The Journal of Philadelphia Waterfront Heritage & Archaeology

Current Issue: Volume 1 2016

River Chronicles Span 6,000 Years - Introduction

By Stephen Tull

Go ahead—feel the white, long-grain texture of this paper, grasp the heavy stock cover. Flip through the pages. No, wait. Bathe in the illuminated glow of the screen, feel the smooth contours of the mouse or stylus. Touch the screen. The first issue of River Chronicles is sitting on your lap (top). You can open it and read this journal right now!

No, this is not an introduction to intentionality in linguistic studies, but a metaphor for the way archaeologists remove the modern surface to get at the historic contexts of features and artifacts buried beneath their feet. We have to begin at the recognized surface, and then, as we excavate, things start to get very interesting. Once exposed, artifacts and features offer the longest memories. With a little coaxing, they speak as witnesses of our past. No artifact or feature stands alone, however—each is related to others, dependent on them for context. Some artifacts and features give us aesthetic satisfaction; others, a jolt of knowledge that brings us into closer contact with time gone by, the hidden objects and places that filled the hours of people’s lives, details that would otherwise elude us. The substance of River Chronicles is the result of experienced AECOM scholars mentoring competent AECOM novice scholars through the process of analyzing these lives in the past.