Fort Shirley Archaeology Project -Faunal Analysis
This interdisciplinary project centered on the rediscovery and excavation of George Croghan’s trading post (1752-1755) which became an important French and Indian War frontier fortification used from 1755-1756. George Croghan (c. 1718-1782) was an Irish-born fur trader who played a key role in establishing and maintaining relations between Native American peoples in the Ohio River Valley and the English colonies from the 1740s onwards. Croghan’s penchant for land speculation and trade ventures frequently landed him in trouble with his creditors; however, he played a pivotal role in exploring the frontier regions, maintaining alliances between the English colonies and important Native American tribes, and guiding campaigns led by Generals Braddock and Forbes to dislodge the French from Fort Duquense (near Pittsburgh). Croghan served as a captain under future president George Washington before being appointed Deputy Indian Agent in 1756 under Sir William Johnson who was charged with maintaining British relations with the Iroquis. Croghan served during the American Revolutionary War until 1777 when he was accused of treason, a charge for which he was ultimately acquitted.
Penn State students enrolled in the Penn State Archaeology Field School under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Burns (Juniata College) excavated Fort Shirley in Shirleysburg, PA. These excavations recovered extensive collections of material goods including the largest trade bead collection in the county, and a copper charm which probably belonged to an African slave or indentured servant bearing the inscription “There is no god but God” in Arabic. This charm was featured on the 2017 Pennsylvania Archaeology Month poster, and represents one of the earliest pieces of evidence for a Muslim presence in North America. Animal bone recovered from Fort Shirley and the contemporaneous Native American village of Augwick Old Town was analyzed by Martin Welker and undergraduate students Kristi Bartolome, Grace Bratlee, Paige Lynch. Subsequent research comparing the Fort Shirley data with other 18th century fortifications revealed strong connections between site’s access to road systems and their food choices.