This weekend, we gathered a small who’s who of Dismal Swamp maroon archaeology to revisit the Nameless Site (that’s its name) in the southern Refuge. Prof Dan Sayers, pioneer of archaeology in the Swamp interior,* organized the shindig and brought along a film crew for an upcoming TV documentary about maroons.**
Jordan Riccio, Justin Uehlein, Karl Austin and I each excavated at Nameless over multiple seasons.
Emily and I have been concentrating our efforts over the last few months 32 km away in the northern Refuge so coming south was a great chance for comparative observations.
Nameless, at about 20 acres, is significantly larger than the northern islands. It rises a bit higher out of the water too and boasts a more open understory. Yet, the islands in the South and North have similar soil profiles, similar artifacts and similarly remote positions in the historic swamp.
Even though this was not a day for collecting hard data, the trek to experience the place again, to walk through the location of a large 17th-19th century maroon settlement and to catch up with colleagues was well worth the effort.
And, the film crew and all their equipment made it out of the swamp only a little worse for wear.
*Elaine Nichols (one of Joan Gero’s students) was the first archaeologist to study a site associated with Dismal Swamp maroons. The island she investigated lies in a drained area of former swamp outside the Refuge, rather than in the extant morass.
**We’re told we can expect to see it in February 2017 for Black History Month.