Sara McAuliffe

Week Eight

Week Seven

On Tuesday further work with the Total Station ensued. We plotted the opening and closing of the various contexts for each trench, and we worked on plotting the boundaries of each survey unit. It became quite difficult to find the prism at the farthest boundaries of the site since of the brush density and the distance of the Total Station to the prism. It was determined that a point would be placed closer to the corners that we were unable to shoot in the next lab so we would be able to record those points. We discovered after plotting the survey grid that the prism height had been altered sometime during the recording. Thus, this would need to be taken care of when the points were imported into GIS.

We also starting plotting the boundaries of the path leading up to the site and the path leading to the water pump. Although these features weren’t included in the site boundaries, it would help provide a more holistic view of the relative location of the cabin in the GIS map.

Week Six

For lab this week I learned how to use the Total Station. Professor Garrison instructed Alex Claman and myself on how to set up the Total Station tripod (a very intensive process) and how to take points using the prism. We used an already established point to create a point within the site, and then from that point (point 7) we would eventually be able to plot the survey grid and the excavation trenches. In the meantime we recorded the boundaries of the patio with the Total Station.

Additionally, we determined the locations for the excavation squares. Trench One was positioned where the relative entrance of the cabin was believed to be located. Trench Two was placed where the back entrance of the cabin was, determined by the discovery of pavers last week. Lastly, Trench Three was placed at the bottom of the slope located next to the patio. Each trench was marked with string and the respective groups for each trench began to excavate.

Week Five

On Tuesday, class was fully devoted to surveying the entire site. Groups of two students conducted transect surveys in each unit. I personally helped determine where the boundaries of the cabin were in accordance to the blueprints and map that were in the Carleton College archives. It was concluded that the map had several discrepancies with the site, and it could not fully be used as a credible means to pinpoint the boundaries of the cabin.

After this I worked with one other student to search for the location of the back patio, next to the woodshed. We used trowels to find the stones which had originally been laid on the surface of the soil. We roughly determined the outline of the back patio, and thereby where the relative position of the back entrance of the cabin was located. We did disturb the top layer of the soil though in order to do this.

Additionally, I spent a fair amount of time clearing the remaining brush from the relative location of the cabin. So that when excavation would begin in the following week the top of the soil would be clear.

Week Four

On Tuesday our class divided into two separate groups. One went to finish the survey that was started last week in the field, and the other group began to clear the Womens’ League Cabin site and partition the survey grid.

I was with the group preparing the Womens’ League Cabin Site. We decided that the overall survey unit would be 50 meters by 50 meters, with 10 by 10 meter survey squares. While the markers were being placed and the perimeter was lined with string to indicate the boundaries, a large portion of the group worked on clearing the brush from the top layer of the soil. Even on the top layer of the soil artifacts were found, such as glass shards.

Week Three

We performed a survey on a plot of land in the upper arboretum. The plot of land, previously a corn field, was divided into three units: Survey Unit A, Survey Unit B, and Survey Unit C. Each unit was surveyed by transects. I was the mapper for Unit B. Our plot was a rectangular portion of field that ran along the highway.

The Unit was broken down into smaller grids 75 metres by 150 metres. The surveyors walked approximately 15 metres apart. I measured out the smaller units and recorded the GPS position for each corner of the unit. We found several things in the field including a deer jaw, shards of pottery, and refuse closer to the highway. There was difficulty turning the surveyors around once they reached the end boundary of our unit because of both the sloping of the field and the diagonal line on which they had to turn around. Because of this I think that the turn around may have been incorrect. However, this was our test survey so it was good to get a feel for how things such as that should be taken into consideration next time.

In class on Thursday we listened to Mary Savina talk about geoarchaeology and her experience working on an excavation in Grevena, Greece.


Week Two

We visited the Goodhue County Historical Society, which had an insightful exhibit on the archaeology of the area. Beyond this, we also were able to view artifacts that had been donated to the museum, such as pottery shards, a fish hook, and a copper arrowhead.

The archaeology exhibit provided a comprehensive view of all the excavation sites, with three primary sites along the Mississippi river.

Additionally, we decided based upon research that the students in the class conducted that the Woman’s League Cabin site would be the most feasible and insightful site to survey and eventually excavate.

Week One

We performed a survey on the site behind the Library, consisting of the volleyball court, a road, a drainage ditch, and a hillside. We divided the site into various survey units which we then observed by walking in transects.

I surveyed units four through six, with one other student, Rachael Sutherland. Survey unit four was directly right to the sand volleyball court, and ran parallel with the court up until the library wall. The total number of objects sighted was 11, primarily plastic refuse. However closer to the library items that resembled paint chips were noted, which were likely from the exterior of the library. Beyond the other objects, the plastic items were heavily concentrated farther from the library and closer to the road and sidewalk, where more human traffic occurs. Survey unit five was the small piece of grass in between the sand volleyball court and the library. Once again, closer to the library it was noted that items which appeared to be paint chips were present. The total number of items observed was two, with a piece of plastic closer to the volleyball court. Survey unit six was the volleyball court. Only one item was observed in the sand, a small piece of green glass. However, the item quickly disappeared into the sand when agitated. The nature of the terrain in the volleyball court probably contributed to our low number of objects observed, as items could easily become lodged within the sand as compared to the surrounding soil which is much more compact and thus the objects will remain on the surface of the terrain.

For all of our survey units, Rachael and I walked equidistant from each other, approximately 5 metres. It was concluded from our surveys that the primary objects, those remaining on the surface of the site, were agglomerated in areas where the environment experienced more interaction with humans.

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