Tag Archive for croucher

Wesleyan to Host Archaeology Fair, Oct. 18

The Connecticut State Archaeology Fair, hosted at Wesleyan, will give the public a close-up look at projects happening across the state. The theme is "Creating Community."

The Connecticut State Archaeology Fair, hosted at Wesleyan, will give the public a close-up look at projects happening across the state. The theme is “Creating Community.”

Many people think of archaeology as taking place in exotic locations overseas, not in their own backyard. Yet archaeology projects are continuously being carried out all over the state of Connecticut.

On Oct. 18, Wesleyan’s Archaeology Program and Office of Community Partnerships will present the Connecticut State Archaeology Fair to give the public a close-up look at some of these projects. Part of Archaeology Awareness Month in October, the fair will feature many hands-on exhibits and activities for adults and kids. Presenters will represent a full spectrum of archaeology in the state, ranging from local tribes and community groups to educational institutions and commercial businesses.

Beman Triangle dig

Wesleyan students dig for artifacts at the “Beman Triangle” near campus.

The fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Exley Science Center. While it has been held elsewhere in the state in the past, this is Wesleyan’s first year hosting it. This year’s theme is “Creating Community.”

According to Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, “Connecticut has amazing archaeological resources, and many projects being done all around the state, but a lot of it goes under the public radar. This is a great opportunity for members of the public to learn about archaeology, and see first-hand some of the cool work going on right here in Connecticut.”

Croucher Speaks on “Unearthing Community” Exhibit at Russell Library

Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of archaology, assistant professor of anthropology, spoke to Middletown residents at the Russell Library Sept. 12 about her lab's "Unearthing Community" exhibit that is on display this week. The exhibit explores the lives of 19th century Middletown residents through the artifacts and materials that have been excavated by Croucher, students and local community members at the Beman Triangle site near Wesleyan's campus.

Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of anthropology, spoke to Middletown residents at the Russell Library Sept. 12 about her lab’s “Unearthing Community” exhibit that is on display this week. The exhibit explores the lives of 19th century Middletown residents through the artifacts and materials that have been excavated by Croucher, students and local community members at the Beman Triangle site near Wesleyan’s campus.

The houses built on this land from the 1840s were home to a community of African Americans living in Middletown, tied to the nearby A.M.E. Zion Church. Artifacts discovered in the area from 19th century trash pits shed new light on the lives of the community members, and the longstanding relationship between the church, Middletown and Wesleyan.

The houses built on this excavated land were home to a community of African Americans living in Middletown, tied to the nearby A.M.E. Zion Church. Artifacts discovered in the area from 19th century trash pits shed new light on the lives of the community members, and the longstanding relationship between the church, Middletown and Wesleyan.

Learn more about Professor Croucher’s research in this past Wesleyan Connection article or in this video. (Photos by Ryan Heffernan ’16)

 

Summer Session Course Digs for Middletown History

Students enrolled in the June Summer Session course, Field Methods in Archaeology, participated in several excavations on the triangle of land between Vine Street, Cross Street, and Knowles Avenue, known as the Beman Triangle. Several African-Americans built homes and lived in this area in mid-19th century. Although few above-ground traces now suggest the presence of this community, material about their lives survives in the record of their trash and other archaeological features that remain beneath the backyards of the houses on this land.

The course is taught by Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archeology, and provides general training in historical archaeological field methods. Through practical work, students learn excavation techniques, field recording, artifact analysis, and how to integrate relevant documentary and oral historical sources into archaeological interpretations.

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Students Co-Curate Local Archaeology Exhibit for Middlesex Historical Society

Hyunjin "Chelsey" Cho '13, Sarah Chrystler '13, Amy Cao '15 and Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, hold artifacts collected from the "Beman Triangle" site near Wesleyan. The pieces will be on exhibit April 4-May 31 in downtown Middletown.

Hyunjin “Chelsey” Cho ’13, Sarah Chrystler ’13, Amy Cao ’15 and Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, hold artifacts collected from the “Beman Triangle” site near Wesleyan. The pieces will be on exhibit April 4-May 31 in downtown Middletown.

Between Vine Street, Cross Street and Knowles Avenue near Wesleyan, an innocuous looking triangle of land forms the “Leverett Beman Historic District,” listed on the State Register of Historic Places and part of the Connecticut Freedom Trail. This area is the site of one of the earliest planned African American communities in the United States.

Blue glass artifact from the Beman site.

Students discovered this cobalt blue glass shard at the Beman site.

During the spring of 2012, Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, led an archeological excavation at the “Beman Triangle” site. Several Wesleyan students and community members participated in the dig and unearthed dozens of materials relating to healthcare and everyday practices, such as cooking and dining.

On April 4, Wesleyan will partner with the Middlesex County Historical Society to present an exhibit featuring many artifacts from the excavation. “Unearthing Community: Archaeology of the Beman Triangle” is curated by Croucher and three students: Sarah Chrystler ’13, Amy Cao ’15 and Hyunjin “Chelsey” Cho ’13. Cho is double majoring in art history and economics and has helped curate exhibits at the Davison Art Center and Smithsonian Institution.

“Artifacts from these excavations help to build a picture of daily life in these households during the late 19th century,” Croucher explained. “Materials from one of the houses also has provided a range of artifacts which seem to relate to late-19th century pharmaceutical production, opening up conversations as to the nature of healthcare at this time.”

Multiple houses dotted the Beman Triangle landscape in the 19th century

Sarah Croucher Discusses Community Archaeology in the Beman Triangle

In this video, Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, discusses her community archaeology project in the “Beman Triangle” in Middletown, Conn. The houses built on this land from the 1840s were home to a community of African Americans living in Middletown, tied to the nearby A.M.E. Zion Church. Artifacts discovered in the area from 19th century trash pits shed new light on the lives of the community members, and the longstanding relationship between the church, Middletown and Wesleyan. Read more about Croucher’s project in this past Wesleyan Connection article.

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5 Questions With . . . Sarah Croucher on Middletown’s Beman Triangle

Assistant professor Sarah Croucher is leading an archeological dig in the Beman Triangle, located between Vine Street, Cross Street, and Knowles Ave. Local resident Leverett Beman divided the land in 1847, and sold these plots off to other African-American families. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we ask 5 Questions of Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. Croucher will lead an archaeological dig on the site of the Beman Triangle in Middletown on April 28-29. The public is welcome to attend. To view photos of the dig on April 14-15 click here

Q: Professor Croucher, what exactly is the Beman Triangle and what is its significance to the history of Middletown?

A: The Beman Triangle is the land between Vine Street, Cross Street, and Knowles Ave., where homes have existed since the early 19th century. Local historian Liz Warner has shown that something very important happened here in the mid- to late-19th century. Leverett Beman, son of the first Pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church in Middletown, had the land divided into plots by a surveyor in 1847, and sold these plots off to other African-American families. This seems to be a deliberately planned community; a way that members of the AME Zion Church could become property owners (something that remains hard for many people today), and live as neighbors in a relatively prosperous community. The Beman Triangle is of national importance as very few African-Americans were able to go through a similar community-building process in the mid-nineteenth century, when they still lacked U.S. citizenship and slavery was still legal in many states. Although the houses might not look like much today, the site is an important testament to the lives of the nineteenth century Beman Triangle community.

Q:  What do we know already about the AME Zion Church community?

A: There has been some wonderful historical research done on the Beman Triangle community by local historians Liz Warner and Janice Cunningham, as well as Wesleyan alumnus Jesse Nasta as part of his thesis. This work has shown us how active the residents were politically, in ways that are traceable through historical documents.

Students, Local Community Participate in Archaeology Dig

Students enrolled in Wesleyan's "Middletown Materials" class let an archeological excavation April 14-15 at the Beman Triangle on campus. The Beman Triangle is the land between Vine Street, Cross Street, and Knowles Ave., where homes have existed since the early 19th century. Pictured, teaching assistant Miriam Manda '12 helps local resident Mark with setting up a site.

Croucher Co-Edits Archaeology of Capitalism

Book edited by Sarah Croucher

Sarah Croucher co-edited the book, The Archaeology of Capitalism in Colonial Contexts, published in 2011. Croucher is assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

The Archaeology of Capitalism in Colonial Contexts: Postcolonial Historical Archaeologies explores the complex interplay of colonial and capital formations throughout the modern world. The authors present a critical approach to this topic, trying to shift discourses in the theoretical framework of historical archaeology of capitalism and colonialism through the use of postcolonial theory.

This work does not suggest a new theoretical framework as such, but rather suggests the importance of revising key theoretical terms employed within historical archaeology, arguing for new engagements with postcolonial theory of relevance to all historical archaeologists as the field de-centers from its traditional location. More information on the book is online here.

Fellowship has Croucher Focused on 19th Century East Africa

Second from left, Sara Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, received a SAR Weatherhead Fellowship to Study Archaeology in 19th Century East Africa. She's pictured here with Rachel Miller-Howard '10, third from left.

Second from left, Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, received a Weatherhead Fellowship to study the archaeology of 19th Century East Africa. She's pictured at the Ujiji excavation site in Western Tanzania during 2008 with, from left, Hajj M. Hajj, Tanzanian research associate; Rachel Miller-Howard ’10; and Florah Kessy, an M.A. student, from the University of Dar es Salaam.

As an archaeologist investigating 19th century sites in Zanzibar and Tanzania, it was impossible for Sarah Croucher to ignore the thousands of shreds of locally-produced and imported ceramics unearthed every day of excavations.

For archaeologists, these materials are vital to interpreting the social history of 19th century Islamic colonialism in East Africa.

“Many key questions remain uninvestigated, particularly in regard to how newly shared Zanzibar identities emerged during the 19th Century, which intersected with gender, religion, class and sexuality,” Croucher explains.

Sarah Croucher working in a trench

Sarah Croucher and research associate Hajj M. Hajj excavate at the site of Ujiji.

Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, has been awarded a nine-month Weatherhead Fellowship by the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, N.M. Resident scholars approach their research from anthropology or from related fields such as history, sociology, art and philosophy, with fellowships providing scholars with “time to think and write about topics important to the understanding of humankind.” Scholars are provided with housing and office space on the SAR campus in Santa Fe.

Croucher was awarded the fellowship to complete writing up the findings of her research, tied together into a project titled “Consuming Colonialism: Archaeological Investigations of Ceramics and Identities in 19th Century East Africa.”

The core of this study results from survey and excavation work Croucher directed in 2003 and 2005 to investigate clove plantation sites on Zanzibar. Further material is drawn from a 2006 survey project along the central caravan route taken by traders during the 19th Century and excavations in 2008 at the site of Ujiji in Western Tanzania, made famous by the expeditions of Stanley and

Archeology Students Rummage though Rubbish For Lab Assignment

Maggie Drowica '12, Ellie Dorsey '12, Jessica Steinke '10 and Anna Crystal '11 rummage through garbage during a In Introduction to Archeology assignment titled "Understanding Garbage - Research and Analysis." (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Maggie Drowica '12, Ellie Dorsey '12, Jessica Steinke '10 and Anna Crystal '11 rummage through garbage during a In Introduction to Archeology assignment titled "Understanding Garbage - Research and Analysis." (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

In Introduction to Archeology, all students were trash-talking their first assignment.

Titled “Understanding Garbage – Research and Analysis,” the laboratory project helped students understand ways archeologists collect and analyze data by rummaging through rubbish and taking note of their findings.