October is Archaeology Month and in Alexandria that means discovering the city’s history below the surface.
Pamela Cressey, the city’s chief archaeologist, has written a book on Alexandria’s heritage trail and will lead a walking tour as part of archaeology month on Oct. 18.
“Archaeology Month is very important because it allows people who have just moved to the area, or those who have lived here and haven’t walked or biked the trail, to discover the important archaeological sites that are located here in Alexandria,” Cressey said. “The city is rich in Revolutionary and Civil War history and we keep discovering interesting sites.”
Two of those sites are not yet open to the public. “We are continuing our work on a Civil War era laundry where slaves lived and worked,” Cressey said. That site is located on Shooter’s Hill, near the Masonic Temple.
Also, archaeologists have identified a brick structure that was found on a property on Quaker Lane where a Civil War fort once stood. “We have identified that structure as a very sophisticated heating system,” Cressey said.
In addition to the walking tour with Cressey, Ruth Reeder conducts various educational programs at the archaeology museum. “We have a variety of programs at the museum for adults and children,” Reeder said.
On Saturday, Oct. 25, the staff will present a Java Jolt power point lecture with Paula Elsey on the local history, rural economy and everyday lives of people in western Fairfax County over the centuries.
“This lecture is primarily for adults but we do presentations for scout troops, school groups and other small groups on request,” Reeder said.
AT THE END of the month, archaeology staff will work with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the Carlyle House, and the Little Maids of History on Historical Alexandria Hauntings. This year’s tour has a bit of a twist.
“We are searching for Black Beard’s skull,” Reeder said.
The pirate reeked havoc on the high seas for quite some time. When he was caught, he was quickly beheaded.
“The legend says that his head was retrieved by some of his compatriots and made into a goblet,” Reeder said. “That goblet was taken on tour and was actually displayed at a tavern in Alexandria. We aren’t sure which tavern but it makes for a good Halloween story.”
For more information about Archaeology Month activities or about Alexandria archaeology in general, go to the web site at 222.alexandriaarchaeology.org or call 703-838-4399. Copies of Cressey’s book, "Walk and Bike the Alexandria Heritage Trail," can be obtained at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum or on the web site; at the Torpedo Factory Art Center; The Lyceum; Gadsby’s Tavern; City Hall’s Citizen’s Assistance office; Carlyle House Museum; Ramsay House Visitor’s Center; Olsson’s Books and Records; Books-a-million; Borders and Barnes and Noble.