SOU Archaeologists Will Do ‘Open Site’ Dig at Britt Homestead in Jacksonville

(Ashland, Ore) The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) will conduct an archaeological dig next week on the site of the historic Peter Britt homestead in Jacksonville (ca.1850s-1960s). The excavations will be conducted in conjunction with Jubilee Week celebrating Jacksonville’s 150th anniversary, September 20th -24th. SOULA’s project partner, the Southern Oregon Historical Society, will provide volunteers to help with research and excavation during the week-long public archaeology event.

Peter Britt was an early settler in the Rogue Valley and is best known for his early photography and his agricultural innovations that helped spur the wine and pear industries in southern Oregon. The project is part of park restoration by the City of Jacksonville. Historians have researched and identified many of the traditional Britt plantings, and the city is updating the park to restore the gardens to their Britt era splendor.

The Britt homestead burned down to its foundation more than 50 years ago. The archaeological investigations will be concentrated around the foundation of the house and the lower orchards, and are expected to provide information on the daily lives of the Britt family, as well as more general information on life in 19th century Jacksonville. The Britt homestead is one of the most significant historical sites in southern Oregon due to the lasting contributions of Peter Britt to the industry and culture of the Rogue Valley. Investigations into well known historical figures such as Peter Britt can be particularly rewarding as archaeologists can use existing documents such as photographs, diaries, and oral histories in conjunction with archaeological findings to obtain information on specific aspects or events in the person’s life.

There will be an ‘open site’ on Monday, September 20th, from noon to 4 p.m., and Friday, September 24th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., when the public is welcome to talk with archaeologists and historians, see the excavation, get site tours, learn about the Britt family, and see what the archaeologists have been pulling from the dirt. A curator from the historical society will be on site Friday afternoon to see if any artifacts were found that match items in the museum’s Britt collection, and “Peter Britt” himself will be visiting the site both days to talk about his life and history.

SOULA will also host a free public talk on Tuesday, September 21st, at 4 p.m. at the Old City Hall: “Preserving our Hidden History: Archaeology and the City of Jacksonville” featuring: Chris Ruiz, University of Oregon; Dr. Mark Tveskov, Southern Oregon University; and Dr. Dennis Griffin, State Historic Preservation Office.

About Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology

The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology conducts archaeological research throughout southwest Oregon. Our work in the field and in the lab allows students to gain practicum experience towards the anthropology major and the Cultural Resource Management certificate. Consequently there is an applied orientation to our work, and each project is conducted in collaboration with federal and local agencies and Indian Tribes.  We currently have ongoing research projects with the Coquille Indian Tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Medford District Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon State Parks, Jackson County, and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

About Southern Oregon University

As the public liberal arts university of the West, Southern Oregon University focuses on student learning, accessibility, and civic engagement that enriches both the community and bioregion. The university is recognized for fostering intellectual creativity, for quality and innovation in its connected learning programs, and for the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU is the first university in Oregon-and one of the first in the nation-to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power.

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