This week in lab we worked in our groups on our individual projects, so Patton, Anna, and I continued to grapple with ArcMap, which at various times is extremely frustrating and finicky and at other times works very smoothly. We eventually figured out how to edit the attribute table to manually add in the survey data that we were unable to import automatically, and from there started working with different visualizations of the data to figure out which ones we wanted to include in our final submission. All that we need to do now is finalize the maps we’re going to include on our page.
This was our last day in the field, so all of the different groups were busy trying to finish up excavations, mapping, and photography. On the mapping front, after some initial difficulty leveling the tripod, we shot one more finished context before moving to a location where we would be able to shoot the remaining unmapped grid points and any additional contexts that the excavation teams started or finished. It was also Community Archaeology Day! That pretty much meant that it was business as usual, but we had people coming to watch us work and ask questions. I think all of the Classics profs visited us, which was very fun.
I was on shuttle duty for roughly the first hour of lab. I took two full cars of people to the site, drove back the Arb Office to pick up the “last” person, drove back again to pick up the actual last person, and then drove back for a fifth time to pick up the total station prism from the locker. Once I got back with that, we continued mapping the site. We shot most of the survey grid squares (except for the ones that were obscured by trees), mapped two completed contexts, and shot most of the path up to the site. At some point during the process, the prism rod got lowered to less than 1.5 meters, which we’ll have to correct once we’ve downloaded the total station data.
We started excavation at three different trenches this week. I can’t really comment on the process or what the teams found, because I was working with Tom, Liza, Sara, Charlie, and Elaine mapping the site with the total station. Once the total station was set up, it was fairly straightforward to plant the reflector and hold it reasonably level while the total station measured the distance, but setting it up was…tedious. The tripod itself has to be fairly level to begin with, as well as directly over a pre-measured point (as measured by a plumb line). This requires a lot of small shifts and restarts. Eventually, we got it set up in the right location and shot the four corners of each of the excavation trenches, as well as the outline of the patio.
This week we finished surveying both the agricultural field and the WLC site. First I worked with the same team that I worked with last week and we finished surveying the field, although the owners of the field were in the process of tilling it freshly, so I’m unsure how useful our surveying will turn out to be.
Once we’d finished that survey, we returned to the WLC site, where Liza caught us up on what we’d missed. We then divided up into teams of two to survey the grid squares that we’d measured out last week. We had to clear a lot of leaves in order to be able to actually see the ground, so there were other teams that were working to clear away the leaf debris. Another team was working with the cabin plan to try to determine the actual location of the cabin, and wound up running into some difficulty because the scale of the plan was slightly off.
The first half of lab was mostly spent in the classroom in Hulings. We learned about photogrammetry and 3D modeling from Sarah Murray, a professor at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. We tried to make a model of the statue installed outside of Laird, but had to leave that idea behind when it turned out that the rendering process was going to take too long. Instead we got to see a model that Sarah had already rendered.
For the second half of lab we went back out into the Arb. I was on Field Team A, so we were back out on the same field as last week, surveying three more units to complete our overall survey of the area. We didn’t find much and it was bitterly cold (there were some gusts of either snow or hail. It was not overly pleasant).
For lab yesterday we walked out to an agricultural field near the Women’s League Cabin site to get some practice with field-walking. We divided up into three teams, each with a mapper, a recorder, and 5 or 6 fieldwalkers. Each team surveyed about 4 survey units apiece, walking along transects and recording all artifacts that they found.
My team surveyed along the far road. We found a lot of plastic debris, a few assorted small pieces of glass and plastic, and a couple pieces of metal. At the end of the lab, my team also helped out another team by surveying one more unit (so that as a class we covered the maximum amount of ground).
I was impressed by the Goodhue County Historical Society overall, and especially the archaeology exhibit. It provided a good overview of major sites of interest in the county, and seemed surprisingly comprehensive and in-depth. It was very cool to see how archaeology is applied and useful at a very local level.
I wasn’t really expecting anything like the impromptu field survey that we conducted during lab. I was expecting to sit for two more hours listening to lecturing about archaeological theory and best practices. Getting outside and walking around was welcome enough, and to actually have something focus on was a fun bonus. Almost immediately putting into practice what we’d been discussing in class was a fairly new experience for me, and definitely helped with reinforcing the concepts. The other archaeology courses that I’ve taken so far have all been more scholarly in focus, with readings, discussions, papers, and no lab, so I’m looking forward to the more hands-on opportunities that this course presents.