Meet the Staff!!

If you would like to learn more about the CART staff and the various projects we have all worked in our years of archaeology, please check out the “Meet the Staff” page at the top or click here.

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Finding Tin-glaze

by Kayla MarciniszynSenior Field and Lab Archaeologist

1750HisCerEdtFlmRecent excavations at Site 44FX0704 in the Old Colchester Park and Preserve (OCPP) have unearthed a large number of tin-glazed coarse earthenware sherds. Tin-glazed earthenware, as the name suggests, is a ceramic that contains tin oxide in the glaze and has a very soft, buff to reddish colored paste (the body of the ceramic). The tin oxide creates a unique “M&M-like” shell over the paste when viewed in cross section and easily chips off. The glaze is most often either white or blue in color and is commonly found with a hand-painted or sponged decoration in various colors. Production of tin-glazed coarse earthenware in Europe began in sixteenth century and continued until the early nineteenth century. The ware was produced all over Western Europe and has a variety of names depending on the country of origin. For example, the term “Delftware” is used for Dutch tin-glazed, “Faience” for French, and “Majolica” for Spanish.


English or Dutch tin-glazed usually has a lighter, buff colored paste while Spanish and French tin-glazed often has a reddish paste. In the Middle Atlantic, tin-glazed earthenware is common to colonial period sites and is usually assumed to be either Dutch or English made. Dutch tin glaze is more common earlier in the colonial period and English varieties more common in the later colonial period, particularly from the eighteenth century onward.

The decorations found on tin-glazed earthenware are often diagnostic and therefore a great way to determine the time period of a site. The sherds found on the site on OCPP are decorated with both blue hand-painted and purple sponged decorations. Hand-painted decorations can be diagnostic depending on the motif or the design but some have been difficult to determine during cataloging due to the small size of the ceramic fragment. Tin-glazed with a sponged decoration has been useful in narrowing the more broad production range of the coarse earthenware; according to Jefferson Patterson Park Museum, sponged tin glaze has a production range of 1708 to 1786 with peak popularity between the years of 1730-1760. Coupled with the production dates of creamware we have uncovered on the site and the absence of pearlware, we can most likely date Site 44FX0704 occupation from the mid to late eighteenth century.

Further Readings:

Tin-glazed Earthenware – Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

Ceramic Type Collection – Historical Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History

Tin-Glazed Earthenware – The Port Tobacco Archaeological Project


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Day of Archaeology!!

Today is the International Day of Archaeology.  Check out the website here or click on the image below to see archaeology happening all over the world, so many interesting sites and peoples.  We will be adding some information to the site, so others can see CART in action.


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CART Biweekly Update

an update from last week…17July2015

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DC Day of Archaeology 

if you are looking for something to do today, why not swing by and say hi to us and lots of other local archaeologists at the annual Archaeology in the Community, Day of  Archaeology.  #DCarchfest.


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The Process of Water Screening at OCPP

by Jean Cascardi – CART Crew Chief

A little over a month ago one of our loyal volunteers, Emiko, reported on a tiny seed bead she had found while picking through materials in the CART lab. Many of you may be wondering what picking is and how we come by this material.

During excavations at the “Cemetery Site” we have changed up the methodology in our screening and collection processes. The site has intact cultural fill layers above the brick foundation which we have been carefully exposing since January. The diagnostic artifacts do not date later than the 1770’s, therefore we are treating these layers similar to the way we treat other archaeological features at Old Colchester Park and Preserve (OCPP). The soil is first screened on site through ¼” mesh over tarps, removing larger artifacts and materials we commonly discard (brick bits, mortar, and small oyster shell).The soil is then placed in sandbags to be removed from the site. These sandbags end up in a storage facility we have at the Enyedi Property.


About twice a week one of the CART members takes on the task of water screening this soil through window mesh screen. That’s right, window mesh. The same type of screen we use at our homes on windows- the very small screen most tiny bugs cannot even slip through. Typically we empty a sandbag into two buckets, add baking soda, water, and stir. The baking soda helps to break down clay soils making it eaisier to pass the soil through the small gauge screen. We call this process deflocculation. The screener also has to be careful to not mix up proveniences- or where on site the soil has came from. When we bring the bags in from the field we put them in piles being sure to keep the FS (field specimen) numbers together. The FS is assigned in the field and we use this number to trace the materials all the way through to the cataloging process. For each level of soil within a test unit, CART assigns a separate FS number for ¼” dry screened artifacts, WMS (window mesh screen) samples, and flotation samples.


After the soil has had time to deflocculate, helped by the agitation of stirring, the buckets of water and mud is dumped into a ¼” screen covered with window screen, held up by saw horses, over a garbage can. The garbage can is meant to collect the silt and other materials too small to even stay in the window screen. Staff then uses a garden hose, sprays the soil and gently pushes the wet soil through the mesh. Repeating this until all the bags with corresponding FS numbers have been processed.


Every once in awhile during the screening, before bringing the samples back to the lab the screener will find one of the small artifacts we are attempting to save- beads, seeds, lead shot, straight pins, fish bone or scale, other faunal bone, glass, ceramic, microdebitage, and shell.



The material is then removed from the larger screen and brought inside the Enyedi Barn where the window screen is laid flat to dry before it is packed up and brought back to the lab. Once in the lab it is checked in by staff and will eventually make it to the lab table to be gone over (picked) with the greatest of care.

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Day of Archaeology in D.C.

Please join CART and other community groups in D.C. on 18 July 2015 for a day filled with fun and information about archaeology in and around D.C.   Click here or on the image below for more information about Archaeology in the Community.   Hope to see you there!!


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