Last week, as we were finalizing preparations for The Archaeology of College Hill, a team of Joukowsky Institute volunteers gathered to do some text excavating on the Quiet Green. This was part of a larger soil testing project, designed to help us measure the levels of different particulates that sifting our dirt releases into the air, and to make sure that those of us digging during the class wouldn’t be exposed to anything undesirable.
As in many areas of New England, the land that now houses Brown’s Main Green and Quiet Green were originally used for more agricultural purposes. Once the site of an orchard, the soil under both Greens had likely been exposed to chemicals and compounds used in older forms of pestcides. Of course, historical (and prehistoric) land-use is just one of many things archaeologists consider when studying a site, and the history of the land that is now college property will be something for students to think about as we begin our excavations. A trip to the special collections and archives here at the John Hay Library is planned for this semester, and early maps of Brown and Providence are just one kind of valuable evidence to be found there. As we had expected, our soil testing results came back free of any harmul substances, so we have been busy selecting and marking out the locations for our trenches. The class beings today, and we hope to break ground on September 15th–check back for many more updates to come!