On November 17, students of associate professor Dr. Michelle Laughran’s Historical Methods class participated in an archaeological excavation that took place on the property of the 18th-century Parson Smith House, located at the intersection of River and Anderson Roads in Windham.

Dr. Laughran said that students in her course learn how to interpret historical documents in context. “I thought it would be an interesting twist on the same principle, to try out archaeology, which also heavily depends on context to learn about and analyze historical artifacts,” she says.

The state archaeologists in charge of the excavation wanted a chance to examine the colonial fort located on the site, which was built in 1764 to protect the colonists from attacks. The students assisted in the excavation by trimming roots to search for the floors of the fort, by sifting soil, and by searching for items from the time period that the fort was functioning.

A student of the class, Patricia Brackett, explained that her favorite part of the trip was being able to help out with the excavation itself. Brackett says, “I had no idea something this historical was located not far from SJC. It was very cool to see what the archaeologists do every day, and learning how important the excavation was to them.”

Currently, the project has been halted, as Phase 2 of the excavation has been completed, but the archaeologists in charge of the excavation, after examining their findings, plan to reopen the site in April 2016.

For more about the students’ participation in the excavation, contact Dr. Laughran at mlaughra@sjcme.edu.