Meet Debbie Saylor, Research & Collections Director for Indian Steps Museum. Archaeology has always been my passion, especially examining local prehistoric and historic sites along the Susquehanna River.
Upon finding many artifacts, I was not satisfied with just the physical object, but wanted to know who used or made this object, what time period or culture it belonged to, how did these peoples live, communicate, worship and deal with death. Like any good scientific research project, I was able to find answers to my original question, but raised many more upon further investigation.
I must admit, there is an excitement when you find an artifact and realize the last person who used this tool or projectile point was perhaps several thousand years ago. Now there is a moral dilemma: Once a person picks up the artifact, removes it from its provenance (location) what should one do?
I feel it is my responsibility as a research director to teach collectors how to properly identify, document and share data; to inspire appreciation & properly preserve material possession of past cultures.
In order to fulfill Indian Steps mission statement: “to safely guard and preserve these former possession of and monuments to an ancient Indian people; an effort was made to actively engage the public in hands on learning via lectures, workshops and archaeological research.
Prehistoric Archaeology: In 2014, we began our first test pits on Indian Steps property finding a wide range of prehistoric artifacts and time lines. Upon researching the PASS files at the PA State Museum, our property was the first registered site in York, Pennsylvania labeled 36YO001 by Dr. Barry Kent.
Historic Archaeology: 2016 marked our first professional excavation, with Susan Landis, Professional Archaeologist and her team focusing on the historic aspects of Indian Steps. We decided to start with historic documentation to investigate remnants of a very large early 1900’s framed barn, and a cottage called “Siesta Cottage” when John Vandersloot lived at Indian Steps Cabin. We pondered over the old maps and photos, discovered these structures buried right where we speculated.
Members were required to attend an orientation meeting and instructed how to properly excavate and work alongside the professionals in order to produce an “archaeological team”. Over 30 members this summer excavated the framed barn site and reported they enjoyed the opportunity and look forward to future activities.
Next Excavation: Saturday, September 24th, 10:00 AM-
The 2016 Indian Steps Archaeology Program will be offering two excavations:
Instructions will be emailed to all Archaeology Team members on the details of the operation.