Dec 15, 2012

In Small Things Forgotten


(NYTimes) The past survives all around us. The trick is recognizing it. Empty fields are usually empty fields, but sometimes they turn out to be former battlefields, slave villages or farms with dead buried along the palisade. As an archaeologist in Virginia, recognizing the past among the present is my job. And often, the past I uncover is related to the Civil War.
Many people are surprised to learn that archaeologists are interested in such relatively recent events; they think my job description focuses on Indian mounds and, perhaps, hidden treasure. The Civil War, in the popular mind, is the ultimate in thoroughly documented history, relegated to memorials and manicured battlefields, with little left to reveal, especially after relic hunters and development companies have worked over the land. It may seem that way, but it is not the case. Continued