park service -- and they are both wrong and it is not here at all. that debate is not a debate. we have absolute certainty. it would be impossible to imagine this is not the right landscape. but they were nervous in that time period that it might not be, so some of the defensiveness you see in the debates in the 1920's and 1930's is because other people are arguing, you are both wrong. you see politics emerging in the discussion. another thing to keep in mind -- i am laying out these pillars so we have a handle on why the changes i'm talking about are part of this and why they fit together -- these days, the average undergraduate history
student has access to literally thousands more documents 24 hours a day than the best american historian had in 1925. that is an astounding thing to keep in mind. when people were doing their histories in the 1930's, they had the material they had in front of them, but that is what they had. it was difficult to get more. you do find people who are very thorough, but thorough does not look the same then as now. we have the ability through digital media and collections work over the past century, we have access to an incredibly large amount of information that we are able to bring to bear that they simply could not. i spent a lifetime for my last book reading washington biographies and working my way through them. when you realize -- when you read a lot of them, you realize that what you did in 1900 when you wrote a biography, you read three previous biographies and took your best dad. -- your best stab.
you get the same information processed over and over again. when they were doing research for the park here in the 1920's, there was no published selection of washington's papers to speak of. the papers were still disparate. they were being collected. the bicentennial actually led to a collection effort. it was happening at the time, but wasn't published. today if you want to do work on washington, you can go to any library and have the printed washington papers, annotated, so there are footnotes. the university of virginia has been putting this out for decades. there is still doing it, still records they are coming out with being published. much of that is now online. you can go to their website and find documents and transcriptions of documents and get a password and have absolute access to the whole thing. and it is searchable. anybody can do this, anybody can spend hours with washington's papers. it was not like that when they were writing biography is the 1900, very few people had access to this information. we don't have to feel too indebted to the analyses that
took place in those periods. those periods are fascinating for what those analyses say about the period. they are part of this story and there are pieces worth and there are pieces worth paying attention to, but we can do a broader job and understand more. we don't have to worry too much about the kinds of conclusions they came to. we are in a different place. let's build a little bit of the story so we can get to some of the findings i want to share. odd place to begin the story, but i always begin it here. ucb earthworks in the foreground of washington? if you look to your right -- no, your left, same as mine -- you will see the navy yard burning right there. where is it? you see all these little earthworks, fortifications with the cannon smoke?
somewhere in there presumably is george washington parke custis. he got to fire the canon ceremonially. he was the adopted great-grandson and revolutionary war veteran. they invited him to participate. i begin with this because, as many of you know, the park us this -- and the parke custises are central to the story. he is the one who starts the process of washington commemoration. in 1815 -- not an accidental time. the british had been up the river, burned the city of washington, the fleet had stopped there and went up through maryland. it was not lost on anybody living on this river that it had been traumatized why this work. -- by this war. what parke custis did with a few
revolutionary war veterans was to come to this site to commemorate washington as a rededication of the republic in the wake of the destruction of the city. that memory bills itself into this period of commemoration. as many of you know, he placed a stone. they brought the stone downriver. over time, the stone got lost, farmers moved it. when they got to the landscape, it was two years -- when he arrived here, parke custis -- two years after the last washington family member who owns the property, george corbyn washington had sold the property off. he was sort of distancing himself. there were still family stories about the land, but getting fewer. the washingtons themselves were living more distantly, further away. it is sort of a retreat. there wasn't a lot on the land to recall where the buildings were. chimneys, we were told there was a cellar hole visible into the 19th century, but also there are a lot of buildings. when you look at the
distribution of habitation, there are people all over the place. not every building needs to be associated with the person you are looking for. it starts a process, this game of commemoration, looking for sites. it leads ultimately to the memorial obelisk at the circle, having been moved, i have just recently learned its base has been trimmed. the flamboyant base in the 1890's was trimmed down a bit. it led to a lot of art. this is one of my favorite topics. when mason locke weems wrote his famous stories of washington in his cherry tree edition of his life of washington, he talked about the home at ferry farm on the rappahannock and described it as a low front of faded red, and aging building overlooking the river. he said people come there still and say, here the great washington was born. he immediately said, they were wrong because he was born
upsilon westmoreland county in another site. that is the confusion in 1807 that carries on through the history of these two places. they are always confused one for the other. this was a wonderful example of that confusion, a drawing and etching. it says it is the birthplace of washington, although it is hard to reconcile the landscape as the mirror of the landscape. this would have to be the other side of popes creek if this is supposed to be pope's creek on the left. the building itself is a rendering of ferry farm that gets drawn again and again. they have taken the ferry farm home and popped it on the imaginative popes creek rendering. this conflation happens all over the place. people can be forgiven. you have to pay a lot of attention to understand that. this culminates with the
memorial house i won't go into it story. you can still look at it. a very reasonable facsimile of a colonial home at this. a little more whole thing than -- more hulking than we would expect. there are plenty of houses in virginia that look like this, so it fits the bill in that way. this was the argument of one faction who had the ability to render their argument in brick and mortar on the land. excavations play a crucial role. there weren't excavations at the memorial home, but the remains they found are very odd and look like strange outbuildings. they were destroyed to make way for the memorial house. other excavations began in the 1930's and that is what we will focus on. you can see the landscape, the cars, the road stretching out. this road dates back to the 1890's, put their so you could drive or ride up to see the obelisk, the one that has been moved. it was originally where the
memorial house was. this road is leading you into the area. without going into too much detail, they realized there were other features in the area. that cellar seems to be somewhere in this area, so they started to do exploratory digs. it is not the tiniest excavation. i have seen this before, but we don't take photographs in those days. we like to clean up a little before we start to take the photographs. this is a good workshop. you can see our friends standing midway there for scale. their model is the same model that colonial williamsburg is using. james knight, an architect and pioneering archaeologist at colonial williamsburg, developed a method of looking up the blocks of the city and digging trenches at 45 degree angles. what that lets you do is bang
into brick foundations. the reason being if you go with the block, you may pass the foundation. it is an effective way to find a brick foundation. you will find objects as you encounter them. you won't find earth and features, sellers, post holes, fence lines. you are just trying to bang into bricks. when you find them, you do what we see here, trench around them, trace their outline, then you have your building. that is the technique they are bringing to bear. in 1930, they locate what gets called building x. in 1936, they excavated. they brought ccc workers up from west moreland state park. i think it is sp17. those guys are building the park, they bring those laborers up. they do work for a couple of weeks and head back to the park. they are retrieving artifacts, putting stuff in bags. it is never clear to me from the
record exactly what their system is. these days at minimum, we would use a quarter inch mesh screen, run all the soil through it and retain artifacts and use finer mesh and water screening and flotation for areas we wanted to be more careful with. they are not using a screen. they are gathering. this looks nice, i will put it in a bag. it is difficult for me to know what their retention method is. we do have a collection method from them, but that is one of the foibles built into the record. this is the 1940 map that shows what we end up having. it gives you an idea the extent of the excavation in the 1940's. i was not joking when i said very little of the site has been excavated. they are taking guesses as to where things might be. you can see the trenches. they have some interesting intervals, sort of being creative. i'm not sure what this represents, it is an interesting choice. i like the staggering, it gives it a pleasing houndstooth
quality, checkerboard work. you have the memorial house here. these excavations go back to the 1880's and 1890's, the memorial house sitting on top of it. building x is over here. you can see the channeling they did when they first found it, then dug around it, but that is all. a few other areas here, and that is it, and a little thing here. they are finding stuff, going after it, concentrating in that area. later, what is called the colonial garden next related in the 1970's and a post-inground building was spotted, as well as some other features. that will matter in a little while. you get the idea of what they're doing, concentrated on one area and removing everything associated with the building. this is what they produced. i have adjusted this. i use color coding on these maps a lot. a few things to keep in mind about these and a few things i
want to say about northington's estimation. it was extremely sophisticated for his day. he had good mentors and followed the procedure. he gridded the area very carefully. he used strings suspended in air , so he knows what five foot by five foot unit he is in so that when he puts his artifacts and bags, he is close to where they are. we were able to put that back together. what happens over time, every time the features were drawn -- by features i mean the bricks, the things that cannot be removed from the ground. every time they drew these bricks, they sort of simplified them, made all the warts go away. each drawing makes it looks more and more regular, to the point where it is like they are convincing themselves this can work as a building. this is the way it gets talked about, broken into rooms, which is itself an assumption. i am presuming i'm looking at a single building that has rooms.
so a, b, c, d, and e. e i'm not going to talk about because it does not make much sense at all, does not correspond to the building and is much more ephemeral than the drawings make it look like. it is barely there. more wishful thinking than anything else. we don't have assemblages for it because it was not enough of a space for them to get the assemblages. it is a strange looking object and has always been recognized as a strange looking object. the excavators said it was multiple buildings. they thought it was a sequence of buildings rather than a single building. it is only later we started talking about it as a single building. they are not that great at identifying stuff yet. they're doing the best they can, but they don't have that much information to go on. let me step back and say one thing about the record. northington collected this stuff, it belongs to the park
service, stored it and cared for it. this is before computers and uniform record collecting. they had to invent a record collecting system. his system had flaws. the main one was he blocked out big areas and gave them a number . big area with a number, big area with a number, and then he subdivided inside of those big areas and gave each of those a number. seems reasonable, but if you do that and i say 100, 101, area 23, subarea 101, that is fine. what ends up happening is i call that area 100. over here and i have area 25 and i say 100, 101, 102, you end up with two things that say 101 or 102. he fell into the trap of using repeat numbers, a train wreck for trying to put together a substantive record.
if you take nothing else away from today, when you make a large record, use nonrepeating numbers. start with 00001 and you will probably be safe. 003121 is only that and nothing else. he had a repeating record, which was an interesting problem we had to rectify. use that system to connect to the artifacts. the book carried the information and had all tags like this. his report on the left top about what he is doing day-to-day. he has a corresponding system so that he can refer in his notes to things found in particular areas, go back and paper bags and find those artifacts. and then time moved on and this stuff became part of a larger connection and there were different needs. in the 1970's, the collection was re-catalogued. and again in the 1990's, it was re-catalogued.
for larger purposes, to be able to do different things. the later catalog is a much more efficient catalog, much better system than the one northington had, but can you see the problem? they are disconnected. the impulse behind the catalog that exists now is not necessarily an archaeological impulse. it was very difficult to work with. when we walked into this, the first thing we had to do was basically play a game of rosetta stone. we have got one group of language, another group of language, but i need a third group so i can translate one to the other. we had to go back and mary the different records, make them speak one to the other. part of our plan to make sure we got it right was to build in 50 different checks after the fact so we could say, i want to find the subject, it should be in x context, let's see if we were right. we were playing games to see of our system worked correctly. we used xl, changed the numbers
to nonrepeating numbers, and off we went. we created a massive catalog of all the objects found but one we could start to ask questions up. the first thing was to make the record talk. that matters, if nothing else, because since northington's excavation until today, no one could have worked with that record. it is not just that people didn't, you couldn't have worked with that record. it would have been externally difficult, taken a lot of time to marry those things across. the record has been left alone. not only did northington map, but he also recorded profile views. this was basically looking at the soil layers from the side. he did not do as many as we would do now. if we were doing this, we would be mapping and photographing every unit we estimated. he did them overbroad units. you can see what i mean about the numbers, 340, 330, those refer to the five by five units.
the unit that was excavated to get this or is that the unit over there? it is hard to tell. we had to put all this together. he gave us enough that we could start to make sense out of this. this is what happened. this is where gets a little bit technicaly. what we did was re-created the stratigraphy. he did arbitrary layers. he did not look at it and say, i see a change here, i see a change their, he imposed changes on it. four to 22, 10 to 16, 16 to 22, creating arbitrary layers. we went through and cut from his notes what those layers were and corresponded with other layers to say what is in those layers. it is a little tricky. there won't be a test, but you
do get to see what our numbering system look like. 107301. we took the area number and connected it permanently to the subarea number. 107301 does not repeat itself. an awkward number but it works. if i were starting again, this is not the numbering system i would use, but we don't have to worry about expanding on this excavation. we had three different rooms that had substantive layering. the three of them, b, a , and d, you will notice quickly that what is happening inside of them -- the deposition inside of them, deposition representing the end of a building's life -- we only get to see in detail two moments of the building's life, a lot about when it is built and a lot about what it ends. what we want to see is what is happening in between. that is often the priciest stuff -- the diciest stuff.
if we find the right features, we can find where they dug the holes to build the building. we are looking at the end of the habitation, it's demise, no longer lived in by the time the stuff is collecting. if you look at the distributions, the charts, they don't really correspond. it is not a uniform thing happening across all three of these areas. that is an interesting thing to think about. that would suggest to me two different possibilities. one is that they are each open at different times and are filled at different times, meaning each of these three are completely separate constructions that have their own stories. and it could be some combination of the two. or there is just an unevenness in the filling, things are piling in as they pile in. this is an open pit for a while and things are coming in gradually. garbage gets dumped over there, other garbage over there.
we can be fairly certain there is habitation happening nearby. people are here dumping their garbage, it is not just an open hole. people from another home are taking their stuff and will bureau's, chimney waste and so on and dumping it in their. that helps fill the whole. anybody with land knows you don't want to leave the whole open. that is what we see happening. in contrast, take a look at the change here -- we are not going to this, so hold your hats -- you can see how these three vary. now let's look at c. it is completely different. the three we saw our different one from another but only in degrees. c is a completely different thing. it has a very big layer of black soil at the top with light artifacts and yellow gray soil beneath that down to the bottom. the artifacts are early. what that tells us is this thing
called c was not open when the other three were. it was already a filled object before these other things came in. did the other three exist at the same time? hard to tell, but the way the film of this one works says this was not open at the same time, certainly was not being filled at the same time. as they were being filled, this was already filled with something else. right away, this a, b, c, d, e numbering thing starts to be problematic. if c is filled before a and b, it can't be later than a. it has to be an earlier thing from some other set of activities. when we started to put this together, that is when we started to say we have to consider the possibility before separate structures or one is a separate structure and two are one thing. we have to move in that direction, which does a lot of damage to the argument that this
was a single structure. the archaeology just with the soil stratigraphy is telling us this does not work as a single structure, four rooms with a history as one thing. they look separate. that is one datastream. let's look at the artifacts themselves. i have given you a couple of pictures to contextualize. there are a lot of artifacts we can talk about. at the top, we have use wares, the type of thing used in utility preparation, stewing pots, serving platters. they're not table service, they are things found in the kitchen. at the bottom, we have a punch bowl we got from ferry farm. i use that picture every chance i get. and a white stoneware plate on the right. these are table settings. this is a world, we have to remember in the 18th century, where people did not have a lot
of stuff. even wealthy people did not have a lot of stuff. i like to point out to my undergraduates, if you have a home today and you have lived in that home for, say, a decade, two decades, and you have been gradually collecting things we all do as consumers in the period of time you have been living in that house, you own more stuff than the king of sweden did in 1650. that house has more stuff than he had. we have more material. they have a lot less. it helps us to keep that in mind because when things get broken and left, where they land really does tell us about where they were used. the location of different types of ceramics is an important clue as to what is happening in different parts of the site, and it works pretty uniformly. you find where there are utilitarian ceramics, things used in preparation of food. table service, be it plates or punch bowls or forks and knives or glasses, wineglasses, that
stuff is withheld. that stuff tends to divide fairly easily. let's look at the artifact little bit. what we did for this is took the 1930 excavation and 1936 excavation, both of which created artifact collections. my chart shows you in color a, b, c, d. each represents a number. i have at the bottom different ceramic types, some have a date. what i'm interested in showing is what types of ceramics are clustering where. what you start to see if there is a disproportionate amount of coarse earthenware, utility wares in this structure. they are not high on table wares. i think the breakdown was roughly 50/50, in some sections hired for the earthenware. we see a greater amount of food preparation ware, not table where.
all that would suggest we are looking at outbuildings. it is not absolutely positive. if we were looking at a poor family, we might think differently, because poor people are going to have less and utilitarian wares are cheaper. we are dealing with the family in the top 10% of virginians and wealth. they would not have a enormous amount of utilitarian wares on their table. if we are seeing the high quantity of use wares, we are looking at something not a residence, we are looking at something probably more about preparation of food than consumption. let's look at this again, pulling up the 1936 data, sort of the same thing going on, although we do get a spike in white glazed stoneware in one area. we are getting interesting break. this is a little technical, but let's look at it briefly. this gives you totals. notice the high quantity we have
of buck;lley, one of the pieces piecesuckley, one of the i showed you before. this is a utilitarian where. if this was the 17th century, tin enamel ware is fancy stuff. in the 18th century, it is pretty much some chamber pots and storage jars. that we are seeing this stuff is suggesting we are not dealing with a domestic assemblage, we are dealing with an assemblage associated with the production of food and labor rather than the place where the master family would be eating. that matters quite a bit. because if we already have the layers from the features suggesting something is not quite right in them all existing at the same time, now we have artifacts telling us we might be looking at something utilitarian. that's fine because we expect those buildings to be smaller, shorter lived. if we are getting a series of
buildings existing in the same area, it make sense there would be a series of outbuildings that comment go with awareness of one another. anyone who built a whole there to build a building knows there was another building their. they use the bricks to build a non--- to build the next one. let's talk about fires for a minute. fire plays a prominent role in the story of washington's homes. i have written about this a little bit and still don't quite have it. it is a really strange thing, but every washington home is associated with a fire, and many of them were christmas fires. that is an important thing. we have one letter from the 1790's that associates the ferry farm with a christmas fire, but in the 1790's that is a little dubious. we have a letter in the 1740's that comes from england address to a washington that says, sorry about your late calamity by fire. we think we have identified that fire at ferry farm. the 1790 letters adjusts that
would be there also. washington ever commented on this stuff, but when david humphreys was riding his biography, he commented on humphreys work with annotated marks. one of his annotations as he was adding information, he said, my father's house burned, talking about his childhood. that is not great. there are a lot of his father's houses, hard to tell which one, but it is confirmation there was a fire. the fire takes on a life. the property next to mount vernon, that burned. we have all sorts of fires. the christmas thing comes in later and adds an interesting dimension. there is a fire story associated with this landscape and we need to talk about it for a minute. we have excavated buildings that had fires, burned down buildings is a fact of life. this is one i have a small involvement with i got to see when i was in graduate school. this is an amazing site that in some respects, the time wasn't
there to really spend with it. this building instantly entered the canon of virginia buildings. this building gets referred to all the time, the john page house. just an amazing building. this building burned down in the 1720's. it had a fire one night. when you have a fire one night -- hopefully none of you have experienced this -- you have a house full of stuff of domestic life. it is all there. then there is a fire. when a house burns down catastrophically, that stuff burns. once it is burned, it is useless. it helps fill the seller hold that you fill with dirt. in this seller, there were sacks of grain that had burned. there were shelves with wine bottles that burned and collapsed onto one another. there was no mistaking this was a calamitous fire and all the
domestic chit was inside the house when this fire happened. let's return to our site and ask about the burn. where is the burn? that is a pretty interesting thing. when you look at just rooms b and a, you can see what is happening. wood is 100% burned, fine. i don't know that is necessarily true because a certain amount of rotting wood looks just like burnt wood, so you have to assess it carefully. i can tell you why burned wood is in a trash pit. that is not going to surprise you, and burned wood will survive better than raw wood. we don't have to lose too much sleep over the burned wood. i want to know about the ceramics and glass. look at those percentages. at the upper level, the ceramics and romney, 1% of the ceramics -- in room a, 1% of the ceramics
were burned. deeper end, 16% burned, at the bottom, 50%. how do you have a calamitous house fire that burns only 50% of the ceramics? then the house is abandoned. these percentages are extremely inconsistent, layer by layer. we are not seeing the percentages we would expect. we don't see anywhere where we have the right kind of percentages of burn to look like a calamitous fire. it does not mean there can't be a less calamitous house fire. that certainly can still be possible. the idea that a house burns down and leaves this inconsistent record -- it does not work that way. we don't have to think about the house burning down. houses can be damaged by fire to the point where they are abandoned. that can happen. that leaves a different kind of record. we may be seeing something that is damaged by burn and abandoned , but the layering is tricky and does not quite work that way. we will talk about that more later perhaps. i think the photographs of the
building itself can talk about that. it does not really support that story. what we have instead is at the bottom of both of these areas, we don't have burn, we have silt. the only way that can get in there is if there weren't walls. what that suggests is an abandoned building and burn on top of that. that burn looks like stuff being dumped in from somewhere else rather than being part of the building. fires are happening, but this building is not showing the evidence one would expect. same problem here, percentages are strange. this one had a chimney, so it is hard to tell what we are looking at in terms of burn. i want to talk about mass for a minute. the burn segues into a landscape story. this is samuel lampkin's story when george gordon was selling the land in 1713, he had a local surveyor to the work. he charted out the bounds of the
land. he was only interested in the borders, does not care about what is inside. he does not point out anything, that is not his job. the borders happen to include this line here, which may have some berm trenches right next to it. he points out ruins on the land south of the border. you can see the point of the land right there. that is the creek, we are over here. the washington home is presumably somewhere in that area. there is a mail somewhere down -- mill somewhere down here. i highlighted this because this is the part i want to call your attention to. there is a fork in the road on the other side of the creek. this is the road to the burned house that swings up this way, and then you have the road to washington's mill south. that is pretty interesting. if you look at that, that tells us in 1813 there is a burnt
house on the land, not a surprise, we know there were ruins on the land. there is a burnt house and ruins. we have at least two remnants of former habitation, and there is a mill somewhere. let's look at another map. this is 1879. the army discovered during the civil war it was really fun to draw maps. you get a lot of federal impulses to draw maps afterward. these mapmakers are not local people. they are professionals who were sent down and they just ask local people. all the names reflect local understanding. i have colorized this so we can get a better handle on what is happening. this is pope's creek, never really quite that blue, is it? the marshland, i have tried to highlight in green so you get a sense of what is high and what is low. that calls to attention the run of what we might call little pope's creek, where the ice pond is. if you cross the bridge from the
duck hall area, you are looking into where this water runs. that was wet enough that when it made its way up to hear, if you were coming in by card or horse, or horse, it forced you to choose one side of the creek or the other. the ground gets wet and you got to pick which side you are going to go on, so the road forks. all these road features always follow the natural topography. they always follow what it is like to be on the land. even though things get damp and water gets drained, the roads are still there, telling you there is a reason the road had to fork their. there. you go either on the northward swing and go on the road to the burned house, which if you follow it through, it goes to the granary. you can see those buildings still or the inheritors of those buildings.
the barns are on the road to the cemetery. you can't go up the road here because it is private property. but either this or this is where the burned house was. this road swings up and goes to the burned house, forcing you onto the north side of this little greek. creek. if you go toward washington mail, you go down through what was the wilson property. wilson appears in a lot of these documents. he is an informant, tells people who, about the landscape. this road swings you up to where the washington home was. in the 18th century when you are coming in, you comment on this road, for to the right, and that is how you get to the washington property. if you go north, you go to wherever this burned house was. you could be here, could be up there. what tends to happen with these older roads is when they get to intersections, their name changes. the road to the burnt house is often just this stretch. the word house does not have to mean a dwelling, in the way that a chicken house is not necessarily a house.
there are effective uses that could be at work. we will figure this out another time perhaps, but that road is forcing you away from the washington property. this notion of the burned house -- i can't go into too much detail -- but the story takes on a life of its own. by the 1880's, you get people referencing it. you get people in the time of the bicentennial who are absolutely inventing stories. we have in one case a forger who plays a prominent role in feeding stories to a historian, but he has a washington family association even though he is a forger. there is a famous story about him, but he was a washington family descendent and everything he said was taken as gospel because he had the right genealogy. but he was making stuff up at a lot of different levels. there is no reason to take what he said at face value. they accepted it because of genealogy. we don't have to do that. remember how narrow the world of information was for these folks.
notice here that this map has called it burned house point. that is what people are calling it. but if you go back -- i put these together so you can clarify my thinking -- this was the lampkin map of 1813 during the fork. here is the link map of the 1870's. it is the same piece of road. both maps show it in relation to the creek. the next project is to get out there and start to find these things on the ground and get them into computer databases so we can overlay the landscape in interesting ways. this was lampkin's full survey. if you look over here, there is the point. i want to play a little trick with you, zoom in and lighten it. now turn it upside down so you can read it. see what it is called? good point.
in 1813, when the washington's are still there, when we are those or to the memory of what happened, that these of land is called good point, nobody is calling it burned house point. it is not in the discourse of the time. that tradition is invented in a later period of time and reflects a different stream of information. it is how this stuff works. when you spend time with landscape, you see this all the time. i presented this to colleagues in britain and people who deal with this over centuries. they wanted to know what it was called before, what it was called after, because they look for turnover in names like this every 75 years or so. they can do a really long track and watch how a memory of it being an avid's house -- abbott's house, the way these things filter through the landscape and you get vestigial forms of the way things filter through the land. what is great about sites like this is because of washington,
because of the ongoing interest in washington, we have a trail of data. this is happening with all sorts of landscapes, but we don't have the data to put them back together. here, because people come back again and again, we can start to understand how a virginia landscape changes its meaning over time. good point, as this was called at the time -- as i mentioned, the fire stories start to become fast and furious. mrs. roger a. pryor wrote about mary washington. i won't read her quote, but you get the idea. people have very little compunction in this period and making stuff up. it is remarkable. there are many books out there that simply put dialogue in people's mouths. you can pick up books that look like any other book that tell you the conversations that lawrence, that george and lawrence are happening as they sit around mount vernon.
it is all just made up. there is a business of doing this. unfortunately, it converges. in a world where information was limited in the 1930's, people see these things and have a hard time sorting out. that is why people get so agitated. most of us don't really care whether williams was telling the truth or not about the cherry tree story. it is interesting, but we are not agitated. read what they are writing at the turn-of-the-century. they're angry at that guy. they want to hunt him down and hit him with a stick of cherrywood. they are mad at him about mixing fiction with truth. that is because their endeavor is so uncertain, so fraught with peril that when they can see somebody making something up that makes them nervous, because they know they are susceptible to all sorts of fiction because of the nature of the work they do. when we start to talk about the building, we get to think about the landscape and not just assume that just because a story
is there, that is the way it works. when we look at the documents, we see there is almost nothing supporting this stuff. it comes into existence expediently at a particular moment. the architecture is the trickiest one of all. you can see northington's strings sort of thing late. -- sort of faintly. he has done a great job checking this stuff out. i will highlight some of the tension we have. this is a strange happening. this is a corner that is not knitted into itself. these two pieces of wall were not made at the same time. a mason would interlock. there is a drive course at the bottom of the one on the left, but there is not one on the right. that doesn't mean much. it is an example of the kind of curious mismatches you find. this one is much more
problematic. i would love to be able to see exactly what's happening here. on the left, you have got a construction. you can see a clear theme between whatever is on the left and whatever is on the right. at the bottom on the right, something is very well mortared. somebody put a lot of time and energy into them ordering -- into that mortar. that comes up and stops, then there is something behind it with soil, packed dirt, some of which has been dug out, presumably by the excavators. on top of that is another wall. that is not a single construction. that is, at minimum, a building that was abandoned or taken apart and dirt was building and another building on top of it. when you look at the plan, the map, none of this stuff was taken into consideration when you draw clean lines. when you start to get into the actual architecture, it starts to look very strange.
this was a chimney fall over. this accounts for a lot of the burn. we looked at these ceramics, and the ceramics are lightly burned. we don't have conflagration ware where the ceramics are really transformed. we don't see evidence of intense fire. this stuff we see looks like kitchen refuse burning. nobody knew that at the time. they did not have a data set to know that kitchens are often full of burn ceramics. this is a great one. what is going on here? bring the masons in. on the left, you have got a wall that appears to have something built into it and has been robbed out. that is interesting robbing. not to say it can't happen. look what happens is you get to the bottom of it. there is a dry course at the very bottom, then another footer under the dry course. that suggest there was something here, it went away, this came in , then this went away, then this
came in. or this was connected and something chalked it out. i don't have a nation. -- i don't have an explanation. i have three data sets. stratigraphy, artifacts, and the architecture, but all i have of the architecture are these photographs, maybe a handful more. until we are able to actually interrogate this on foot, this was a mystery zone. when you look at it, it is not very convincing for working as a bunch of pieces of a single building. it is arguing very loudly it is something else. what it is, very hard to say. lots of possibilities i can make up, about nine or 10 different ones, all of which could fit into the story of developments on -- it is probably not ever a single building. this is what they start to do, they draw it.
it captures the strangeness of the building. when you look back here, look how regular this is. it is a simplified drawing grade when you look at it it is easy to tell yourself, i see how that would work. when you look at the complicated version you do not see that readily. let's bring ourselves in her a bit. i used a different color to capture each different episode of construction. each color represents in independent building. think about that for a minute. that is not building a building, or even building a room and putting a room on it. you have lots of different activity going on. much more so than you would expect to find in a building that was built as a single thing. some parts are clearly built singly. that is a piece of a building, as of this right in line with it.
we see with landscapes a lot of time people returning to the name area. it took us a lot to figure out why, but people will return to the same spot and build on it again and again and again. we figured out it has to do with water. it is close to the water supply. there is no real interest in going too far away, you would rather push the building down and build there. we get the cluster in the same area. this is an array of building, rather than a single, something is locking habitation into this area. it is coming back to this area to build again and again. something else is making a need to be in that immediate orbit. something that could be a resident that we have yet to see. that would explain why it is happening in the same place. let's try another one. i broke this down by bricks. read being too bricks, blue
-- red being two bricks, blue representing one and a half and green representing one. he did see why i say i will not lose a lot of sleep over it. when i say one brick, a brick and a half and two bricks, this is what i am talking about. it tells you about the building that sat on top of it. there is not enough brick in the feature. nothing that was built was made of brick. the chimneys are, but the walls are not. we do not have the thickness for the walls. more importantly, we do not have the brick rubble. when you break down a brick building, you reuse the bricks as much as you can. in order to do that you need a chisel and a hammer to knock the bricks off. when you do that you break about 50%. not because you are sloppy but because you bang them and the crack goes through. you lose a lot of bricks when you do it. it is still worth the effort. this is a time when labor is cheap and free and you purchase
it for life, in many cases. material is expensive. it is agricultural labor, and if you owned in slave labor, you wanted to do something. you say to the human beings that you own, go out there and not the bricks down. we see ditches maintained for 40 and 50 years. he is up there with a hose scraping out a ditch. you need the labor. you need to do so you invent them. it is always out there. you reuse brick. when you reuse it you break a lot, when it breaks it ends up in the cellar. it is not there. that is a sure sign it is not a brick building. wooden buildings would not be. stone foundations we have learned get reused without effort. stone does not break when he disassembled the foundation. stones are reusable over and
over to the point where nothing is less -- left to the foundation. brick is different. keep in mind that thickness is here, now we can look at cap the map and get a better sense of what i am talking about. the two bricks are probably thick enough to support a brick wall, but they do not have the footers at the bottom we need for a brick wall. even if there was a brick wall it could only be a story high. i have serious questions about whether that is likely. if you have a brick and a half, you cannot build a brick wall on a brick and a half. prove me wrong. do not do it, that wall will collapse and that will be a better experience for everybody. -- a very bad experience for everybody. do not do it. a warm brick wall like that, that is a garden wall. that is not even a good garden wall because the mirrors block and the bumper hits it and it is
over. it is not even a particularly solid wall. a one brick wall in the ground, i do not know what kind of home that is, but that is not the home of someone in the top 10% of virginia and wealth. it does not work that way. the best cases this guy, which is a pretty solid thing represents some building. the interpretation has always in that way. i am more comfortable with thinking that the front is this way, facing the river, and the wings go out there and there. imagine a rectangle around it or coming off of that seller, -- cellar, which we see in a lot of holdings. you can even have a seller - cellar coming off the black -- back. it is hard to tell from the bricks. i will show you another thing about the games we play. i had to play with angles.
if you look on the right you have the map we were looking at, it shows the grids. i try to angle it so we look at the same angle of the photograph. look what the photo does. i tried to match the photos as best i could and did look at how tidy the drawing is and how messy the actual bricks are. there are little deceptions in here. this is a wonderful, is in it? a chimney or something, but look here, it does not work so well. it is a lot sloppier. these drawings themselves are tricky. they are oversimplifications. only tried it build an interpretation on the building over supplications, we will have problems. you end up with, when you look at this, architecture, sort of a tricky, strange building. it does not make sense. the more you look at the building the more it looks like this type of building.
why is there a chimney in the room? if this is supposed to stand at the same time, how does that work? this is very strange. what is that sitting there next to that? it becomes very problematic or it looked -- problematic. let's return here. then it will be time for questions. it is not all doom and gloom or we do not know. we know a lot because the 1970's in the garden area. we had a different kind of retention. this is more contemporary archaeology. just a screen, artifacts retrieved. they were re-catalogued in the 1990's, we know they are good and we feel better. we double checked to make sure we like them. what we start to see, when we look at tableware, the things we associate with domestic, homes and not food production, we start to get small clustering's
of them over towards the river. i will just show you two of them but this is a pattern we see over and over. we are seeing the tableware associated with a home clustering closer to the water and not near building x. building x. has a utilitarian ceramics, but the tableware is between the river and building x. what this is all pointing to -- stay with us for a second -- i think what this is all pointing to is the building out there. it has not been identified as such or fully located in their other bits of brick holdings that they discovered but did not explore. there are a few out there that would pretty nice. we would probably want to rethink them. i think we start to wonder what some of those are doing and what they might, the because we are seeing -- what they might be because we are seeing those
artifacts in the river. the world would make more sense if in fact there was a brick building facing out to the river, throwing covers behind with kitchen buildings behind it with throwing the garbage in the front. that is kind of what plantations look like. if we end up with that we are right back in the mainstream and you always, when it comes to architecture and landscape, you want to be in the mainstream. you want as many elements of the landscape architecture to be as normal as you possibly can. there are anomalies, but if it is anomaly after anomaly in the same building in the same place, you have a problem and you have to blame yourself. it is not me, it is a landscape. i am missing something, i am not eating it right. the normal things needs to be the thing that happens the most. once you are there things make more sense and you are more confident with the conclusion. this is where we end up. the list of people that thank
you pulled this together. we end up in a place where it's not in dense of being able to say we thought it was this, we have done this work and we know it is this. i don't think we are there. we are beginning to look at it critically to say, what do we don't we know? what is the evidence tell us without worrying about discussions we have had before? the evidence points to this thing called building x was more complicated. we have to have more uncertainty with what we say about it. the optimal view of the world where we can start to get out there and do some middle impact or nonimpact surveys on the land and get a sense of what else i be out there, i think there were still work to do looking at building x, but i think we can get these answers. they go back to the beginning of the talk why do we need to get , these answers? 2032 is 20 minutes away. it will happen really soon. when it does the world will turn to this place. i am not joking when i say you will have 50 senators out there
the president of the united , states. the birth of george washington. when you see it on a day-to-day aces and write about it, it becomes natural. it is the thing, it is my job. that is not what it is when it comes to being a national possession. the country will turn its eyes to this landscape and there will be a major celebration. the river will be chalked full of boats. there will be naval frigates. there will be yachts coming down from mount vernon. the presidential helicopter will have to land somewhere. secret service will be blocking the roads. the gas station will run out of gas. that is all going to happen. we have to recommit to get together to make sure we turn this into something that is valuable to the community that means something here. so when all is said and done there is something really great here. instead of it is happening and your roads get the brunt of it and you cannot get gas anymore for a while.
that is all there is. this is a great opportunity. but the beginning of it all is critically analyzing the record here so that when the world turns to this landscape, we have a really good answer to tell them. this is what we know now based or on current thinking and current technology. i will stop there and take any questions you may have. thanks for coming. [applause] prof. levy: i have to do this because i am so proud of her, but he is defending her dissertation next week right , there. and then starting as the system -- assistant professor at the university in savannah, georgia. she is co-author on the report and now she is off to have an academic career. we are very happy for her. looking forward to watching her work with her students. bring them out here and do the work. questions? go ahead.
as we were saying. >> why was there a re-excavations six years later to building x? it seems to be a short interval to go back. prof. levy: there is some discussion around this. they are trying to get it right. there is a lot of stuff that talks about that. that is in the midst of the conflict between the wakefield association and the parks. they are making different cases. say -- gom is they away little microphone thing -- -- microsoft thing -- there is a bump and they had not noticed a bump. they got nervous because they noticed it on the building of the memorial house. what is that bump over there? they are trying to figure out what the dump is. the first excavation is to find the brick walls. there is a little processing. yes, there are competing constituencies. there are people who resisted the memorial house.
they saw as a vanity project and thought it was not the right way to go. biggest back to park custis and the disagreement about where his stone was. different people who were fighting over the location of the stone and making different locations. people outside saying it didn't happen your anyway. people were making crazy arguments. historian for the wakefield association realized -- because they were trying to get the commemoration there at this time. the historian realizes that that is a threat to his fundraising strain and does not want that to happen. he starts writing articles about how fairy farm, and washington himself tells us that it is on the rappahannock and is a view of fredericksburg and you can see the comings and goings of the ship, this guy writes it is miles and word. it is not even on the river. he might not even read the
the ad where washington said it was on the river. people say things. you get different conflicts going. once they find it in 1930 they come back in 1936 to try to understand it. that is why you have two constituents struggling against each other. i see the battery is out. that is all right. anyone else? yes. >> i have two questions. one, i was wondering how sure you are that building x is not george washington's birth home? like 100% sure or more like 60% sure? prof. levy: no, i don't become 100% sure of a whole lot, in anything. what it comes down to is i have three or four different streams. the artifacts that are seen -- and again we are working with a imperfect record i had to , analyze in him perfect record
knowing it is riddled with flaws. the artifact of telling me that what i am looking at is food production areas, not dwelling areas. that would argue it is not a home. that would speak to that. the artifact is arguing it is not a home. it suggests it comes down in strange ways, which would argue against the firestorm. -- fire story that it burned down. that would challenge that. the architecture does not look like a single building. the dates do not work really well for it either. it seems to be early. i find very little evidence that it is up after 1760 or so. there is not a lot of evidence to support that. some but not a lot. again, it is not that we thought this, i did this, now we know this. rather, we thought this, we analyzed the record and we are not so sure about that. that is kind of what it is. i think we are at the point where it is prudent. i like caution with this story
of stuff -- sort of stuff. i think the best way to talk about this is to say -- to answer honestly and give a longer answer, rather than a yes or no. not every question gets a simple guess or no. here is the story, it is understood as being this, but that was based on evidence that does not really work. i personally, i am not sure this is a well in, but also a part of it could've been a dwelling. we have to figure out where augustine washington was having before he built a home that we know he built in 1720's. maybe we are looking at part of it. and other dwellings because there are people all over the place. if something is very early, that one part looks like it's from the 1680's, then gone by the 1720's. other things are there from the 1720's to the 1760's. we just don't have it. but the thing we cannot say with certainty is this.
we have to be more cautious and say this is how we talked about it, but the evidence is pointing a bunch of different degrees. we are assessing it. the whole point is to be working, understanding, building interpretation and moving forward. trying to get the best answers. i don't have percentages of certainty except at the micro level. >> my second question is, how long has that building been called building x? prof. levy: i am shunting that story to the side because it has been talked about and could take forever to outline. there is a lot of politics. they call it building x because of the wakefield association had already claimed the name for the birth site. they were all intermixed and our little conflicts. they would not say we are calling this the birth site, we are now at war with the foundation. they came up with this careful term to avoid the accusation, that they were making but hid that accusation.
they said we will just call it building x. has a great spy movie title. [laughter] >> the food production area in the house was generally kind of separated. maybe by a wall or some property, or whatever, but the food was generally prepared by the slaves and was brought into the house. could that be the explanation to why there were so many of the artifacts found in that area? prof. levy: the issue of proximity, yes. your kitchen needs to be far enough away so that the work area is not where you are living, but close enough so you do not get too much water on your chicken when it is walked over in the rain. you do not want to get cold in the interim. they tend to be close but separate.
it would make perfect sense. that distribution we see, utilitarian, and you start to get the table wares. if all we were doing was looking at ceramics without any architecture and we are just walking the ground of a freshly plowed field and five artifacts. we noticed over here, i getting a lot of use wares and over here table wares, you we would start our excavation with this is where the food is being prepared and this is where the work is happening, this is where the master class is. we would absolutely begin with that assumption. then we has a architecture which raises questions. we are sort of working at backwards but that's what happens with this forensic archaeology project. we have don't make the work makes sense. that distribution is exactly right. made that the you
house would've been facing that part of the house would be facing the river would explain the cleanliness because there was no piped-in water so i had to clean the utensils. prof. levy: they bring water in. i don't knows there was a well here, i never found a well in my entire career. wells evade me. they don't like me and i never find them. i only work on site that did not have wells. not sure how that works. we did find one well once at a site we were working on in the 1990's. it was brick lined and it was round and a great-looking well. i called the person directing the site. he left the site and when we found the top of the well he went back to the lab and we continue to work in the field. two hours later i told him i had great news. i said we found the shallowest well in colonial virginia. [laughter] prof. levy: it was just a whole
where they put a barrel. no wells for me. facing the river is a norm for these houses. that is a normal thing to do. this is a pretty majestic view from that piece of land. that is a nice view. it is hard to imagine that a virginia gentryman would build a house that faces this way. i like things that correspond to what normally happen. the more things that correspond, the easier the explanation. because the building -- the cellar is oriented that way. in the 1930's, when they lifted it and the fireplace was here, there is a hard on the end -- hearth on the end, they said that means the front has to be that way. that does not necessarily work. it's not even necessarily a fireplace. they are assuming it's a fireplace. i don't know if i'm assuming it's a fireplace. entryways can take all sorts of strange forms.
with that strange entryways and we are looking at stairs. their assumption is that those stairs must be on the side of the house. that is not true. they can be on the front. you can have a front entry to the cellar. not a problem. but you have your rectangular cellar there are, than the front would be that way, which is where the river was. because of this shape they are assuming the front is that way. what i'm suggesting is that willing to go that way and the front is like that. they do not have the experience of seeing the buildings. they do not have the evidence in front of them the way we have from decades of looking at the buildings. right, there are buildings that look like that. that is not odd. yes? >>[inaudible] >> give a loss to the park service. their job is to curate and protect. it is deep in the dna to leave things alone.
that is as we want it. we do not want to go out to canyon and start knocking things around. it would be nice to get answers. i like building x because it has been excavated already. the project would be a re-excavation rather than a new excavation. it makes it a little easier because we are not necessarily destroying cultural remains that were formed 300 years ago. we are looking at backfill from the 1930's. it is a slightly easier thing to talk about. there are no plans now. we are starting to have discussions about what we can do for interpretations for the park. what is the park me to say? what current themes are there that we can bring in? what systems are there that we can begin by doing radar and try to get a sense of things that way before we begin to excavate.
minimal impact is the first place to go. >> when you do re-excavation, you're just uncovering old stuff. what is the probability of learning new stuff? prof. levy: there are a few things. first off if we were to excavate , those features, we would treat it as a new excavation, but we would grid it up the same way we would grid anything else up. as a said early on, i don't know if they said, this is nice, i will keep that. i have to assume that there are all sorts of artifacts in that backfill. they have been mixed up again. i do not get whether they have have been deposited in you can century. from what i see of the record, i am looking at rubble and some of it i think is coming from other buildings off on other parts of the site.
we would screen everything. as they redeposit, it is not a cake. you do not redeposit and stir. there may be color changes in the soil and it would reflect the color changes in the soil when they came out. we would excavated and treated exactly like a regular excavation and record and retain everything through a quarter inch screen. then we would re-expose the brick foundation. that is the crucial thing. if we can look at the brick foundation we can answer questions i was posing, why does this look this way? we all sorts of analyses than. we could take mortar samples and get a sense of when things were held here at once we are -- sense of when things were built. once we are in there we could do more. odds are there are things that the missed. when you build a building, you dig a hole, you build your building and filled the whole
back in. they are filled as the building is built around the outside of the building. they are wonderful for telling you when a building was held. probably some are probably pretty destroyed, but there may be corners there. we would want to locate those areas where there are layers and even features within it. it is screening the soil and getting the artifacts back. understanding what kind of layers might be in that soil. looking for other impact features that might be in the ground there it most importantly, getting a good handle on that an understanding mortar analysis and taking it apart. i still have a dream that we would want to digitize. we would be doing digital scanning so we could get a very good record of what it looked like. it would be wonderful to replace that moral outline with a 1-1 digitally reconstruction of
those features on the ground. whether they are plastic or however you want to do it. you could do a perfect replication right on top of the ground. not only that once we had the , digital version, we could play with it. we could start to take what look like parts of buildings broken by other buildings and finish them out. we can only do that i getting in the ground and having access to that feature so that we could properly digitize it and turning it into a record. by the time we were done with that i think we would have a 100% answer. the mortar would tell us things, the bricks would tell us things. there are experts who are remarkably expert on 18th-century masonry. they would come in and explain things. we would those answers. by the time we were done we would know absolutely. right now we have a lot of doubt and uncertainty. it would be nice to move to certainty that the only way to do that is to get in there and take a look at it. is that good?
any others? yes, please. >> they found all sorts of extremely artifacts that have raised all sorts of interesting questions. are there any particular artifacts or features that you have found particularly interesting? prof. levy: i have not had a chance to look at features. it is only artifacts. the artifacts are very simple. it inclines towards the utilitarian. it does not have a lot of flamboyant stuff. however as an aside, somebody was pulling up the nicest stuff. we can look at other sites -- we know because they appear in other parts of the record. that was happening back in the 1930's. there were some things that were pulled from that site that are not in the current catalog. not a lot of them, but some that are more interesting. i think there are some sales
bailes associated with it. i think there is some wool and metal bails. this was not a site that yielded a bunch of amazing objects. it was very utilitarian. really straightforward stuff. one of the reasons a dirty farm has the quality of artifacts it has is the technique. that was to go to do it 100% sample of things and to emphasize small fines in the analysis of retrieval. one way to approach objects is to look for things that could be quantified. what do i have a lot of numbers of and what way have little numbers of? if you are doing that, the way it works in the 1970's and 1980's, you can do a fairly small sample and say the percentage will look the same more or less. i do 10% and i have the breakdown. i can assume that will carry across depending on how i distributed my unit and the sample. it is much more aggressive and
details attentive reclamation. when you do that, you start to get really interest in things that do not appear over and over again. the record i am looking at is one where i don't know what their sampling to ink was, but they get -- sampling technique was. once we get in there, if we are able to get in there, we would retrieve that with the same eye and have a better ability to see if there are more interesting things in their. i do not know with those would be at this point, especially if they turn out to be work areas. the artifact assemblage for the work area is a little less dramatic. unless we turn to find wig curlers. you never know. if we found that, that would be absolutely amazing. it would be nice to find a second assemblage of wig curlers like that on a washington site. that would mean something. i'm not sure why. b -- big being that
wigs. any other questions? all right, thank you very much and thank you for hearing us out. be an advocate for the park and the 300th anniversary and let's make something wonderful happen here. thanks. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter for information on our schedule and keep up with the latest history news. tonight on afterwards -- >> steve jobs can come and sell this product and forever be associated with it, when that is just a shade of the story. he was certainly hands-on and had a lot to do with it, but the truth is even the iphone never would have happened without scores of people working around the clock. >> motherboard magazine senior
editor brian merchant on the creation and development of the iphone in his book "the one device." thatrt of this story is the iphone was born as the software interaction paradigm was born behind steve jobs' back. this group of guys, like a document in the book, started basically experimenting. it was freewheeling research. it was fun and wild kind of stuff. they had this crazy projector rate they were using to hack different products together for well become the iphone. >> watch afterwards tonight at 's bookstern on c-span2; tv. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider.
hi, my name is michael quine. president and ceo of the museum of the american revolution. i'm standing on the plaza of the museum at the corner of third and chestnut street in old city philadelphia, the headquarters of the revolution. this is where delegates came to protest against british oppression. this is where the declaration of independence was written, just 200 yards away at independence hall. this really is the most central element of the american revolution, the birth of our nation, which is why this museum is located here. just down the street from me is the first bank of the united states. that is alexander hamilton's branch bank when he launched our nation's banking system. it is also the first building constructed by the united states of america. we truly are where the nation began and it is the right place
to tell the entire story of the american revolution, which is our mission in this museum. right behind me you will see cannons from the era. this is part of the city's collection. everyone is old enough that it could have been used to fight the revolution. on the wall behind me easy card stone the- carved in core concepts, the inspiring lofty ideals of equality, freedom, liberty, and self-government which is the whole purpose of the american revolution. it began in 1776, but the revolution continues to this day. having looked at the onset -- outside of the museum, let's go in. we are entering the entrance rotunda of the museum. this is a wonderful, classical, welcoming space. the architect was robert stern,
and we selected him because he so thoroughly understands classical architecture. not everyone it to copy from a building from antiquity, fully wanted the same sense of scale and proportion and stature. he delivered the roughly. in fact, this rotunda is named in his honor. let's go upstairs. the design of these stairs is intentional to evoke curved stairways are some of the more elegant residential homes of the colonial and early republic period. they also welcome visitors to the second for aetrium where our exhibits are. somee atrium you see magnificent paintings. these are paintings that are historic and the capture the spirit of the american revolution. the one you're looking at now is by harrington fitzgerald, a
pennsylvania artist. he painted this in the early 20th century. this is his depiction of washington's army marching in the valley forge for what was to be a very terrible winter encampment after the british captured philadelphia. behind me is a magnificent tainting, but it is a copy. the original was by a frenchman. the original hangs in versailles. this was created in the middle of the 19th century, this copy was. what it shows is the siege at yorktown. since a french artist painting this for the king, the most prominent individual's general roshambo. our general george washington is behind into the left. in many ways it does capture the critical importance -- critically important role the french fleet not only at yorktown but throughout the
american revolution. one other feature that attracted us to this painting is it shows a tent. this is a french tend. it looks more fully on it. sir -- napoleonic. we love the fact it did show how armies traveled living in tents. one of our crown jewels of our collection is george washington's war tent. [crowd noise] >> sunday on american history tv, toward the museum of the american revolution at philadelphia, located two blocks from independence hall. president and ceo michael quine and scott stephenson, vice president of collections join us on thursday evening to showcase the museum's artifacts and answer your questions about the revolution.
our coverage airs sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern here on american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. next, historians discuss the underground railroad conductors inspiring between new york, new jersey and maryland between 1835 and 1865. this was part of a conference at cambridge, maryland couples it by the national parks service and the harriet tubman underground railroad conference. it is about 90 minutes. >> all right, folks. we will get started here. good morning and welcome to the session. the title is "creators of the underground railroad." we are glad to have you here and looking forward to some good papers for my colleagues and some good question and answer at the end. i am christopher bonner, assistant professor of history at the university of maryland in college park.