Scheduled for the first summer session, May 23 through June 9, the field school will be held at the Alexander Schaeffer Farm and Distillery, Route 501, in Schaefferstown.
Historic Schaefferstown Inc. approached HACC about offering the course following an excavation that began last summer at the site. The farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts many activities throughout the year related to Pennsylvania German history and culture.
"We did a short two-week excavation and uncovered two fireboxes that held the enormous copper stills for the distilling process," explained Patricia E. Gibble, Ph.D, who is leading the excavation and will teach the course for HACC. "The reason this is so interesting is that it is not only a farm site, but it may be one of the only intact early American commercial distilleries. It looks like they produced probably whiskey and apple brandy."
According to Gibble, the only other known commercial distillery on the East Coast that has been archaeologically investigated is Mt. Vernon, George Washington's home.
"One of the things we are shooting for this summer is to find evidence that ours was in production manufacturing whiskey before Mt. Vernon," Gibble said.
In addition to serving as an archaeological field school, the site also serves as a public archaeology program, meant to educate the public about historic preservation and archaeology.
"Throughout the year, we have specific days when volunteers can come in and help," Gibble explained. "They can shake a screen for artifacts, help make drawings of what we're excavating or be involved in processing the artifacts in the lab we have set up on the site."
Gibble recommends that anyone interested in registering for the archaeological field school should take the Introduction to Archaeology course that she will teach in the spring semester at HACC's Lancaster Campus.