Finding history near Shawme Lake, Cape Cod Life, April 2017 | capecodlife.com

Tom Keyes shows off a brief digging session’s worth of discoveries including a nail and pottery pieces. Other artifacts found in Keyes’ backyard include pipe stems, spoons, horseshoes, a plummet, and an arrowhead that could be 3,500 years old. Photograph by Charles Sternaimolo

“We’ve only scratched the surface,” says Keyes, who adds that he and his team believe they will also discover outbuildings and barns. “This is the quintessential 17th-century home site,” he says, but he adds a disclaimer. “In archeology, the site has to tell the story; if you guess, you will be wrong.”

The busiest months for school visits have been May and June, when the soil is dry enough for digging and when teachers are most anxious to find venues for learning outside of their classrooms. Most groups come from elementary schools, but older students have also participated, and the collaborative also offers programming for adults. Recently, Keyes entered into an agreement with the Sandwich board of selectmen to lease the historic Deacon Eldred House, a stone’s throw from his own residence, which will allow the collaborative to showcase its artifacts. Since the knoll site is essentially in his backyard, Keyes has been looking for a more public space to host talks and visiting displays.

Keyes says the Deacon Eldred House will also facilitate the expansion of the “virtual field trip” program that he and Wheelock piloted in November of 2016, when they used Google Hangouts to live-stream an interactive presentation with nearly 100 fifth graders at a middle school in Longview, Texas.

Keyes anticipates that 2017 will prove to be an auspicious year for the collaborative, and he has already begun the process of taking the virtual field trip to more schools across the country. However, as with the Deacon Eldred House display, a number of details remain to be sorted out. “We have a lot of work to complete before we open to the public,” says Keyes. He is optimistic that the various pieces will fall into place over the coming months, though, and he looks forward to making this archaeological project a four-season offering. “That’s our charge,” he adds, “to educate the public, young and old.”

More information about the North Atlantic Archaeological Collaborative can be found at naarchaeology.org

Chris White is freelance writer who teaches English at Tabor Academy in Marion.