French Azilum, PA is a village settlement site that was built and occupied from 1793-1803 by a refugee community of French aristocrats, Haitian-French aristocrats and Haitian slaves. It is now a state historic landmark. Dr. Maureen Costura has excavated on the site for several seasons to identify the ways in which these groups interacted, both within the community and with outside influences, and attempted to recreate their past existences in the Pennsylvania wilderness. Her research has focused on the recreation of cuisine through analysis of historical documents and the archaeological record to shed light on the constructed identities of the individual and the community at French Azilum.
Dr. Maureen Costura: Anthropology Department, Cornell University, email@example.com
The application of phosphate analysis
One of the objectives of Dr. Costura's work was to locate any possible outbuildings associated with the LaPorte house at French Azilum. After several seasons of excavation, however, no buildings were positively identified. I performed phosphate analysis in the yard area of the LaPorte house to help identify any outbuildings in that area. The use of phosphate analysis can advance these research objectives for several reasons. First, phosphate analysis can identify areas where organic debris decomposed. These materials can leave little trace in the archaeological record, and buildings constructed using wood, rushes, etc. can be difficult to identify using common archaeological methods in certain environments. Second, the speed and simplicity with which a phosphate analysis survey can be completed allows for examination of a much larger area than excavation or shovel testing.
The phosphate analysis survey was able to identify three possible structures, one constructed boundary and several entry and pathways. The use-of-space models generated for this site were analyzed in conjunction with examination of the material culture and the archaeological record to increase the depth of interpretations of the construction and use of space at French Azilum.