Digging with Cultural Connections

I started my internship opportunity rather timid and reserved, because I did not think that I was worthy to be part of such a dynamic and accomplished Jamestown Rediscovery field team. I felt I had limited education and experience in this area. With an Associate degree in Mechanical Engineering, skills and knowledge in archeology were lacking. This opportunity, however, would provide an exciting challenge.

Kalen Anderson points to brick rubble in a test unit’s profile, which is likely related to the construction of the Church Tower.
Kalen Anderson points to brick rubble in a test unit’s profile, which is likely related to the construction of the Church Tower.

David Givens, the Director of Archeology, warmly welcomed me as part of the team. The mentorship of senior staff and the field team quickly equipped me with the necessary skills and techniques to become proficient in digging a unit. I can comfortably say that I now know how to properly trowel and complete a cleaning pass. Time spent at the North Tower unit allowed me to develop and implement these skills and techniques.

In 2016, a trash deposit containing brigandine armor and native ceramics was found in the unit where I was working. The trash deposit revealed to me that Jamestown is bigger than one narrative, one story, or one culture. My unit partner, Caitlin Delmas, and I continued to work through historical layers containing brick rubble, which held evidence of multiple construction events that took place regarding the historic church at Jamestown. A memorable project that we worked on was the excavation of the plaster related to the 1617 church. This project is discussed in our “Intact Rubble Layers Offer Insight into the Churchyard–Dig Deeper, Episode 42” video on Youtube.

I also had the responsibility of giving public tours. As an introvert, this helped me improve my communication skills and historical knowledge about the people of Jamestown. I was enlightened by stories about John Smith, John Rolfe, Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan, Opechancanough, Sir George Yeardley and many others. I also realized that engaging with the public sparks my curiosity and encourages me to seek truth about history. 

As the archeological internship comes to an end, I was able to assist the field team with labeling artifacts from the “Angela” collection. This was done in collaboration with Colonial National Historical Park. Although the labeling process can be seen by others as mundane and time consuming, I am in awe of some of the seemingly Native American artifacts that have been excavated–arrowheads, lithics, local pipe stems, pipe bowls, beads, and many other items that have stories of their own.

Looking back on the experience that I had working with the team at Jamestown Rediscovery, I will always remind myself why I was given an opportunity of such magnitude. I understand that I have a purpose and mission, to advocate for and steward my culture and traditions. This internship provided me with a new understanding of the importance of cultural knowledge and identity. The teamwork, dedication, perseverance and hard work that I have been a part of during my time at Jamestown Rediscovery will continue to show throughout my continued education and career endeavors.

– Kalen C. Anderson, Jamestown Rediscovery Intern.

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