A new partnership between the engineering firm Hurt & Proffitt, University of Lynchburg, and the Historic Sandusky Foundation will create more opportunities for LC students and enhance archaeological research at the 19th-century home.
H&P will move an archaeology laboratory to Sandusky beginning this month. The firm will use the lab to analyze and catalog artifacts from numerous sites throughout Virginia. LC students will use the facility in research they do at Sandusky, as well as H&P projects they work on.
This partnership will be instrumental in the ongoing study of archaeology at Sandusky, said Greg Starbuck, executive director of Historic Sandusky. “This will be an important resource for training future archaeology professionals, assisting with cultural resource management projects, and helping us learn more about Sandusky’s history through the study of our extensive artifact collection,” he said.
For the past two summers, LC students have participated in archaeological digs to search for the foundation of a kitchen that once stood near the home. The artifacts they uncovered were processed on site in a makeshift laboratory that will be upgraded to H&P’s permanent laboratory.
The Bank of the James has pledged support to help develop the physical space for the archaeology lab. Historic Sandusky is seeking additional corporate sponsors, Starbuck said.
H&P’s archaeology laboratory previously was located at Sweet Briar College, where one H&P employee was an adjunct professor. After Sweet Briar announced plans to close, Randy Lichtenberger, H&P’s director of cultural resources, contacted Sandusky and LC to find a new location for the lab. “We were looking to stay in a college environment,” he said. “It was working really well for us to do some projects that students could work on.”
Having a lab on site will increase the ability to study the site’s artifacts and give students more hands-on learning. “They will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience working with artifacts: cleaning them, identifying them, processing them, and labeling them,” said Dr. Clifton Potter, LC history professor and president of the Historic Sandusky Foundation.
“This will facilitate and speed up the whole process of identifying what’s there and placing it in its proper time frame,” he added.
H&P’s lab equipment will be set up at Sandusky this month so it can be in place when LC’s summer archaeology field school convenes in July. The space for the lab will be finished and renovated later this year.