Over the course of the week I visited the Carleton Archives, the Rice County Historical society and the Northfield historical society as well as the Dundas Mill site. Beyond the class visit, my return visit to the Carleton Archives the next day I pulled the files about The Cave for my site of historical interest moodle post. I had particular interest in student’s accounts of the cave and the way that its function morphed over time. Interestingly enough, The Cave seems to mirror Carleton as a whole during any particular point in time. I also stopped at the Northfield historical society with a particular focus on the efforts to revitalize the downtown in the last two decades.
Week three found me learning how to do survey archeology through a practice site at the cornfield near the recreation fields. I was the middle person in the group C walkers. I learned the importance of remaining oriented to maintain a straight line between myself and the rest of the team. I also learned the particular skill set necessary to pick out human created objects in a cluttered ground space. All in all I found 5 artifacts including a piece of ceramic, multiple golf balls, and a shell. The majority of the objects I found seemed to come from the recent past, but they also related to the activities going on around the site, making it situated within its spatial context. It will be interesting to continue doing fieldwork and collecting more artifacts.
Today was a rainy nightmare, which made for slow going in today’s segment of the survey grid. It didn’t help that todays survey was focused on an area of heavy underbrush that would whip back at you and eventually soak through your khaki pants. I also learned that my jacket was not in fact waterproof and regretted my choice of a linen shirt. With all of the environmental factors at play I am not totally sure that our survey was as complete as it ought to have been. For that reason, any restudy of this site may want to look to this area. This is not to say there were no findings at all. There was a surprisingly dense distribution of golfballs throughout the survey units, and I have yet to think of a convincing reason that they would end up in the woods behind Goodhue. Beyond that I found a can of MSR and a GOP frisbee from 2016 and produced some waterlogged paperwork! If anything I was happy for my shower at the end of the day!
It was a far more pleasant day of archeological survey today! We ended up completing the grid. From my ant-like on the ground perspective I noticed a trend across survey units, where the units close to the lacrosse fields tended to be devoid of artifacts. That may have something to do the manicuring preformed on the grass near the fields. One unit filled with gnarly stumps and plant life near the path yielded the most artifacts of any unit I’ve worked on, including a wealth of glass and asphalt. The survey team also met a lot of dogs, which made archeological work all the more worth it. Overall, I am happy to be done with the field survey and excited to go back to the lab and begin to parse out our findings. After we completed the field survey, I worked on one shovel test pit, where we work to dig a shovel length down into the ground. My shovel test pit was devoid of artifacts but I did enjoy seeing some of my classmate’s findings (hoping the road Maya’s team found pans out).
I worked on two shovel test pits today for the whole lab period. The first one was slow going, in some extremely rocky soil. However, it also yielded some good finds, including a large chunk of asphalt, which tentatively confirms that we were indeed digging on the road. However, there was only a small piece of asphalt in the same strata, leaving that conclusion open to be confirmed or denied. There was also a chunk of tile in the shovel test pit, along with hundreds of naturally occurring rocks. There was a certain amount of satisfaction in filling in that pit. The second test pit was a lot easier to dig but ultimately more disappointing. Overall, neither is a good candidate for a more thorough excavation.
Today was mainly focused on categorizing the yield from the survey. My role in the process was data entry, typing the lot numbers and descriptions of items. I enjoyed getting to flex my creative writing muscles in writing up the descriptions of objects. In general it was good to see that some fragments included branding information and serial numbers. Overall, I’m excited to see how this data is used to date the objects. I also began working on some of the preliminary planning for my final project!
Today was mainly a battle between myself and a weird lighter found during the survey. At first I was expecting it to be an easy identification as we had brand insignias and serial numbers. The brand picture was in fact extremely distinct, showing a stylized cow sitting on top of the Word COW in a strange font. Tracking down that logo proved more difficult than I would have expected as google searches for “Lighter brand COW” and “COW Lighters” did not return anything but pictures of cows smoking marijuana and unrelated farming resources. Eventually using a brand symbol database I tracked down COW to a canadian patent that expired in 2007 and a continuing patent from Thailand. However, even that was a dead end as the reverse image search did not produce any concrete information about the company. For the moment it remains an intriguing object, a thai lighter left near a lacrosse field built over temporary veterans housing at a college in Northfield, MN.
This week I shifted focus from object identification to my final project, oral histories of Pine Hill Village. The main focus of the lab session was to identify people who may have lived at the village or were on campus during that time. I contacted my high school history teacher and had her pass on the survey to the alumni list serv. We also used the alumni directory to identify people who were on campus during the years PHV was around and sent emails. Finally, using Argol records we worked to identify people who lived at Pine Hill Village and contact them directly. Hopefully these approaches bear fruit in the form of interviews or email follow ups. We also create a series of google sheets to track who we need to contact, who we have contacted, and what the people respond. Over the next few days we are also working on the WordPress architecture for our section of the website. The goal is to reach alumni over the phone as well, giving us ample material to include on our finalized website.
(note: I realized when I went to write this week’s post on a computer that doesn’t run web browsers that are 6 or 7 updates out of date, that posts don’t auto update and that the white square in the top right of my screen is actually an update button. All apologies to previous weekly update writers for having my posts in drafts rather than on the site).