Grace Liao

Week 1: March 25, 2017 and April 1, 2017

This week we had our first meeting in the Arb Office, on Tuesday. For the first part of class, we discussed what archaeology is and aspects of archaeological research. For the second half of class, we went on a hike through the Arb led by Nancy Braker. We visited the Waterford Mill Site, the Women’s League Cabin, and a farm dump near the Arb Office.

I thought it was really interesting to see the various areas that had been planted by the Arb staff at different times. In particular, we stopped at one point on the way to the Women’s League Cabin. There, we could see trees that had been planted at three different points in time and an area that had recently been farm land. I thought it was cool to see how drastically different the heights and density of the trees were. I also hadn’t realized all the restoration being done in the Arb until Nancy talked about it.

On Thursday, Mary Savina taught our class and introduced the topic of geoarchaeology. We all described the physical characteristics of our hometowns, ignoring human impact, then shared in small groups. We then came back together as a class and listed important characteristics of ‘place.’ To put this list into action, we visited five sites of geological interest on campus in our small groups. We visited Hill of Three Oaks, a site of recent farming, a site of water erosion, Lyman Lakes, and the forest across the highway by the Arb Office. Like Mary said, this activity really showed how varied the landscape is around campus. For the second part of class, Mary discussed the multidisciplinary aspect of geoarchaeology and her own work on the Grevena project in Greece.

Prior to this week I didn’t realize how often we would be out in the field during class, and I’m excited for the field work to come!

Week 2: April 4, 2017

This week we met at the Carleton College Archives on the first floor of the libe. There, Nat Wilson talked to us about the Archives and how to approach researching the history of Carleton through the Archives. We then looked at some photos, documents, and maps pertaining to the Women’s League Cabin.

We then headed out to Faribault to visit the Rice County Historical Society. Merv, who was an archaeologist studying the Native American stone tools, talked to us about the collection. There were arrowheads and stones from the Paleo-Indian tradition all the way through Mississippian culture. We also heard from the director, who emphasized that her job as a historian is not to know everything, but to know experts on various topics. We got to take a look around the exhibits and in the research room, where they house a lot of their archives.

On our way back to campus, we visited the Archbald Mill Site in Dundas. Mary Savina talked about her work on the informational poster for the mill, which detailed all the mills in the Northfield area. We were also able to enter the mill site and walk around the remains of the mill.

Week 3: April 11, 2017

Today, we spent the first half of the class in the Arb Office. We discussed the structure of class assignments and then began talking about the readings for class. We talked about archaeological surveys and then developed a method for our own survey. First, we took a look at Pine Hill Village. Then, we broadened our view and decided to survey a corn field near the village. The survey of this area provides context for Pine Hill Village. We decided on a pedestrian survey method. We divided the field into 60×100 meter rectangles and decided to walk the area South to North with 6 field walkers each spaced 10 meters apart.

After devising our plan, we left the Arb Office and headed over to the field. We split into 3 groups to survey the area. I was in Group B. In these groups, we systematically walked across many units and collected anything we saw within a 2 meter radius of us. Using a compass to guide us in the right direction and a clicker to count items found, we proceeded to survey the field. After walking through each unit, we recorded the things we saw and collected. For the items we collected, we bagged them and detailed the findings on the bag for future record. I was surprised at the amount of things we found in the field today. Our group found glass and metal drinking containers, a calculator, a shoe, and other rubber and ceramic items. The process of a pedestrian survey seemed confusing in the classroom, but after we got into the field it was much simpler and I think we found some very interesting artifacts.

Week 4: April 18, 2017

Today’s class started with a presentation from Jerry Sabloff, an archaeologist an anthropologist. He talked about his work in Sayil, a Mayan city located in the Northern Yucatan. His work there, during the 80s, was one of the first temperate areas to use total station systems for mapping. The mapping technique was much more accurate and efficient than the previous techniques. His team also did extensive horizontal exposure of the area, instead of the more common deep excavation. I thought it was really interesting to learn about the Mayan usage of chultuns to store water underground. Jerry’s team was also able to uncover that the settlers organized by topography, living at high points where the basal platform was thinnest. This made for the easiest time digging chultuns.

After Jerry’s talk, we begun planning how we would approach surveying the area of Pine Hill Village. Alex had created a alpha-numerical grid over a detailed map of the area, which we used to guide our surveying.

Once we got out in the field, a couple members of the class split off to map features of interest with the GPS system. The rest of the class began constructing the grid. We created a grid made of 10x10m squares. Those we set up a grid used a compass to make sure the squares had 90 degree angles. After the first row of grids was measured, half the class began surveying the units. The other half of the class continued to construct the grid. The class collected a variety of artifacts, including golf balls, glass bottles, and bricks.

Week 5: April 25, 2017

We spent the beginning of class discussing a plan for our field day. We all chose different roles for the day, such as expanding the grid, surveying units, gps mapping, and excavation.

I was on the second excavation team. We mapped out a site which included part of the rubble pile. Our unit was 2×2 meters and included part of rubble pile so that we have both a horizontal and vertical view of it. It was a rainy day, which made excavation slightly harder.

First, we staked out the corners of our unit and put string around the outside to make sure the boundaries of the unit were clear. Next we cleared all surface sticks and leaves then started to shovel scrape the top layer of vegetation off. After that, we started using picks and dustpans to get rid of the topsoil. So far, we’ve gotten about 1-2 inches down. We didn’t uncover anything, except a few pieces of asphalt.

In excavation on next Tuesday I except that we might find more building materials and other artifacts.

Week 6: May 2, 2017

At the beginning of class we set out our plan for the day. We continued excavation and surveying, expanded the grid, and began digging some test pits.

I continued excavation at Site 2. We sifted the dirt from the previous day of excavation, but did not find anything by sifting the dirt from the first context. We also started to move the material in the rubble pile that was part of our site. In this area, there was much denser rubble material. We found bricks, asphalt, pottery, and some glass. Because of the different make-up of this area, we decided to label it Context 3.

As we continued digging deeper in the trench, the soil lightened and we labeled this Context 2. We found more glass and plastic in this context than the previous one.

As we continued to dig, most of the artifacts were focused in the area by the rubble pile. For next week we might focus on this area since it seems to be more artifact rich.

Week 7: May 9, 2017

Today, the class continued work in the field. I worked on excavation in Trench 2 with Ross, Amie, and Ben. We focused only on the third of the trench closest to the rubble pile. We had found more artifacts in this area last week, so decided to focus here.

We found a lot of nails and shards of glass, as well as another piece of wire and some pottery. We also found asphalt and concrete, of various sizes. During digging we had some trouble making sure the trench was level and keeping sharp edges, but were able to clean things up by the end of the period. As we were finishing up we started seeing patches of more reddish dirt, so this may be hinting at a new context if we continue digging next week.

Week 8: May 16, 2017

We stayed in the Arb Office today. First, we discussed the readings from that week. We talked about the difference between object biography and use-life, which is briefly defined as active vs passive. We also discussed what information was important to record for each object.

Then, we split up into groups and analyzed artifacts from various methods of field work. My group focused on the artifacts from the field survey in the cornfield. We were able to identify some objects, such as a nail treatment bottle, part of a glass bottle from the 40s, and a calculator.

We ended class by meeting in our final project groups. Our group continued to plan the community field day and work out the logistics, as well as discuss progress made on the signage portion of our project.

Week 9: May 23, 2017

The class continued analyzing artifacts and working on final projects. My final project group hosted our Community Archaeology Day today, from 2-4. We spent the beginning of class setting up snacks inside and a tarp and table outside at the site. Over the two hours, we had about 10-15 visitors from the community. People showed a lot of interest at the site outdoors and in artifacts indoors.

Our group split our time between the indoor and outdoor sites, as well as walking some people from the Arb Office to the Pine Hill Village site. Despite the rainy weather, we had a fairly good turnout.

Week 10: May 30, 2017

For our final class, we finished up our final projects and tied up all the loose ends on our fieldwork and artifacts.

In the first portion of the class, we discussed issues of storage. We talked a bit about potential plans for artifact storage. We will be storing everything in Alex’s office for now. We also mapped out other tasks for the class as a whole, such as organizing artifacts, making online documents understandable for future users, cleaning up archaeology equipment, and backfilling trenches and removing string.

Before performing these tasks, we worked in our final project groups and checked-in with Alex about our progress. Our group just had some adjustments to make to the websites and signage.

For the last hour of class, we tackled the tasks we outlined in the beginning of class. I worked on organizing the Google Drive photos and documents. We completed everything and celebrated with pizza that Alex ordered for the class!