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Excavating Princeton and American history

December 20th, 2018

 

On Jan. 3, 1777, British and American forces fought a critical battle of the Revolutionary War on and around the Princeton University campus. This semester, 18 students in the course “Battle Lab: The Battle of Princeton” are using hands-on fieldwork to explore how the battle may have unfolded.

Drawing on their expertise in art, archaeology and American history, Nathan Arrington, associate professor of art and archaeology, and Rachael DeLue, the Christopher Binyon Sarofim ’86 Professor in American Art, are teaching the class.

The course has included many visits to the Princeton Battlefield State Park, where students looked for artifacts using metal detectors, ground-penetrating radar and excavation. Arrington, who is also director of the Program in Archaeology, and DeLue, who is also a professor of art and archaeology and American studies, partnered with a few individuals with expertise related to the fieldwork. Graduate student Isabel Morris is a Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering who uses ground-penetrating radar in her research, and local archaeologists and preservation specialists were on hand to provide insight into the age and usage of materials found on site, such as a musket ball, nails and broken pottery.

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