By Cora Woolsey
It’s five weeks into the project, and to date we have recovered a delightful number of ceramics. As an archaeologist with an interest in ceramic technology, I have found this excavation exhilarating. The pieces we find range mostly from two centimetres across to two millimetres across, but we have had the pleasure of recovering some really impressive pieces of over three centimetres, many of which bear decorations that can be used to identify approximate time periods. One of these pieces came from my unit, measuring just over ten centimetres at its widest point, and decorated with a tool not commonly seen. Another fantastic piece came from a unit in the same area, and was from a lower region of the vessel, something we don’t see too often. All in all, it has really made my summer.
As a graduate student just about to defend my thesis, I have felt honoured and privileged to participate in this excavation. I am about to leave UNB after five years (two for my undergraduate degree, one for my qualifying year, and two for my M.A.) to pursue a PhD at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. I may not get another chance to work in the Maritimes for a number of years, and all my experience of ceramics would have been collections excavated by others, examined in the lab, were it not for the E’se’get Archaeological Project. I have worked as a field archaeologist before, but not on an academic project such as this one, and never once have I found ceramics. In my time at UNB, I have come to understand that ceramics are a special class of artifact in New Brunswick, elusive and fragmentary; only a handful of sites in New Brunswick have yielded a significant amount of ceramics. What this means is that most archaeologists working in New Brunswick never actually encounter ceramics in the field during their entire career. It is not lost on me that I am helping to excavate a kind of site that few New Brunswick archaeologists have the pleasure of experiencing.
My hope for the future is that, though I will leave for Ontario, and whatever archaeological projects await me there, I will maintain ties with the pottery of the Maritimes, and will come back to this subject a more knowledgeable person. Unfortunately, not enough work is being conducted on ceramics from this region, and more specialists are needed to explore the intricacies of Maritimes pottery. But with more graduate students coming through the UNB Master’s archaeology program at UNB, the archaeological community will grow, and many of these archaeologists will choose areas of specialization. Perhaps there will even be another ceramic analyst in New Brunswick by the time I come back! Here’s hoping, anyway.