From the State Archaeologist

Do you have an interest in exploring the past?  If so, then Massachusetts Archaeology Month is just for you! 

The cover of this year’s Archaeology Month calendar shows four artifacts that were used to serve the customers at a Colonial period tavern in Charlestown that was called the Three Cranes Tavern. When the British burned Charlestown during the Revolutionary War, the tavern fell victim to the flames. The residents of Charlestown later cleared away the rubble, covered the site with sand and created an open market space that was later named City Square and used as a park. I remember my first visit to the archaeological excavation at the tavern site and how excited I was to see all of the “below ground” surviving remnants of the tavern and its privies (outhouses) that had survived under the park. The preservation of such an important site was remarkable in an urban setting. I’d never seen anything like it in Boston before. The tavern’s wine cellar and privies contained thousands of artifacts that, after laboratory analysis by archaeologists, provided a wealth of information about Colonial life before and leading up to the American Revolution. Today, visitors to City Square, near the Freedom Trail in Charlestown, can see a new city park that commemorates the history of the site, including a reconstructed outline in stone of the location of the tavern site.  Interpretive panels at City Square summarize its history. Its new fountain boasts a crane at the top, a further reminder of the Three Cranes Tavern. Be sure to read the summary of the Three Cranes Tavern at the end of this calendar and visit our website for more information about this fascinating site and the stories it told.

This year’s Archaeology Month activities offer many unique, interesting, and fun ways for you to explore the past. Whether you’re interested in Ancient Native American, Colonial, Early American, or Industrial periods, or going behind-the-scenes at archaeology and faunal (zooarchaeology) labs, attending site visits, gallery talks, illustrated lectures, walking and biking tours, exploring exhibits, participating in hands-on events, or learning about archaeology in other parts of the world, there’s at least one or more events this October to help you in your explorations.

Brona Simon
State Archaeologist

Many thanks to:

Thomas M. Blazej, Director of Graphic Communications, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Jeff Surette, Graphic Communications, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Corolette Goodwin, Director, Central Services, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth
Jennifer Poulsen, Archaeological Collections Manager, MHC