Archaeology students visit the Mayflower Society House

This past week, a group of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in UMass-Boston's Summer Field School at the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research have been doing surveys and shovel tests on the Mayflower Society House property. Directed by Dr. David Landon and Dr. Christa Beranek, the Field School is now in its 5th year in Plymouth, and is part of an ongoing effort to locate as much evidence of the 17th Century community as possible.

As some of you may be aware, Dr. Landon and Dr. Beranek were the 2016 recipients of the GSMD "Pilgrim Academic Research Award." The project is a formal partnership with Plimoth Plantation and the Town of Plymouth, with other organizations, such as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the Mayflower Society, Pilgrim Hall, and the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, being closely consulted. Last summer, working at the edges of Burial Hill along School Street, the UMass team discovered evidence that suggested being close to the John Alden or Myles Standish houses.

The work on our property is very preliminary, and if the shovel tests reveal areas that deserve a more complete excavation, a formal proposal will be submitted to the Society for our consideration, and for follow up work in 2018. 

While the group has pulled lots of tests, most of the work will be done in the following months through research and studying the findings. The students have found several items of interest that they were able to decipher including shards of mid 18th Century salt glazed fragments, potentially pieces of stoneware from the Winslow house, and a rhyolite scraper, which would be used by natives to carve animal hides. This tool is hard to date for sure, but an item like this would pre-date the Winslow house, and potentially the arrival of the Pilgrims.

For more details on this project, check their blog at, their Facebook page at, and on Instagram at UMBArchaeology.

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