Anna Thompson


We spent the first lab conducting a survey of the area behind the Carleton Gould Library. The area was sectioned off and I was worked on SU 12 in the mown area between the road and walking path by lower Lyman Lake. Along with three other students, we walked four parallel transects, spaced 5 paces apart, from the road toward the walking path. As a group, we found two pieces of plastic and six artifacts of other material that did not fit into the categories of metal, glass, or cigarettes. Among the “other” artifacts found were an apple core, a piece of wood, and some paper. The artifacts were more concentrated near the walking path than the center of the lawn.


We spent Thursday’s class touring and discussing the history of the Cowling Arboretum with Nancy Braker. We visited the sights of the old mill and women’s college. In addition, we did individual research on places of historical interest within the arb and Carleton. I read through past Carletonian issues to learn about the history of Lyman Lakes. No surveys or excavations were carried out, but we gathered ideas for future projects.


On Tuesday, we visited the the Goodhue County Historical Society in Redwing.  The Goodhue Historical Society is unique because it contains an archaeological exhibit (and geology) exhibit that displays the distant past.  Most historical societies focus on the more recent history of post European colonization.  The museum featured the largest exhibit on Redwing prehistory in the area.  The artifacts featured in the archaeology were four to five reconstructed clay pots.  The pots were decorated by imprints on the surface with two handles each.  They could be identified as being from the Mississippian period because of the white shells that had been added to the clay.  In addition to the pots on display, the curator allowed us to handle some artifacts.  With rubber gloves, we held a small reconstructed pot, a copper arrowhead, and bone tools.  Most artifacts had been donated from private owners.  The artifacts were all of the Mississippian period.  Besides the archaeological exhibit, the museum contained a large amount of historical artifacts, mostly featuring European colonization until the present.  An exhibit featuring the local Native Americans was made in collaboration with modern Native Americans.


We spent Thursday’s class discussing the week’s readings regarding historical archaeology, documents that aid archaeological research, and archaeological survey methods. We had this discussion in preparation for a class survey that we will carry out in the Arb.  Before class, each member had written up a survey design proposal for a site in the Arb.  The site that many people wrote about, and that we will begin with, is the site of old Women’s League Cabin.  At the end of class, we visited the archives section of the library, which will help us prepare for the survey of the Women’s League Cabin site and other projects.


We spent lab on Tuesday beginning our survey around the Women’s League Cabin in the Carleton Arb.  We did not begin by surveying the site directly around the cabin site, but in the fields nearby.  Our class was split into three groups, A, B, and C of about seven people.  My group was designated to survey the recently burned prairie.  We split the area into rectangular units of about 150m by 75m.  As the group mapper, I spend the lab marking the boundaries of the units and taking GPS coordinates of all the corners.  The walkers walked along parallel transects 15m apart and the recorder kept track of the characteristics of the units and artifacts.  Among our interesting finds were pens, plastic wrappers, and a one card.  Because of the recent burning, the plastic artifacts were melted.


Our class hosted Mary Savina as a guest lecturer on Thursday.  She gave a summary of her own career and a description of how she became involved in an archaeological project in northern Greece near Albania.  The talk gave us an idea of what it is like to work as an archeologist in the field and of the specific mechanisms of geoarchaeology.  In addition, she introduced us to some prominent figures in the world of archaeology.


On Tuesday, we hosted guest speaker, Sarah Murray, who demonstrated techniques of photogrammetry.  Photogrammetry is a relatively new technology that captures 3d images of artifacts, buildings, landscapes, etc.  It can be done with fancy cameras and equipment, but is even available as an iphone app.  To practice, we took photos of the monument outside of Laird using targets to help the camera recognize points.  The computer did not finish loading that example as a 3d image, but we saw the wall outside Sarah’s apartment that she had photographed as a test.  Later in the afternoon, we began our survey of the site of the Women’s League Cabin.  While half the group cleared leaves, I helped to create a grid of the area.  We mapped 10m x10m units throughout the site and marked the borders with string.  To aid our mapping, we used a compass, flagging tape and measuring tapes.  A flag was tied at the corner of every 10×10 unit.


On Thursday, we met at the Northfield Historical Society.  The curator and director told us about their jobs and how they accept donations, run the museum, and what sort of things are at the museum.  We then spent some time looking at the current exhibits before heading back to Hulings to discuss our own projects.  In Hulings, we talked about what made a good project regarding archeological study and where to do our excavation as a class.


We carried our survey of the Women’s League Cabin site on Tuesday.  I, along with Alice walked units C1, C2, and C3.  We found lots of charcoal and glass along with other artifacts throughout the units.  In unit C1, the artifacts were concentrated in the north east corner.  We found lots of charcoal, broken bottles, a broken no hunting sign, and large pieces of glass that appeared to form a window pane.  In unit C2 we continued to find charcoal, broken bottle pieces, etc.  In unit C3, we found some more unique artifacts that seemed more unique to the inside of the cabin.  We found part of an old Christmas mug and a spoon and scrub brush.  The findings in our survey units were recorded in the correct forms, and the same was done with the rest of the survey units.


Class on Thursday was spent in Hulings discussing the readings from the past couple weeks.  We also addressed the final projects that are beginning to take shape.  I look forward to mapping the areas of our survey and excavation to add to the compilation of information that will be generated by the class.


I was absent on Tuesday, but the rest of the class began excavation.  Several trenches were started and location data was collected using a total station.  I look forward to continuing  the work next week.


Dr. Austin Mason spoke in class on Thursday about digital media that could be included in our final projects.  He provided several examples of projects where photogrammetry and arcGIS have been used.  The lecture provided inspiration for our upcoming projects, especially mine, which I hope to focus on GIS.  I believe another group plans to use photogrammetry to record some of the artifacts that have been recovered from the Women’s League Cabin site as well.  At the end of class, we met with our groups to plan our final projects.  I, along with Alex and Patton will create a GIS map that includes many aspects of our project.  We plan to include many layers.  As a base, we plan on including maps and satellite images of past and present.  Additionally, we will include the cabin proposed and revised blueprint and surrounding structures.  Finally, we will include our findings from the surveys and excavation.  This will include our transects, grid, and artifact concentrations.


On our second day of work, we began by removing the tarps from the three trenches for the second day of excavation.  Three teams excavated the trenches, while a third gathered data with the total station.  I joined the team excavating trench 1.  We separated the trench into context 2 and context 4.  As we removed soil, we collected it in buckets to sift.  Artifacts were not highly concentrated in our trench, though the amount of rocks was high.  We found a small piece of glass, a bottle cap and several nails in no more than a couple inches of depth.  Some were uncovered in the trench, while others were found during soil sifting.  After four hours, we concluded the day.  When we resume next week, visitors have been invited to observe our work.


After a reading discussion on Thursday, we began cleaning and preparing the artifacts that have been found in the past several weeks.  The plastic collection bags were sorted and designated to locations around the lab.  We cleaned glass and plastic pieces, and set everything out to dry on trays and in baskets.  It was important that each unit was set out separately on a tray with the bags underneath to keep everything sorted.  I worked with artifacts from the Women’s League Cabin found in the ‘C’ column. The survey and excavation groups will continue to clean the artifacts, and will then be able to analyze and interpret the findings.


Tuesday marked our final day of excavation at the Women’s League Cabin site.  It was also the day the class hosted community archaeology day.  We invited the Carleton and Northfield community to come observe our work, including professors, students, and greater community members like the state archaeologist. While visitors mingled throughout the site, excavation in all three trenches continued. The tarps were successfully removed to initiate work, and the trenches were largely free of water. The class was divvied up and resumed the process that had been established in the previous week.  Overall, fewer artifacts were found in the trenches this week than during previous excavation.

I continued to work at trench 1, which remained divided between sandy orange context 2 and dark organic rich context 4. We believe context 2 to have lain outside the front door of the cabin. We continued and completed excavation of context 2, which contained the highest concentration of artifacts within trench 1. The highlights included a piece of ceramic plate and some bones. Context 4 contained fewer artifacts and many pockets of black clay. We found an additional paver at a lower depth, and some nails.


During class time on Thursday, most of the class continued work from the previous week of cleaning and sorting artifacts.  I worked with my mapping group to prepare total station data to enter into GIS.  Because the total station cable was unavailable, we had to record them manually.  Once all the data was transferred into and excel document, we were able to import them to arcmap.  We connected the points to outline the grid that was used to define survey units.  We also outlined the ideal grid to overlay the original.  In the next week, we will gather survey data and add it to the grid sections.