NEW LEBANON, NY—DigVentures has announced the launch of a new project in partnership with new US-based charity American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR), with support from a National Geographic Society education grant.
The crowdfunded project, known as Digging Darrow, began in 2013 and is the first systematic excavation of Mount Lebanon, the largest and most important Shaker settlement in the U.S. The site is now home to Darrow School, an independent college preparatory school, which has been a conscientious steward of the site’s unique heritage as well as active participants in the project.
DigVentures returned in 2017 for a second excavation, unearthing objects like ink pots, eyeglasses, cookware, bottles, agricultural implements, and more, giving remarkable insights into the lives of the Shakers who settled and lived on the site.
From May 22 to June 3, 2018, the team will return for a third season, to conduct additional landscape surveys and excavations to reveal new evidence about the site.
This effort will be supported by AVAR, an organization dedicated to helping American military veterans with disabilities transition to civilian life through participation in archaeological excavations, and is the first initiative of its kind in the U.S.
Veterans Stephen Humphreys and Mark Reed, AVAR will work with serving soldiers from Fort Drum in Jefferson County, New York, and local veterans to train them in transferable skills, as well as deliver mental and physical well-being through teamwork and social activities.
Together, the combined team aims to uncover new evidence about one of the most intriguing social and religious movements in American history.
“The Shakers founded one of the most intriguing social and religious movements in American history, and Darrow is the most significant site for the study of that movement, so the research is already very exciting,” said DigVentures co-founder Lisa Westcott-Wilkins.
“Working with AVAR will take the project to a whole new level of significance in terms of exploring how the training and pastoral care aspects of the project can provide positive, measurable change for people.”
Humphreys, co-founder of AVAR, said, “We could not be happier to have the support of both the National Geographic Society and DigVentures as we continue to use archaeology to help America’s service personnel and veterans. This site provides great archaeology and training opportunities for our participants, and the support from the Darrow community has been overwhelming. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to help our veteran team build new relationships that will help them integrate into civilian life.”
DigVentures is inviting anyone interested in supporting work with the soldiers, discovering the past, and working with the team at Darrow, to crowdfund the project.
In return, supporters can become part of the dig team through both exclusive digital access to project data and the opportunity to participate in the May 22–June 3 2018 excavation.
DigVentures’ field school program is accredited by the UK’s Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), and since 2012 has trained people from all over the world in archaeological field skills and techniques.
Supporters can join the team in the trenches or the on-site Finds Room, or participate from the comfort of home through DigVentures’ innovative online app, Digital Dig Team, which provides up-to-the-minute news and data from the trenches.
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