Cornelius' Corner:

"Digging into History!"

Cornelius’ Corner: “Digging into History!”

Sifting excavated soil for small artifacts.

Hi everybody,

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my log lately, resting up after the Archaeology Festival! I had such a great time meeting all of the visitors who came to participate in the annual festival here in the park.

West Chester University students excavating.

Despite the tropical levels of humidity and threatening storm clouds, over 450 people came out to learn about archaeology and try their hand at digging for the past! We had four different excavations in the historic area around the Grist Mill and Miller’s House. The biggest was the continuing excavations of the Trimble House barn ruins. We also excavated near the Trimble House outbuilding #1 (also known as the brew house) and the Archive.

We found many different artifacts that help us understand what people used to eat, including pig foot bones, sheep teeth, chicken bones, and clam shells. The bones are cool, but I think my favorite find was a worn stub of slate pencil. It may not seem like a big thing, but it tells us that kids were here learning things sometime in the 1800s. I like to think that we would have been good friends!

Reconstructing ceramics.

When they weren’t getting their hands dirty at the screens, festival-goers were able to learn how artifacts are cleaned once they are excavated out of the ground. They worked hard to clean artifacts found in previous excavations, which is a huge help to our archaeology volunteers! After cleaning artifacts, visitors got to learn how artifacts can be reconstructed by trying a ceramics reconstruction activity with broken mugs, bowls, and platters. Our visitors found that it was harder than it looks to hold pieces and glue them at the same time, so having a friend to help out is important!

Learning how to illustrate artifacts.

Many families were very excited to learn more about faunal remains (think bones, scales, feathers, and shells) and how they can be used to understand what people ate, farmed, and hunted in the past. This station was manned by our volunteer Martha P., who said that the big favorite of the day was the deer skull! I was very relieved to see that there weren’t any snake bones or scales included in the display. At the same time, I was disappointed that I wasn’t allowed to help out with the kids’ dig. My coworkers told me that nobody would want to excavate a snake, but digging in the sand looked like so much fun!

A big thanks goes out to all of our friends in the community who helped us put together this awesome event, including special thanks to the Delaware County Planning Department for being a co-host, West Chester University’s anthropology students for helping with excavations, Garnet Valley High School’s Interact Club for helping with the kids dig and ceramics reconstruction activities, and Amerihealth employees for making sure that our visitors got event brochures and were able to move back and forth across Cheyney Road safely!

Thank you, Amerihealth volunteers!

If you missed out on the Archaeology Festival, you can still join us for the Fall Harvest Festival on Saturday October 7th from 10am to 4pm. We are focusing on food this year, so it is sure to be a really fun day!

Your friendly neighborhood corn snake,

– Cornelius

P.S. If you want to get more involved in our ongoing archaeology program, just email my coworker Jessica at We conduct excavations on Wednesdays and some Saturdays, and we always need help cleaning all of the artifacts that we find!

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