This week’s lab consisted of a tour of the Arb, a tour which I definitely needed because it was my first time in the Arb. Nancy Bracker, Director of the Arb, focused on the history of the arb, both in terms of it’s original purpose as an arboretum and now as a restoration project and the many historical areas of interest within the Arb, particularly the Women’s League Cabin and the Waterford Mill Dam, or what’s left of them. Other focuses were on the the geographical features that would influence what would be found in an area, like a flood plane. Unlike some people in the class, I am not normally thrilled to spend long amounts of time outside, hence Tuesday being the first time in the Arb. This fact will probably remain one of my largest struggles in the class. However, I do get excited about local history and the contributions archeology makes to history and learning about the area, both through the tour and though future field work, was and hopefully will continue to be fascinating and exciting.
This week’s lab consisted of an introduction to the Carleton Archives, which I was very excited to become more familiar with. I know for certain that I will continue to use that resource long after this class is over, at least for personal interests. We then traveled to the Rice County Historical Society, which I also found very interesting. A retired archeologist was explaining his process of examining a collection of projectile points and other rocks that gathered by a local and later donated. It was fascinating to see the vast history through the projectile points and related objects that originate from this region, and for the few artifacts that weren’t local how far they traveled. I also found the set up and design of the historical society fascinating, contrasting it with my own home one. Highlighting certain people of the community and both show casing more impressive objects, but also more personal ones at the same time, an added level of humanity to just reading about a person. And that idea is what archeology in part deals with, adding to our understanding of people through material culture and objects.
This week’s lab consisted of practicing archeological survey methods, which essentially meant walking systematically through a cornfield looking for trash. We divided up into three teams of seven; one person was team leader, keeping track of what was found, another was in charge of GPS and noting the locations of the boundaries of the area we surveyed. The other five of us walked the field spaced approximately 10m apart. Starting off in a cornfield was a really great idea because of how much easier it was to walk in a straight line, a fact that I didn’t quite think I would have so much trouble with but kinda did. I didn’t find anything particularly interesting in my area, though in hindsight I maybe should have picked up the rubber hose that I did find, erring on over-collecting instead of under-collecting. Still, the exercise was really interesting and it was really interesting what we did find, from golf balls, shoes (not of the same pair), ceramic, etc.
This week we had a guest speaker,Jerry Sabloff, an archeologist with decades of experience, specifically with Ancient Mayan archaeology. It was quite interesting to hear about his work and ask questions. During out lab period we started surveying the Pine Hill Village site. Getting started was a little slow at first, trying to orient ourselves and figure out exactly what we should be doing. We quickly figured things out though, and I ended up on the team that was working on extending the survey area vertically towards Goodhue. It was much harder to walk in a straight line through vegetation, which made the compass that much more important. Another challenge we had to deal with was the fact that there was a path right through our survey area, and so making sure that our lines didn’t cross the road and accidentally trip people.
Well, this week’s lab sucked. To be fair, it had to do entirely with the weather – cold and rainy – and not the work itself. I continued to work on extending the survey grids, which I enjoyed last time. As in previous labs, walking in the right direction was more challenging than you would expect, and the first 10-15 minutes of the lab was spent trying to figure out exactly where the line extended on the compass then the rest of the lab period attempting to keep that angle throughout the process. Half way through the lab we adopted the strategy of measuring ten meters from the fifty meter mark of the last row of survey units to add another layer of confirmation that we were creating the grids as accurately as possible.
This week I was on the mapping team and using the DGPS, which was really cool. We mainly focused on mapping the locations of some of the large pine trees that we think might correspond to the trees mapped out in a blueprint of the area. We also mapped the ridge of the hill, to theoretically see how far the road could have theoretically extended, because our current hypothesis is that the current path is based on the road that existed in the 1940s and 50s, though smaller. When we ran out of things to map we moved to attempting to clear the asphalt road that peaks through the area. I was quite surprised to find that it was much wider than we originally thought based on what was visible. Over the sixty or so years the road had become covered in several inches of dirt and plant matter.
This week I spent the majority of the time a sifter for Trench 1, which was excavating around the fire hydrant we had found about ground. It turns out that I don’t have quite the upper body strength needed to sift properly, so thankfully others, namely Marly, were also there as part of the makeshift sifting team. The excavation teams would give us buckets of the dirt they had removed in order to make sure they hadn’t missed anything smaller. For Trench 1 there were mostly small pieces of glass that they had missed, along with some nails.
This week’s lab consisted of artifact analysis. I was focused on what was found in the excavation trenches trying to provide initial categorical information like the material, a description, and the purpose of the object if it was obvious. For example, a brick is obviously building material. I had a lot of trouble figuring out what the lot of the objects should be but I acted as if I thought it might have come from the same object. Several pieces of broken green glass, for example, was one lot.
This week’s work was less extensive than other weeks, as we wrapped up our artifact analysis. I worked for the most part on a bottle opener, which I unfortunately couldn’t date by the design. It could have been manufactured anywhere in between 1894 and a year ago. It was also community archaeology day, which means that we shared our findings with the few people who were willing to make the trek. It was nice to share the efforts of our work.
This was our last lab period and we spend a majority of time working on our final projects. There was an interesting conversation about how to curate our artifacts. How do we store, what we’d want to display, etc. Storage wasn’t necessarily an issue in our case, but it’s something that we’d have to consider for larger projects. The last half hour or so was spent making sure everything was in order. I specifically worked on creating and cleaning up a master spreadsheet of all of our artifacts and making sure the google drive was in order.