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Riversdale Archaeology

The Center for Heritage Resource studies, in partnership with the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation and the University’s Freshman Connection program is conducting a hands-on course of study in archaeology at RiversdaleMansion in nearby Riverdale Park. The course involves students with the University’s surroundings andhistory in order foster positive community relations. The course is led by CHRS affiliate David Gadsby withguidance from Prince George’s County Archaeologist Don Creveling.

Students in the course learn the methods and theories ofarchaeology by participating original research at the Riversdale House Museum.The elegant five-part Georgian Riversdale, constructed shortly after 1801, is closely tied to the founding families of the United States and the nineteenth-century cultural aristocracy of Prince George’s County, and the founding of the University of Maryland. It was also a working plantation sustained by the labor of enslaved African-Americans.

Students will work to connect the broad sweep of Americanhistory to the facts and artifacts on the Riversdale grounds. In the process, they will become familiar with the methods of reasoning and research that archaeologists use to learn about the past through material culture. This is a hands-on course, which will engage students minds and bodies in the production of knowledge. Readings on American history, along with weekly lectures help to build historic context and broaden students' understanding of historical and archaeological processes. Course faculty will guide the students through the process of generating archaeological knowledge, from field mapping and project planning to excavation, artifact processing, cataloging and analysis. Guest lecturers on a variety of topics will provide in-depth knowledge and expertise. The course will culminate in the production of a professional-quality archaeological report produced through student collaboration.

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