Molly Fuchs showed off the pieces of pottery and shards of glass that she found today in the upper layers of soil outside the Fort Pitt Block House.
"This is the first time I've ever witnessed an archeological dig," she said. "Now I've had a chance to take part in one and to find some historic things."
Ms. Fuchs, a Westminster College senior majoring in history, is a summer intern at the Block House. A resident of Pine, she was part of a team of professional archaeologists and volunteers digging and sifting on the site of the oldest structure in Pittsburgh.
The items found in the earth this weekend will tell historians something about the people who lived near the Block House for more than two centuries, Christine Davis said. She is president of Christine Davis Consultants, which is doing the project.
The Block House, built in 1764 as part of the defenses of Fort Pitt, has been owned and maintained by Daughters of the American Revolution since 1894.
The historic structure in Point State Park will mark its 250th birthday next year, and the Allegheny County DAR group is planning to build a memorial garden and walkway on part of the Block House property to mark the anniversary.
The two-day test dig, which will continue Saturday, is an effort to learn more about the history of Pittsburgh's Point and recover any artifacts that are close to the surface.
"I am getting butterflies in my stomach," said Emily Weaver, the Block House curator.
She watched as field lab supervisor Carrianne Love used small trowels and brushes to reveal a square of dark soil. Ms. Love found the remains of an late 19th century ash pit where residents dumped their trash.
Why was that important?
Discarded items found there would tell researchers abut the everyday life of people who lived in the neighborhood when it was a crowded mix of industrial plants, railroad yards and tenement homes, Ms. Davis said.
It also was a sign that material below the ash pit had been undisturbed since the 1800's.
Visitors to Block House interested in trying their hands at sifting soil and looking for artifacts will have a chance to do so on Saturday when the team returns to the site.
Admission to the Block House and the adjoining archeological is free.
Len Barcousky: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1159.