Posted by: signalhillarchaeology | July 10, 2009

Piecing together the past

My name is Tamara Foster and I am a fourth year Archaeology student at Memorial University, taking part in the 2009 Field School at Signal Hill. Until this summer I have spent countless hours in classrooms, labs and the library studying and learning all about the archaeological sites in Newfoundland, and finally being able to see one in person and be a part of the dig has afforded me an entirely new outlook on all that they have to offer. Not only recovering artifacts from the site, but adding new information to the written record, engaging in conversations and sharing insights with experienced archaeologists has been an enlightening experience that I will never forget.

I find myself trying to imagine what brought that one artifact to its resting place, was it a traumatic event, or just carelessly tossed aside. Whatever the events, for some reason it shows itself to me, and I must carefully remove it from the ground and appreciate the value of it. As we dig deeper trying to fully expose the wall of the barracks, I try to imagine its full size, the number of soldiers and their families that dwelled there, and the day to day trials that they encountered.

Field school students carefully digging to expose a stone wall

Field school students carefully digging to expose a stone wall

Archaeologists try to piece together the past, to make sense of what we find in the present in order for those of the future to more fully comprehend what they have never experienced. This is why we dig, this is why we fight for the protection of archaeological sites and hope that one day if we didn’t have the chance, some one else will stand up and fight for those sites. We dig because we want to know why things happened, what people were doing, and we realize that the past is just as important as the future.

I am extremely privileged to be a part of this history and by sharing our stories and contributing to the historical record, we enable those in the future to more fully ascertain what went on, and where they can continue to explore in hopes of piecing together the past.

–Tamara Foster (Student)


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