Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Public Archaeology and Local History at Messiah College

As some of you may recall, we recently revamped our public history concentration at Messiah College to include several new courses and a host of non-history courses that we believe students will find useful in the public history field. One of the courses that we have re-purposed for the new concentration is David Pettegrew's archaeology course. For the past several years Pettegrew and his students have been excavating at a nearby early 19th century farmhouse, but as word gets out about Pettegrew's passion for local archaeology projects and Messiah College's commitment to public history, several other historic sites have asked for help in conducting excavations.

This semester Pettegrew's class will be doing archaeological work at the Trindle Spring Lutheran Church in Mechanicsburg, PA and a few other sites in the area. Here is a taste of a recent Carlisle Sentinel article on the dig.

That piece of land with the cemetery sits across the street from the current Trindle Spring Lutheran Church building. Ricci said it is believed the original structure is near a limestone wall on cemetery grounds.
The only problem now is proving it.
That’s where Messiah College Professor David Pettegrew and his team of historical archaeology students come in.
Pettegrew, who does archaeological digs in the Mediterranean, is preparing his class for a trip to the Mechanicsburg site on Saturday, Sept. 28, to see if they can discover exactly where the old church is located.
“We’re looking at answering a specific question — can we locate the original foundation of the church log cabin?” Pettegrew said. “According to records that date back to the early 1900s, which may actually reflect observations from earlier, we think the church is located in the southwest corner of the cemetery. There’s a good reason for that this being the original place is true. The area is slightly elevated (above the cemetery grounds).”

Yet another reason to study history at Messiah College!