Monday, September 18, 2017

Digging It, Out and About

Last week I made another trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon—for a graveside remembrance of sorts. 

As part of the research for my new book BURIED LIVES: THE ENSLAVED PEOPLE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON’S MOUNT VERNON, I participated in the current archeological dig on the grounds of Mount Vernon.  It is taking place in the cemetery where some of Washington’s enslaved people are buried.  During the dig, they are not disturbing any remains.  The goal is to find out how many graves are on the site.  I am working on revisions on my book which will include my experience in the dig.    

This isn’t my first experience volunteering on an archeological dig.  This is my third time as an amateur archeologist.  Real archeology does not resemble an Indiana Jones event.  The real thing is back-breaking work.  Mostly it consists of shoveling, lifting heavy buckets of dirt, sifting…and then repeat.  But it is a thrill because you never know what will be in this bucket of dirt.

I write about real people, so it is necessary for me to bond emotionally with them.  If I don’t care about them, neither will my readers.   So I felt I must go and join the dig in the cemetery at Mount Vernon.  And I did need to go.  For me.  For the book.  For the enslaved people I’ve written about and come to know. 

Carla Killough McClafferty

I'm using a trowel to uncover one of the grave shafts in the cemetery for the enslaved people of Mount Vernon.

I loved every minute of this experience.

The archeologists are finding a lot of Native American artifacts.  This 5000 year old arrowhead had just been uncovered!  Wow, what a treat to see this pulled from the ground.


Carmela Martino said...

Wow! What an amazing find. Thanks for sharing about this with us, Carla.

Joanna said...

What a terrific hands-on experience... visceral.... I know moments like this can infuse our stories with something special.

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

Thanks, Carmela and Joanna, it was a special experience.