After 17 years, one of the longest-running archaeological digs in New York City history will come to a close when Fordham professors Allan Gilbert, Ph.D., and Roger Wines, Ph.D., fill in the holes at the site of the Old Rose Hill Manor on the University’s Rose Hill campus. “We’ve still got several years of study in front of us,” said Gilbert, an associate professor of anthropology. “The digging is over, so now our time won’t be spent working on the site. We’ll be able to do the analysis without having to maintain the site and find the labor to dig it.”
This summer, Gilbert and Wines uncovered some densely packed areas of the site, adding more artifacts to an already impressive collection. The two decided that they had gathered more than enough materials and that the time had come to focus on analyzing, synthesizing and interpreting their findings, which will eventually be published. Studying the pieces of window glass, stucco and mortar as well as the buttons, pipe stems and pieces of pencil they recovered will produce a better understanding of life at Fordham in the 19th century, Gilbert said. “Saying that Fordham has a long history is one thing, but understanding it and knowing it is another,” said Gilbert.
“I think having artifacts that show the actual activities of students and faculty makes the history more intimate.”
Wines, a professor of history who specializes in the New York region, says the archaeology project not only helps tell the history of the colonial Bronx, but it also serves as a catalyst for more research into Fordham’s history. Recent examples include “Fordham: The Early Years” (Fordham University Press, 1998), a collection of essays edited by the Rev. Thomas Hennessy, S.J., and “Fordham: A History and Memoir” (Loyola Press, 2002) by the Rev. Raymond Schroth, S.J. In addition, for 16 years the dig has been the subject of field archaeology classes for Fordham students, alumni and community volunteers. Once the final samples are removed, dirt will be carefully layered and compacted so as to not further crumble the fragile foundation walls of the Old Rose Hill Manor. Crews are expected to begin filling in the site in September.