Campus Transformation

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Broken Pots

Broken Pot ImagesHow do we know this site is as old as it is?  We are currently scouring the archives for information about the Bortons and the Ballingers but, as is often the case, the documentary record doesn’t always provide a clear record of the history of a site.  That’s where archaeology comes in.  And it’s not just the archaeology of this one particular property, it’s the cumulative body of information that archaeologists have collected over the last century that helps us date archaeological sites.  One of the most common artifact types used for dating is ceramics.  Archaeologists have a thorough understanding of the dates when certain ceramic types were made and when we find these types on a site, in a sealed archaeological deposit (or “context”), we can, through association, establish that the deposit dates to at the earliest the same dates that the ceramic type was first made.  We can also reasonably assume that an archaeological deposit that contains significant quantities of a certain ceramic type would not date much later than the last year the ceramic was manufactured and marketed.  Of course, some ceramics may hang around a site much longer as heirloom objects and all of these possibilities must be taken into account when trying to date a site with ceramic evidence.

At the Borton/Ballinger Farmstead Site we’ve identified significant numbers of ceramic sherds, with the earliest type being Staffordshire-type slipware.  This is an earthenware with a buff, yellow or sometimes pale red body that has a clear lead glaze and a characteristic dark slip applied as a decoration in straight and curving lines.  This type of ceramic started being made in the 17th century and was made well into the 18th century.  The decoration on the sherds found on the Rowan College at Burlington campus  suggest the sherds date to the mid-18th century, right before Staffordshire-type slipware generally fell out of favor and was replaced with other more refined wares such as creamware, pearlware and white salt-glazed stonewares.  All of these later ceramic types are also being found at the Borton/Ballinger Farmstead Site, consistent with its occupation in the later 18th and early 19th centuries.