For our first class, we began by discussing our thoughts as to what archaeology is, and then got an introductory look into what it actually is. Professor Knodell showed us some of the things he worked on in Greece before we headed outside and got a tour of the arb from Nancy Braker, who showed us the Earth Day trees, the Waterford Mill site, and the Women’s League Cabin site.
Our class first stopped by the Carleton College Archives in order to learn how to access research materials through the archivists there. We met with Nat Wilson, who gave us the run-down of how to access materials, and we even got to look at a few documents/pictures regarding the Women’s League Cabin while we were there. After that, we made our way over to the Rice County Historical Society, where we met and heard from Merv, a retired archaeologist currently doing volunteer work for the Historical Society. He told us about rocks and what Native Americans used to create weapons and knives, and identified what time period a wide variety of stones and clovis shaped and arrowhead weapons/knives came from. We got a chance to look around the museum there as well. Then we visited the Archbald Mill Site, and got to walk around and look at the ruins of the Archbald Mill, which sits right alongside the Canon River. This was a very interesting stop, as we were able to see right up close the remains of the Mill, because a nice man let us into the fenced off space around the Mill. From there, we returned to campus with a lot on our minds in terms of thinking about what Historical Site we wanted to write about for our next assignment.
Our class began by discussing survey procedure and what kind of things need to be considered and thought out before conducting a field survey. We then learned about the different tools that were available to us for what we would be doing in the second half of class, which was a field survey of a corn field in the Arboretum (behind Hill of Three Oaks area). I was the designated logging person, and for each survey unit my team, Team A, surveyed, I would fill out a survey unit form. The form included who was in the group, a sketch of the unit, bearings, what items were found where and by whom, what items were collected, and other details about the unit. We surveyed a total of 5 units of the corn field area and found a variety of artifacts from plastic wrappers to golf balls to some pieces of ceramic. The experience was an interesting one, and I saw just how tedious field surveys can be in how much detail you need to record everything. It was also challenging in parts because of boundaries like the fenced in space and bends in the field.
Our class was lucky enough to be visited by real-life archaeologist Jerry Sabloff. He began class by telling about his own experiences working on excavations at the ancient Mayan city Sayil. He explained to us how total stations and Lidar helped in making their job easier, as there was a lot of brush and plants in the way of field surveying. He showed us maps of the area, and showed how there were larger ruins that were made for the wealthy, but there were also smaller, less noticeable platforms of rocks that used to be peasant dwellings. It was interesting to see how much there was to find at this site, as it was an entire city.
After Sabloff’s lecture, we gathered outside in the arb, at the Pine Hill Village site to begin setting out units for field surveying. Three students were appointed to learning how to work the GPS system, while the rest of us were split into two groups: those who were doing reconnaissance surveying, and those who were setting up the grid using a compass, large tape measures, string, and ribbon. We marked 20 10x10m units, and surveyed maybe half of them, collecting a variety of artifacts from glass bottles to tennis balls.
We began class by talking about our excavation and site proposals, and how we wanted to continue with our project. Professor Knodell also spent time showing us how the GIS mapping program worked a little bit, and showed us a satellite picture of where Pine Hill Village was in the present day, and then laid a drawing of the Village over the map to see where it lined up with current landmarkers to give us a more accurate picture of where the village was. We then decided to begin excavation by digging trenches at the fire hydrant feature and the rubble pile. We also decided to continue expanding the grid towards the Rec Center.
We indeed began digging the trenches and expanding the grid. There was also a group of surveyors who were surveying units on the grid that had been made last week. I was on the GPS marking team this time though, so I spent my time learning how to mark points on the grid, and other points around the trenches and other features on the grid. Other features included a current presumably usable fire hydrant and some other metal posts. It was raining for most of the time we were working, which was a fun and messy challenge, but overall everyone’s spirits stayed high and good progress was made.
For this week’s lab, class began by dividing into groups for the day, including two excavation teams for the rubble pile feature and the hydrant feature, a mapping team, the GPS team, and the survey team. I was able to be a part of the survey team this week. Our plan was to survey the remaining units, including row 12 which was to be added that day by the mapping team. During the survey, my partner and I found a few things; trash, a can tab, parts of a baseball, and a bottle cap.
After our surveying, we dug two pits where, presumably, the buildings of Pine Hill Village had been built before. Our first pit was beautiful, but unyielding. In our second pit however, we struck what we first figured was rock, but upon closer inspection, appeared to be some sort of man-made building material. By the time we’d found this however, there was not a lot of class time left and so we marked where the concrete was before filling the hole back in so that it could be further looked at and excavated next week.
The class continued to perform fieldwork in a variety of ways, including; trench excavations at Trench 1 (hydrant), Trench 2 (rubble pile), and opened Trench 3 (possible building remains), sifting, shovel test pits, and GPS coordinate point marking. I began as a part of the excavation group for Trench 3, and helped to uncover the soil beneath the plant life that had taken over where we planned to dig. Once the sifting began, I found a new job as the sift holder/sifting. I got to help look for things in the dirt from all of the trenches, and we found some cool things including; rusty nails, small pieces of glass, concrete, ceramic, a plastic pop tab, and more. At about 3:30, Kirsten and I checked through all the survey unit forms to make sure the information we needed was on them. We checked with a few people for handwriting clarity and filled in a few things about the size of each unit, but otherwise most of the forms were well-filled out.
Class began with a discussion about artifacts and how we can group them and use them to tell certain stories about the areas where they were found. Then we broke up into groups to work on classifying and exploring the artifacts we found in our surveys and trenches. I was in the Shovel Test Pit group. We looked at and cleaned some glass, cement, asphalt, brick, and a few other various items. I am most excited about the brick because it has words on it, so it is very possible we can find out when it is from and what it would have been used for in Pine Hill Village.
We ended class by catching up with our final project groups, and discussing progress/ideas on how to continue. In my group, I will be working on creating a map of the area and showing where the features are in relation to where Pine Hill Village is supposed to have been.
This class period was our community archaeology day. We began by setting up our artifacts and laying the most interesting ones out. Then we worked on final projects/artifact analysis until we had our first visitors. I helped explain about what shovel test pits are, and what sort of artifacts we found in them. We had a good number of visitors, most of them adults from the Northfield area/professors. We also had snacks and beverages for them, which we got to dig into as well.
When I wasn’t talking about shovel test pits, I was working on my final project. I cannot do to much from my laptop, because I don’t have the program on it. I mainly focused on recording and identifying Field IDs from the ArcGIS program, and putting them into Excel spreadsheets so that I know what each point is. I also got a short tutorial on how to work the ArcGIS program on Professor Knodell’s laptop from the Professor himself.
For our final class, we continued working on our final projects. After regrouping and discussing the progress of everyone in our group, I continued to work on the map. I figured out how to add map notes and attach pictures to them. I added separate map notes for features, trenches, shovel test pits, and survey units. This took up a lot of class time, but it was much nicer working on ArcGIS online rather than the desktop version.
Towards the end of class, a group of us went out to backfill the trenches we had dug and dispose of the strings that marked our survey units. We worked quickly, and got back in time to pack up and eat some pizza that Knodell ordered for us before we headed out.