Our Tuesday and Thursday classes last week served as our introduction and brief overview of the discipline of archaeology that will guide our course over the next ten weeks. On Tuesday, Alex presented on archaeological methods, techniques and vocabulary. He also detailed his past archaeological projects and walked us through his current fieldwork in Greece, which was a helped us to visualize current projects and certain questions that arise when excavating. Following his presentation, we gave individual introductions and then spent the remaining two hours on an arboretum tour with Nancy Braker.
Stopping to highlight artifacts and relevant locations on the walk, Nancy pointed out the crucial sites such as Waterford Mill and the site of the Women’s League Cabin in the Carleton arb. We were able to learn about the previous archaeological methods class’s work excavating the cabin and discussed what activities took place at the site. While archaeological work has already been done on the Women’s League Cabin site, there is more to be revealed about this interesting piece of Carleton’s history.
On Thursday, Mary Savina introduced us to geoarchaeology and how geology can be used to help contextualize and understand the narratives we create from studying the remains of material culture. These characteristics included water features, climate, elevation changes, human interaction with the landscape, soil characteristics, etc. She had us identify important characteristics in surveying landscapes and we practiced this most of the class by exploring different parts of the arb and determining characteristics of the landscape from that specific point. She also detailed some of the projects she has worked on and leading contributors to the field of geoarchaeology.
I look forward to the work we will be undertaking this term. I am interesting in learning more about the types of questions archaeologists ask when going about their work and connecting their work to the contemporary world. This week, we are taking a field trip to the Rice County Historical Society and the Cannon River Mill Sites.
This week consisted of various field trips and discussions about Deetz’s In Small Things Forgotten as well as places of historical and archeological interest in the Northfield area. On Tuesday, we met in the Carleton archives to discuss the various resources available to us when examining sites of historical interest. After a brief presentation about the archives and time to look through photographs and maps of the Women’s League Cabin, we left to visit the Rice County Historical Society in Fairbault. Our visit was centered around the historical society’s collection of projectile points from the Rice County area as identified by the historical society’s volunteer archeologist. He took us through the various types of projectile points and pieces of pottery there and methods he used to date and identify them. In his work, he looks for definite evidence of human interaction and traces the object back to its area. He also highlighted the importance of reference texts and manuals that archeologists employ on a regular basis—this helps them to be well-versed in other areas besides their particular areas of research. After perusing the current collection, we visited the Cannon River Mill Site in Dundas that gave us insight as to the background of the mill culture in this area and why the remaining structures and position of this mill site make it a historically interesting location.
Thursday’s class was dedicated to discussion about our various readings and preferred areas of archeological interest. I was particularly interested in the Pine Hill Village Site as I had already been looking through the Carleton archives. It was interesting to hear and share about our evolving definitions of archeology throughout the first two weeks and to discuss the history of particular Carleton locations. This week will be geared towards field surveying and GIS resources.
Today was our first introduction to archeological survey techniques. After discussing the readings, we conducted a large-scale archeological survey over the cornfield area behind the Rec center. We split up into teams of seven or so (1 person as the group leader who filled out the report and 1 person as the mapper) and the other five stood 10 meters apart and walked together across the field in the same direction as to identify artifacts in our given area. This pedestrian survey was a surface level approach but was an initial way to mark the area and spot visible artifacts. In my designated transect, I found many golf balls, a large piece of tile (ceramic), several pieces of a pipe, two pieces of a bowl or another ceramic piece, and a rusty metal hub cap. After noting our artifacts and describing them, we put them in plastic bags and labeled them.
I am interested to see what the other groups discovered during our lab today. Thursday’s class will focus on our discussion of our own archeological survey proposals.
Today, we spent the first part of class with Jerry Sabloff as he shared his research and methods for conducting research in the Sayil archeological site in Mexico. He discussed LiDAR and various new technologies that are shaping the discipline and practice of archeology. After looking at maps and images of his research, we transitioned to a discussion of our own brief research projects locating ongoing survey projects in the world.
We spent the remaining time going through a grid-based archeological survey site of the Pine Hill Village location near Goodhue. We determined the parameters and measured them and created the parallel lines across the site. I was part of the group measuring and marking each 10 meter mark with the tape, but other groups began the process of field-walking in the sections. Items found included bottles, pieces of plastic and glass, etc. We will be continuing mapping out and surveying the Pine Hill Village site next week.
Today’s lab consisted of a rainy survey and excavation in the same Pine Hill Village Site in the arb behind Goodhue. We split up into several groups to continue marking the grid lines, surveying individual units, and mapping. Additionally 2 groups started digging excavation sites.
As a part of the unit survey group, I examined several units and found various artifacts that seemed to include more recent artifacts. While I ended up mostly picking up golf balls and pieces of trash, I was also able to identify notable features such as the path and asphalt piles containing remnants of the road from Pine Hill Village. After today’s surveys, I might suggest an additional survey (re-doing) some of the units as the conditions of today may have contributed to a less-thorough approach. I am eager to hear about what the excavation teams uncovered and look forward to our class on Thursday.
For today’s lab, I was part of the mapping team and we located various features (such as the pine trees that we thought corresponded with the map). We also mapped the points surrounding the trenches and the shovel test pits. Overall, this was an interesting task followed by our cleaning job of trying to expose the edge of the previous road. We dug in three places and found the edge of the road (which extended much further than we had initially expected.
For today’s lab, I was part of a shovel test pit group and worked on shovel test pits #6 and #11. By digging a hole in the middle of our survey units, we were able to see the differences in soil and uncovered various pieces of building material. One highlight included a piece of brick with text on it–this will need to be examined further later. We also found two pieces of concrete. In the coming weeks, we will be organizing and piecing together the data we have been collecting in the excavation sites/shovel test pits.
We spent today’s lab splitting up into small groups and examined the artifacts collected throughout the course of the project. We divided ourselves amongst four groups to explore the artifacts from the excavation trenches, the shovel test pits, the field survey, and the grid survey project at the Pine Hill Village Site. I was in the grid survey group and worked to sort out the artifacts gathered. We put the information in a shared google doc and sorted the artifacts by survey unit and lot. We then tried to determine the typology and chronology of the artifacts by using the archaeological research resources online. The next few weeks will be spent further determining the history of the artifacts and analyzing the results of the grid survey taken as a whole.