Natalie Sainz

Week 9

Today’s lab was a little different than most, but very fun! For part of my group’s final project, we hosted an Archaeology Field Day. We organized this event to show the Northfield and Carleton community what we have discovered in class in regards to Pine Hill Village. We had to uncover the trenches, which was a little tricky because there was a lot of rain on the tarps that weighed them down. We also set up a tarp that covered the table that had pictures of PHV. It was rainy and chilly, which was unfortunate but 10-12 people still showed up! We talked to them about PHV and where things were in relation to our site. We also showed them the trenches and answered any questions they had about our research.

Once the event was over, we had to cover the trenches again and take everything back to the Arb Office. Our group talked about what we plan to do next for our final project. We are planning on making three temporary signs that will be near the PHV site/arb so people can read them and learn about the history of PHV. One sign will be a general overview of Pine Hill Village, which will include the aerial images and building plans of PHV. Another sign will be about the excavation and found artifacts, which will include photographs from the excavation itself and other data about the artifacts. The last sign will focus on the oral history component and will potentially highlight a PHV family that has been identified. We will also include quotes from the oral history group on this sign. Our group is planning to meet tomorrow evening to complete a model of these signs.

Week 8

Yesterday’s lab was tedious, slow, and not as fun as others, but necessary in order to progress our research on Pine Hill Village. Groups were separated by artifacts found in the field survey, the grid, the shovel test pits, and the three trenches. We focused on cataloging all of the artifacts and organizing them into lots. If different artifacts were found in the same survey unit, we placed them into different lots. This was all recorded on an Excel Google doc that included the survey unit that the artifact was found in, the lot number, and other physical descriptions about the artifact. Someone also photographed each artifact with a scale in the picture so we can tell the size from the picture. Since this is mostly now done, we can start to closely examine the artifacts and see if there are any connections between the artifacts and Pine Hill Village.

We also worked on our group projects. I am in the community outreach group so we talked about the progress we made from last time. We contacted Northfield News and they happened to be interested in our archaeology day about Pine Hill Village, which is exciting. We will also be putting up signs to advertise the day, which will be on Tuesday, May 23. Our plan is to also provide food, such as fruit and refreshments, to get more people to come. We also plan to create some sort of temporary signage that will last about 2-3 months so alumni can learn about Pine Hill Village during reunion. If people can’t attend the archaeology day, they can still learn about our work on the site with the signs.

Week 7

Tuesday’s lab was very fun because I did mapping for the first time and also shoveled out two test pits. Our class was split up into different groups again so Joey, Melanie, and I were the mapping group this week. Alex showed us how to use the GPS technology (which was apparently $13,000 dollars), like how to record the points and to ensure the points were accurate as possibly by keeping the system stable. We had to make sure the bubble stayed within the circle on the pole, which was more difficult than I thought it would be. We mapped the excavation site of Trench 1, along with the various shovel test pits (STPs) that were across the survey grid. While we recorded them on the GPS system, we also wrote down the points that we had done. When we mapped, we recorded the points of the corners of each trench or STP. With the STPs, we also mapped the length of the hole by setting the GPS system into the pit.

Since many people were working on shovel test pits, mapping wasn’t constantly needed so there there was a lot of time in between to be productive with other things. So, we completed two STPs. The STP method was an efficient and quick way to see if there was anything in the survey units that we could closely examine or gather information from that dated back to the PHV. We dug a hole in the middle of a survey unit that was about the length of the shovel we were using. In one of the STPs, we found a piece of plastic, ceramic, glass pieces, and a huge piece of cement. Because the cement was so big and we were only doing a shovel test pit, we were not able to uncover the rest of the cement.  We also do not have time to start another excavation area, but this discovery was still exciting. It is very possible that it could be from the Pine Hill Village, possibly from over spill of cement pouring or as foundation for the village. We put the pieces of glass, plastic, and ceramic into bags and recorded their information/where they were found so we can examine them more later. My group was very excited about our discoveries from this first STP that we completed. However, in our other STP, we did not find anything. This STP was also a lot more difficult to do because it was in the forest, with bushes all around us that often got in our way. We still managed to dig out a hole, but we did not find anything.With both STPs, we filled out the forms to describe them and took notes on what we found. Once we were done, we refilled the holes. This lab was definitely one of my favorites because I had a lot of fun with mapping and the STPs. I am looking forward to what we can find out about PHV as we study our artifacts further.

Week 6

Today was a really great lab day! Unlike last week, the weather was nice so being outside for 3 and a half hours was actually enjoyable. Similar to last week, our class divided up into different groups to divide up the work. There was a survey group, mapping group, and two excavation groups. I was part of the excavation group again and continued the work from last week near the rubble pile. This time the site was much easier to excavate because there wasn’t so much rain and the soil was much drier/softer. Instead of troweling, Amie and I used shovel shaving to speed up the process since we were still on the first context. This was still difficult though because there were a lot of big tree roots that were tough to shovel shave over/around. While we were doing this, Grace and Vanessa were sifting through the many piles of soil that we had from last week. We did not find much on the first context, mostly a few pieces of glass and plastic. Among the rubble pile, we found many big pieces of brick. I also sifted through our piles of soil, which was more difficult than I thought it would be. The soil kept clumping up as we moved the sifter back and forth so we had to break the pieces up or grate it ourselves along the grid of the sifter. Moving it back and forth also got very tiring very quickly so our groups made sure to take turns doing it. We managed to get to the second context, where we found more bricks and a strange piece of wire. It is unclear whether this wire is from Pine Hill Village, but it was buried relatively deep into the ground so it could be possible. I was pleased that we were able to find so many artifacts today. Like last week, we placed them in bags that were labeled according to the artifacts’ physical description and where/which context it was found in. I hope to speed up our process by concentrating our excavation efforts closer to the rubble pile, instead of the whole 2 m x 2 m square, since most of our artifacts were found near the rubble. I think we will be able to find more artifacts in a shorter amount of time and encounter more contexts faster.  I am excited to continue excavation on this site and seeing what else we discover.

Week 5

Yesterday, Alex showed us how to use GIS technology and explained why it is really useful for archaeologists. He walked us through steps of assigning the layers (using GIS) over a certain area and how to distort a map/image to make it more accurate. Once Alex finished explaining how to use GIS, we talked about whether we should continue surveying or start excavation on the Pine Hill Village site.

We decided to do both so that we could continue our survey and look for more potential excavation sites, while also starting on the two sites that we knew we wanted to excavate. Our class was divided up into different groups: one group continued to lay out the survey grid, one group did field surveying, one group worked on mapping, and two others groups started excavation around the fire hydrant and the pile of rubble. I was part of the group that started excavation around the pile of rubble, along with 3 of my classmates. We laid out a grid of 2 m x 2 m, which contained a part of the pile of rubble and also some of the surrounding area to hopefully maximize our findings. We did this by putting 2 stakes in the ground, 2 m across from each other in a straight line. Then, in order to make a perfect right angle (and square), we made the line from one corner of the stake 2.83 m diagonally across the opposite corner. Once the square was set up, we began to remove the very thin layer of top soil by shovel shaving. Then, we began troweling, using the trowel tools. Troweling was a little easier than shoveling because the trowels helped get the roots out of the ground better than the shovels did. There were a lot of weeds and other plants that made the process difficult to remove the top layer. In the end, we did remove much of the top layer, along with the vegetation on top. We did find a few artifacts, which composed of 5 pieces of concrete during our excavation. I’m not sure if these artifacts were recently put there or if they could possibly be from the Pine Hill Village site. Although, the latter seems very unlikely because we found them quite close to the top layer. After our excavation, we put our artifacts into bags and recorded what they were. We also filled out an excavation document that provided the context of the area, what we found and where we found it. It was very rainy and cold so it was a little challenging (and muddy) but I felt like our group had a successful first day of excavation. I look forward to continue excavating during next week’s lab.

Week 4

On Thursday, Jerry Sabloff gave a really interesting lecture about his archaeological work in Latin America. He went into detail about the technology, tools, and methods he has used for his work, such as chultuns and horizontal exposure. The chultuns are used to store water from the wet season to use during the dry season. Horizontal exposure is an archaeological method that Jerry Sabloff used in Sayil, where him and his team picked up everything on the top soil layer and basically stripped it to examine it further. I think this is a method that we could use at the Pine Hill Village site. Jerry Sabloff also discussed using LiDar (light detecting and ranging) technology for his archaeological projects.

After his lecture, we went outside to the Pine Hill Village site to start our survey work. Our class of 22 was split up into different groups so we all had roles to serve. There was a group that split part of the area up, using tape and rope to create transects. It was difficult to keep the lines straight, especially once people got into the shrub and tree area, where they struggled to navigate through. Then, pink tape was placed on the rope to create squares that were 10m x 10m. I was put into the group that surveyed the squares and looked for any artifacts on the ground that we could find. Two people were in charge of each square, which was helpful because we could check over each other’s work to make sure we did not miss anything. My partner and I were able to get through 3 squares. We had to fill out a document for each square. We drew what the square looked like, what was surrounding it, any features, and which artifacts were found in the square. We did not find anything in the squares that were closest to the open fields, but we did find a few artifacts in the squares that contained the shrubs. We found a a golf ball, a rubber ball, and a piece of tile. When we found artifacts, we placed them in individual bags that we wrote their information on, such as which square they were found in, who found it, and what material it was made of. This lab has definitely been my favorite so far. I am excited to continue working on the Pine Hill Village site and see what our next steps will be.

Week 3

Yesterday during lab, we learned the basics of archaeological fieldwork, such as what it would look like, how we would design it, and what types of materials are needed for the process. We split up into 3 groups and everyone in the group had a role that was essential for the fieldwork we were doing. There was a documenter, GPS and mapping role (which was my role), and others who walked the field and searched for artifacts. Each group focused on an area outside in the field and people who walked the field used the compass to guide them in a straight path. They were spread out about 10 meters apart from each others and looked for anything they could find. My group found an old shoe, a golfball, ceramic, and some trash. The documenter had to record our findings and the information that I gave them. My role was to use the GPS to map out the area we covered and flag the corners’ coordinates that enclosed the area that we surveyed. I drew a map of the field and drew boxes to outline our coverage as we focused on a small area at a time and one box at a time. I also used tape to place on the corners so that we could easily identify where we had done fieldwork. For some people, it was difficult to walk in a straight path so the tape also helped them do so. At the end of surveying our area, we placed our artifacts in plastic bags and labeled them. I was pleased that our group didn’t seem to run into any challenges, considering it was our first time surveying a field. I thought the GPS and mapping was a little challenging at first, but I was able to get the hang of it in the end. Overall, I would say our group was pretty successful because we were able to cover a lot of ground within our lab time.

Week 2

This week’s lab was quite busy, but filled with a lot of information that will be useful for the rest of the course. First, we learned about the Carleton Archives in the libe, which I thought was neat because I didn’t even know such a place existed on campus. We met with a manager of the archives, who told us about what exactly they do and how students can access the archives. I plan on utilizing it for any future research projects, like my historical interest paper. We also had the opportunity to look at old pictures of the Women’s League Cabin, which were really cool to look at.

Then, we took a trip to the Rice County Historical Society, where we learned about some basic archaeological methods from an archaeologist who volunteers at the Society. We learned about the different historical time periods and saw different artifacts made from rocks and clay, such as arrowheads and pottery, and also looked at rocks themselves. I thought the tools were really interesting to look at and think about how people made them in the first place. I also liked hearing from the archaeologist because he knew so much information about each artifact he showed us. We also took a walk through the Historical Society. I didn’t know how much historical significance Rice County held so I enjoyed learning about it at the visit.

At the end of the lab, we also went to an old mill site in Dunbas. The site was pretty much in ruins but it was still interesting to learn about the history of it and walk through it.

Week 1

Coming into this class, I wasn’t exactly sure what we would be researching in Northfield, MN because I didn’t know the vast historical interest that the small city holds. I enjoyed Alex’s lecture on Tuesday about how archaeology has evolved throughout history and the different methods used for research. I was also very excited to get outside and experience the nice weather in the arb. I haven’t explored the arb much so I really enjoyed the tour with Nancy. I also wasn’t previously aware of the women’s league cabin so I liked hearing a little bit about the history of it and other historical places within the arb.

On Thursday, we  did an activity in which we described our home environment, thinking about what it would look like without human activity. It was interesting to think about what this would look like because I like in a big city, Houston, where there has been a lot of human activity in most of the area. Thinking about the nature still there, I thought that there would be a lot of oak trees, fields of grass, and much more wildlife. We thought about the important attributes to an environment, such as bodies of water, wildlife and landscape. We also worked in groups to explore the different landscapes that Carleton has, including the areas around the hill of 3 oaks and the Lyman Lakes. I previously had the misconception that Carleton was a flat campus and I didn’t know how much the landscape actually varied so it was cool to see the variety.  I look forward to learning about the history of the surrounding Carleton area in future classes.