Luke is a historical archaeologist working on his doctoral degree in archaeology at Boston University. A native of western Pennsylvania, Luke grew up listening to stories of Moundbuilders, frontier settlers and the French and Indian War, which piqued an early interest in history and archaeology. Luke has worked in cultural resource management archaeology in the Chesapeake and New England on a variety of prehistoric and historic sites and for five years as a staff archaeologist on the Jamestown Rediscovery project. Luke's research interests include 17th century Virginia's trade with other English and Dutch Atlantic colonies and colonial adaptations reflected by material culture. When not in the field, Luke follows the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox and hopes to one day see them square off in the World Series.
Time Team Q&A
One of the more unique finds I helped to uncover was a complete piece of armor called a "jack of plate". Essentially, it's a 17th century flak jacket — cut-iron squares sewn into a vest that was found to be much more efficient than plate armor in the colonial Chesapeake. It came out of a c. 1610 pit at Jamestown, and was likely recycled from other pieces of armor and made on site.
Secret Dig Kit Weapon
All archaeologists use shovels in excavation, but a good one is tough to beat. I prefer the "Dutch" shovel, a square, flat-bladed shovel with a slightly curved T-handle. It's an excellent shovel for making straight sidewalls, does well in sandy or compact soils and with a little bit of practice can scrape clean subsoil better than a trowel.
Jamestown was an extraordinary place to work. When you thought you had things figured out, another feature or artifact was uncovered that made you question what you thought you knew. Sites that are discovered on survey, though, are just as interesting. I recall one mid-17th century tenant farmer's site that I worked on near Williamsburg, Virginia. The site wasn't very large, but we found the remains of a post-in-ground dwelling and several refuse middens associated with the household. There were few finds, but what we did recover — clay tobacco pipes, pot sherds, buttons, and a child's toy — were all very personal items. There was no historical record of who lived on the site, and these small finds, uncovered through archaeology, are our best opportunity for understanding more about what life was like in the colonial Chesapeake.
When did you first know you wanted to be an archaeologist?
I saw my first archaeological dig when I was about 6 or 7 at Ft. McIntosh, a Revolutionary War frontier post north of Pittsburgh, PA. The archaeologists were uncovering musket balls, gun flints and uniform buttons, which made the site's history seem tangible and alive, rather than simply a static reference in a history book. Combining my interest in archaeological excavation with my passion for history, I was fortunate enough to speak with a professional archaeologist when I was in high school, who told me that there was such a thing as "historical archaeology" and that there were jobs available too! After that, I made up my mind that archaeology was what I wanted to do, and it's taken me to many different places, introduced me to a lot of people and ideas, and continues to do so.