Blog entry by Charleston Museum Archaeologist, Martha Zierden
Many folks know Juliana Falk as the Accidental Preservationist, with an active social media account. But Juliana is also an avocational archaeologist, and regular volunteer in the archaeology lab at The Charleston Museum. Juliana became interested in archaeology during renovations of the Chancognie house in downtown Charleston, where she discovered 19th century artifacts glinting on the surface in the rear corner of the property. Consultation with local archaeologists led to a small exploratory dig by The Charleston Museum in the spring of 2016. From the very beginning, we worked with Juliana, not for Juliana. She jumped into the pit and was a quick learner, mastering field techniques and artifact identification in record time.
Juliana then joined us in the lab to process and analyze artifacts from the dig. When that was complete, she continued to volunteer in the lab, analyzing artifacts from a variety of projects. She presented, and co-authored, conference papers. Most recently, she’s assisted with re-analysis of colono wares and European ceramics from the Heyward-Washington house.
Our testing in the rear yard of the Chancognie house revealed a privy pit – one that had been dug by relic collectors in the 1970s. While we don’t know what they took with them, they left behind plenty of artifacts. After our short dig, Juliana and her mother continued to carefully excavate the privy pit, screening all the soil, and recovering a remarkable assemblage of 19th century materials. Among the many ceramic fragments were pieces of Catawba pottery. Juliana commissioned reproduction vessels from Catawba potters, bringing her contributions to South Carolina archaeology full circle.