ATLANTA — Growing up, Mallory Holcomb always dreamed of unearthing stories from the past and bringing them to life. With the help of a three-week summer internship program in Pennsylvania, Holcomb did just that.
Holcomb was selected to participate in the 2023 Fort Halifax Rediscovery Project, sponsored by Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. As part of the project, Holcomb and her peers were responsible for defining the boundaries, features and activity areas of the fort using various archaeological excavation techniques.
Fort Halifax was built in 1756 by Col. William Clapham and was one of the frontier forts built to protect settlers in the region during the French and Indian Wars. For years, the exact location of Fort Halifax was unknown. The fort, which was demolished in the late 1700s, was the last of the forts along the Susquehanna River that had not yet been located.
“This field school was a great learning experience for me,” said Holcomb, who plans to pursue a career in archeology. “This experience made me want to do more of this type of work. This prepared me for what archaeology is and what it can be.”
During her internship, Holcomb found a musket ball, a pipe stem and a builder’s trench associated with the fort. The group also found the exterior wall and parts of the foundations of two buildings inside Fort Halifax.
“We were so thrilled and freaking out because the previous field school wasn’t able to find these kinds of artifacts, so we’re the first field school to find parts of the building,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb, a senior anthropology student at Georgia State, is the daughter of a retired Marine and moved around a lot during her childhood, getting exposed to different museums and historical landmarks.
While her peers may not have shown the same interests in museums and archaeological digs, Holcomb’s interest in anthropology began to develop when she was 8 years old. While her family was living in Virginia, they visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, sparking her passion for the subject.
“I was always exposed to history,” Holcomb said. “Instead of hating it, I fell in love with it. To physically see artifacts and view them up close was something I always found so interesting.”
Holcomb said her internship not only gave her valuable experience, but also helped her gain more confidence in her field of study.
“The director wanted to teach us what real archaeology is,” Holcomb said. “With this field school experience, I have the skills to pursue a career in cultural resource management archaeology.”
—Photo courtesy of Mallory Holcomb