While reviewing museums to write about on this blog, I found the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History (CCMNH). The name of the museum, according to its website, was decided in 1954 at the Brewster, MA town hall.  It may have started from humble beginnings: Initially operating out of a tent, the first museum building was constructed six years later in 1960.  But it is now in a much larger space and is steward to over 400 acres of land.

Exhibits on whales, sharks,  and local marine life combine with exhibits on archeology such as “People of the Land: The Wampanoag.”

The museum’s website states: “The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History integrates the three strands of its organizational identity – as museum of natural history, nature education center, and steward of conservation land.”

Their calendar was filled with interesting events, but what drew my interest was seeing an “artifact identification day.”

Kate Roderick, the museum’s archaeology lead, graciously responded to the questions below about the event coming up on October 5th:

1. What is the “Archeology Lab” at your museum?  Who has access to it? What kinds of artifacts are stored there?

The Archaeology Lab is the base of operations for Cape Cod Museum of Natural History Archaeology.  It is where we prep when we will be excavating, process, and store artifacts that are waiting for interpretation and further study.  Museum staff and trained archaeology volunteers use the space.  Due to the Cape’s acidic soil conditions the primary type of artifact we have are Native American lithic (stone) materials. We also have historic period artifacts related to Cape Cod’s long and unique Euro-American history. 

2. I haven’t seen any other museum offer an artifact id option.  Is this as unique as I think it is?  How many people bring artifacts and what kinds of artifacts do they bring?

I’m not sure how unique this is.  CCMNH Archaeology has a long history of doing artifact identification.  The number of people that come varies as much as the object they bring. Sometimes it’s a 19th Century ceramic fragment, sometimes it’s an 8,000 year-old spear point, sometimes it’s just a rock. 

3. What other local excavations will be highlighted on this event?

The artifacts from the Wing Island Archaeology Project are the primary objects we use. We also use a large collection of Native American materials (the Rennie Collection) for typology and education. The Rennie Collection was collected in Mid-Cape agricultural fields in the 19th Century, and although unprovenienced, still serves as a great comparative resource for local cultural materials. 

4. Is there anything about this day you want people to know?

We invite everyone and anyone to bring down whatever they may have that could be an artifact. As a non-profit we cannot appraise any materials but we would be happy to tell you about what you have. We are always open to artifact inquiries. Throughout the year you may email archaeology@ccmnh.org or call (508) 896-3867 to set up an appointment to have an artifact looked at. 

Please be sure to check this out! http://www.ccmnh.org/Events/Archaeology-Lab-Open-House-Artifact-ID

Saturday, October 05, 2013, 11am to 3pm

Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
869 Main Street/Route 6A
Brewster, MA 02631

Many thanks to Kate Roderick and Barbara Knoss!