A research team from the Institute for Conservation Archeology of the Peabody Museum will probably conclude excavation at the site of a seventeenth-century Harvard dormitory by removing four or five narrow columns of earth from an abandoned well next to the building, Michael E. Roberts, director of the institute, said yesterday.
The excavators will "core" the well, or extract long, narrow samples, following routine approval by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Roberts said.
Excavators decided to core the well when a test core taken last Thursday revealed that the small artifacts in the well did not merit costlier hand excavation, Gray C. Graffan, project archeologist at the institute, said yesterday.
The results of the test core are a disappointment in what has otherwise been an extraordinarily fruitful excavation, Graffan said, adding that normally abandoned wells are a source of large and interesting artifacts.
Graffan said the goal of the project is "to get at what daily life was like at Harvard in the seventeenth century."
The research team discovered a sheep's skeleton and two coins in July as it combed the area prior to the extension of the Red Line. Further exploration at the site adjacent to Wadsworth Gate revealed the remains of a Harvard dormitory with over 12,000 artifacts including pieces of ceramic pottery and galss, many animal bones, and paraphernalia students used in colonial days.
Project historian Valery F. Rosebroch said yesterday her research indicates that the building was constructed for James Olmstead, a wealthy Cantabridgian, but was used as a University dormitory between 1651 and 1674.
Worse than the Union?
Rosebroch said that the historical and archeological research has revealed that the dormitory was crowded and occasionally served bad food.
Rosebroch said that in the 1700s Harvard students slept together in large rooms or chambers, and the food was so poor that the wife of President Nathaniel Eaton felt compelled to apologize in writing for serving the boarders "goat's dung in their hasty pudding."