Dr. Michael O. Hartley … archaeological anthropologist digging deep to dispel assumptions


Michael O. Hartley, PhD, is a professional archaeologist with a concentration on the region of Carolina for the past forty-two years. Trained as an anthropologist, he has worked regionally in a variety of places, including the Spanish town of Santa Elena (1566-1587) and the port cities of Charleston and New Bern. His work on the Moravian resource in Forsyth County, North Carolina began in 1983. He is the Director of Archaeology at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, with a focus on the town of Salem and the broader Moravian tract of Wachovia.

The Boys School was constructed in 1794 and is the fine work of master builder Gottlob Krause. It served as the center of learning for boys in Salem for 100 years and features beautiful Flemish bond brick walls, an elegant staircase, its own bake oven, and a vaulted cellar. The restoration of the building and grounds is currently a major component of Old Salem’s On Common Ground Capital Campaign . The archaeology at the Boys School in May-June 2013 was undertaken to address questions about the history and architecture of the building, including the possibility of doors on the east elevation, grades changes around the building, and a possible lightning rod on the west end.

Archaeologist Dr. Michael Hartley and crew (L-R): Martha Hartley, Amy Morse, Allie Mead

Crew member Allie Mead in Unit 1, location of the south kitchen door on the east elevation

Crew member Amy Morse in Unit 3, searching for evidence of the lightning rod

Making preparations for recording the unit: Dr. Michael Hartley in Unit 2, at the location of the north door on the east elevation; Martha Hartley at a unit corner pin.

Martha Hartley, a Preservation Planner, drawing the findings of the excavation at Unit 2, the north cellar door location on the east elevation. Archaeology is a destructive process. A location can be excavated only once; therefore, careful and meticulous record-keeping is an essential responsibility for archaeologists and includes measured drawings, photography, detailed notes, artifact analysis, and ultimately report writing.

Things found archaeologically are revealing about people’s lives. Great care is taken to maintain contextual information about the various artifacts. Alone, an artifact is meaningless; it is its association with its context that tells the story.

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