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Solving Historical Puzzles

by Haley Sabolcik

I never imagined when I began working at Historic Sandusky that I would end up spending days digging in the dirt behind the house and holding plates and bottles that haven’t been held since the 1800s. But when the opportunity arose to join in on the archaeological excavation of the site of the original kitchen to the house I knew I had to be involved. There is no better feeling than finding an interesting artifact while screening dirt, the elation of finding what feels like a needle in a haystack, or watching the bricks of the building’s walls slowly be unearthed to reveal the original blueprint of the structure. I didn’t know going in that archaeology would be so challenging, but because of that I never realized how rewarding it would be either. Every artifact feels like a triumph.

Now, I even get to work on mending the broken pieces back together into plates, teacups, and bottles. I like to think that I’m good at jigsaw puzzles, but like the lab director told me when I started, “artifact mending is like trying to build a puzzle without ever seeing the box and also half the pieces are missing”. While that can get frustrating sometimes, it also means that the excitement of placing even the tiniest piece is greater than any puzzle I’ve ever put together. You get to watch as slowly the mended piece grows and grows until you can recognize it as a teacup or a saucer and I like to imagine the occasions that the family would use this porcelain cup for or the conversations that were had over dinner on this specific plate 200 years ago.

While it may be cliche, archaeology brings history to life in a way that I’ve never experienced before. It is fascinating that you can track the styles and eras of the building through the artifacts that are found there. Different styles of ceramics or glass were popular in different time periods so you can clearly see the progression of time and styles through the dinner set that the family owned or the type of nails found that were used to repair different features of the building. Everything found at the dig site paints a vivid and tangible picture of what life was like during the building’s lifetime. Being involved in the excavation of the kitchen site here at Sandusky has ignited my passion for history even further than any class I’ve taken or museum I’ve been to before.


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