New Exhibit Case Up In "Layers of Time"

By Zach Whalen, College of the Atlantic intern

On March 9th we installed a new case to the Layers of Time exhibit hall. This case is the culmination of a six week project by fellow intern Rachel Heasly and myself. We have been working with the collection of artifacts from the Ewing-Bragdon site digs from 2008 and 2009. The new case shows some of the most resent finds in the Abbe collection and illustrates how modern archeological methods can find more information about a site by looking at everything, including the smallest fish bones, to create a complete picture.

As the collections intern, I got to go through all the boxes of material found at the site and pick out what needed to go in the case for display. Having washed and cataloged a lot of the material beforehand gave me a sense of what was at the site and what story it told. I spent quite some time working with pottery from the site and refitting pieces to form a larger portion of the vessel. I also got to look at the more mundane items, like a pile of fish and bird bones that were blackened from being charred or stark white as the result of being cooked at high temperature. Learning more about the whole process of taking artifacts from the ground – cleaning them, cataloging them, and finally picking out a few to put on display – has been a wonderful experience.

We also got to design the poster that go with the case, finding pictures from the digs and writing about the site and what we have found from digging there. Getting the format just right and making sure to include all the information was a challenge but a good one that expanded the way I look at museum exhibits. The biggest challenge for me was to outline a profile of Feature One, which is shown in the side panel for the exhibit, so that everyone can see how an archeologist sees the layers of soil and shell. Over all, this project has been very rewarding and I encourage everyone to come and check it out when you are at the museum.