Randa Larsen

Week 10

This was our last lab/class session of the term! Most of the time consisted of doing work on our final projects and having some wrap-up discussions about curation and what we will do with the artifacts and our new found knowledge about Pine Hill Village. Overall, we concluded that although we do not have to worry about storage issues in the near future (things will be either on display in the college library or in Alex’s office), this is a topic that needs to be further discussed because storage problems can persist and cause more problems in the future. We also went and filled up our excavation pits/trenches from the previous class sessions. It was sad to fill them up and move on, but a necessary action. Hopefully a future class will go in and pick up where we left off.

I have enjoyed being in Archaeological Methods this spring! The class has given me a new found appreciation for the field and I look forward to working this subject into my Sociology and Anthropology major and into other classes at Carleton.

Week 9

This week we had a community archaeology day where members of the Carleton and Northfield communities could come and learn about what we have spent the past term working on. It was interesting to learn that not even some of the people who have been involved with the college for years knew a lot, if anything at all, about Pine Hill Village. I think it is safe to say that we all had fun telling (and sometimes bragging to) the people who came in about what we excavated and discovered via archival and historical research. It feels good to know that our class is unearthing a part of Carleton’s history that so few people know a large amount about and I think that as the class moves forward more information about Pine Hill Village will surface. It would have been nicer if a few more people (particularly students) showed up to our community outreach event, but considering the weather and that it was during a class I think it was a fair turnout!

In addition to talking to the community members, I did some more work on my group’s final project. This consisted of uploading a table, venn diagram, and some photos to the website. I am pretty happy with where my part of the project is but it is a waiting game with some of the archival staff at St. Olaf and Macalester so hopefully, Amie and I will get more contextual information about veteran housing at those schools soon.

Week 8

During this week’s lab session we stayed inside to start analyzing and noting the artifacts we collected in the field over the past weeks. Before we started opening the artifact bags and cleaning the objects, we discussed the reading assigned for Tuesday (Gosden and Marshall) and went over what that we want to learn about things. Some of the key points were chronology, composition, use, and function (use does not equal function). We also went over the differences between object biography (a story of the life of an object which includes a timeline) and use-life (how something was designed and made and eventually how it was used).

Before we began to check out the artifacts found from the collection units (survey units, excavations, shovel test pits) we listed what we would record in the google spreadsheet ( the lot, material, quantity, description, typology, chronology, use/function, and interpretation). We also were told to take photos, with a scale, of the artifacts. Today, I worked with the artifacts collected from the shovel test pits (STPs) and I documented for the google spreadsheet. We worked mainly with pieces of glass, some plastic objects, chunks of asphalt and cement, and a couple bricks. I am looking forward to investigating the chronology of these artifacts and hopefully getting things to a more concise time period.

Week 7

This week we continued to work in the field with groups doing excavation (trenches and test pits), mapping, and survey organizing. I went back to working in Trench 1 (the fire hydrant) and my job mainly consisted of trowelling and digging deeper into the trench to uncover more artifacts and learn more about the features. It was interesting to start working with the path stones that the excavating group uncovered last week because I learned more about this trench than I had the past week. In terms of artifacts, we mostly found smaller pieces of glass, some rubber pieces, a few pieces of stone (likely the same as what the large stone path was made out of), and a few nails and other metal chunks. According to the people who were excavating in the trench during week 6, the finds this week were less “amazing” or “significant” (definitions of these terms vary). Last week they found larger pieces of class (a possible window pane), the concrete path, and some other pieces of significance whereas this week we found smaller pieces of glass and not a lot of “big” and “important” artifacts.

It is sad to be done, for the most part, with the trench excavation. I think that there is still so much more to uncover at this site (where does the path go? more glass pieces? etc.) and I hope that future archaeology classes decide to dig deeper into these sites (pun intended).

Week 6

For lab this week we again investigated the Pine Hill Village site. After splitting into groups, I was a part of the mapping team for most of the time. For this, we used the DGPS (same thing that other groups have used during weeks 4 and 5) to mark several key features. There were three of us working with the DGPS; one of us used the technology to mark the point, another person documented, and the third person was responsible for taking pictures or just being an extra set of hands. We started by marking some pine trees that may have been noted on the map of PHV that we got from Carleton’s archives. Then we moved on to trace the slope of the hillside (towards Goodhue). Doing this will help us better assess how far the road going through PHV might have gone because it had to be larger than the current path (during PHV time the road needed to sustain two cars). Once finished with that, we also marked the spots where the survey team expanded the grid (one more row towards Goodhue on the hillside).

Since we finished earlier with this task than expected, our group also worked to do some shovel work around the asphalt road feature. We found where the asphalt dropped off and got a better idea of where the road might have gone. It seems like it probably curved around somewhere but we did not uncover the whole feature (did not want to make the grounds crew angry by digging) so it is still a little difficult to confirm anything now.

Overall, this lab session was much more successful than last weeks! The weather was great and we uncovered a lot of cool artifacts and features!

Week 5

For Tuesday’s lab session we went back out to the Pine Hill Village site and split up into groups to further our exploration of the area. I was a part of the Excavation 1 team and we were responsible for starting to excavate the area surrounding the fire hydrant feature. Getting everything started and situated was slow going at first but once we got the hang of using the shovels and trowels and figuring out how to fill out the excavation forms, it got a lot easier. It was also rainy the entire time we were out there which made documenting our finds, which I was partially in charge of, pretty difficult. Sifting through the discarded dirt was also a challenge due to the wetness. We all got pretty dirty… Regarding artifacts found in the excavation site, we discovered a couple shards of glass and some rubber or plastic remains. Hopefully, we will find more artifacts or features (like a pipe system) as we continue to dig into different contexts. I enjoyed being on the excavation team (despite the weather) and I look forward to doing more of it next week when the weather is hopefully nicer!

Week 4

At the start of class on Tuesday (April 18) we had a guest speaker, Professor Jeremy Sabloff, tell us about his work at the Sayil ruins archaeological site in Mexico. It was interesting to hear about the methods and techniques he and his team used while surveying and excavating the location as well as hearing about what was discovered. After discussion with him, we went out to the Pine Hill Village site in the Upper Arb to do some surveying. I was part of a two-person survey team and was responsible for looking in a designated grid-box for artifacts and or features. Out of the three grids, I looked at, I found several glass bottles (or remains of some), a piece of metal, and some pieces of plastic. These artifacts were discovered once we got deeper into the wooded area which was not so close to the lacrosse fields (probably a result of the lack of lawn-care so artifacts stay put for longer). Even though getting the grids organized was a bit difficult with the wind and the fact we did not really know what we were doing, I enjoyed doing this survey activity because I think if we keep looking at this site we will uncover some really neat things about a part of Carleton’s history that not many people know much about.

Week 3

This past lab session consisted mainly of us going out to the harvested corn field behind the baseball fields to conduct a survey mainly through field walking. My job was to walk down the field in a straight line due North and then document the artifacts I saw in my direct path. For the most part, I found a lot of plastic bags and candy wrappers as well as a couple pieces of paper. I did not collect any of these artifacts because they were not of any particular significance. The other people in my team collected some things of greater value like ceramics, an old bottle type thing, and a tire rim (?). I enjoyed getting out in the field and practicing a type of pedestrian survey, which we read about in the readings for Tuesday, so it was nice to actually try something and see how it works. One challenge I did face, however, regarding the survey was walking in a straight line and not getting off track. It was difficult especially because my land was not on the field so there was not any line in the ground that I could follow so it was a lot of looking at my compass.

Week 2

This week we went to the Rice County Historical Society in Faribault to learn more about the history of Carleton’s surrounding area. It was very interesting to talk with an archaeologist, Merv (spelling?), there who has been doing work with Native American arrowheads for the past few months. Because he did not do the majority of his professional work in Southern Minnesota (rather he was in Western North Dakota) this was a new challenge for him to figure out what era these artifacts belonged to and what groups likely produced them. Our meeting with him reminded me that not every archaeologist is an expert in everything archaeology related. Merv was not a specialist in pottery, and though he knew some things about it, he did not seem as confident discussing it as he did with the arrowheads. The visit to the historical society was also beneficial in that we got to learn about how their records are kept and more about the records themselves (how writing styles changed over time). After, we went to the Dundas Mill site where we were able to put the readings we did for the class to better use. This visit was helpful as it allowed us to see the remains of the mill and also get an idea of the landscape and ecology around the site so we could know why this place was an ideal location for a mill (narrow part of the river, fast moving water, island on another side).

Week 1

We actually went outside these first couple days! Granted, we did not do any excavation but I did get a good sense of where certain things were in the Arb through the walk with Nancy Braker. On the second day, we also got to get outside and look more closely at the geography of Carleton’s campus with Mary Savina. I think that both of these excursions with Nancy and Mary were very useful as they allowed me to put what we read about and discussed a little bit in the context of Carleton. After this first week, I am excited to learn more and actually get to some more hands-on work, like excavations and more in-depth surveys, in the upcoming weeks!