Sarah Lieberman

Week 1:

On our first day of class, Alex introduced himself and asked us to share a few quick facts about ourselves, one of which being why we are taking archaeology. Most people in the class said that they were taking the course to learn more about humanity, and because they felt like they could apply what they’d learned in their other classes to this course. I found it especially interesting that each of us felt like we could apply prior knowledge to archaeology, especially considering that our interests are so varied. It seems like no matter what major we may be pursuing (or considering), we each feel like archaeology is pertinent to our Carleton education because it’s such a multi-disciplinary field.

The lecture Alex gave us reinforced the idea of archaeology as a multi-disciplinary field. He went through all the different subjects archaeology pertains to, along with the big moments in archaeological history, the major technological advancements in the field, and the different levels of archaeological theory. The lesson provided us with a basic understanding of archaeology and its methods, which I’m excited to continue learning about. Then, we took a long hike in the Arb to scope out potential digging sites.

On Thursday, we had a guest professor who presented on geoarchaeology. She asked us to describe the landscapes of our hometowns (whether they’re hilly, flat, near water, etc.). Next, we made a list of all the important characteristics of “place” to guide us in our field work. We split into groups and were asked to go to different spots on campus. At each spot, we surveyed the characteristics of the land, as we had done earlier when imagining our homes. After this field work, we had a brief presentation on the importance of land surveyance to geoarchaeology. The professor used her own work in Grevena, Greece to illustrate this connection. It was so interesting to hear about her experience combining geology and archaeology, especially in the context of her work in Greece, since it reemphasized the multi-disciplinary nature of archaeology in a very tangible way. I’m excited to keep exploring archaeology through the lens of other disciplines!

Week 2:

On Tuesday, our class visited three places. First, we went to the Carleton College Library archives. We learned how to access historical data specific to Carleton, like building plans and journal entries. We also looked at data about the Women’s League Cabin, including photos of Carleton students in the cabin, journal entires about the cabin, and legal documents regarding finances (etc.) for the cabin. Next, we went to Faribault to visit the Rice County Historical Society. We met with an archaeologist there; he came to the Historical Society specifically to organize a collection of Native American stone tools, which he spoke to us about. He explained how the Native Americans made the tools, detailing the different processes and techniques used to achieve certain effects.  He also showed us how the tools evolved over time. We started by analyzing arrow heads from the Paleolithic period and ended by examining hammers and axes from more recent times. Finally, on our way home, we visited the Archibald Mill Site in Dundas and saw the remains of the Mill. It was really interesting to see how parts of the Mill’s infrastructure had survived over the years, since the Mill has been in ruins since the 1930s. Considering the Mill’s location (partially submerged in a river and subject to freezing Minnesota temperatures), I’d say it’s held up pretty well!

On Thursday, we discussed the Deetz readings and then presented on historical places of interest. We split into three groups based on which sites we had researched. One group discussed places on central campus (like Willis Hall), one discussed places in the arb (like Pine Hill Village), and the last one discussed places in Northfield (like the Ames Mill). I had researched Pine Hill Village, a demolished WWII housing unit for veterans attending Carleton in the 1950s who wanted to live with their spouses. The Village was located where our recreational center is now. The class seemed really interested in the site; in fact, a lot of other students had researched it as well. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to learn more about Pine Hill throughout the course, and maybe even dig there!

Week 3:

Today, during the lecture/discussion portion of our class, we discussed archaeological survey and reviewed readings about the topic. First, we recapped the articles we had read by specifying the different types of survey. We touched upon aerial reconnaissance and remote and underwater sensing, but we mainly focused on pedestrian survey. We learned that pedestrian survey often includes field walking, in which archaeologists divide dig sites into gridded patterns and carefully traverse the land by grid section (for example, an archaeologist could go looking for artifacts in grid section A1). Although these surveys are different in practice, they are all “horizontally” or spatially inclined, and tend to be more concerned with a 2D, map-like approach in order to prepare for excavations.

Next, we discussed the characterization of artifacts and features. Artifacts are usually characterized by their material first, such as plastic, metal, glass, or organic (etc.), and by their purpose second. For example, if I found a nail on a dig site, I would classify it as metal first, and then I could specify and say that it’s also a building material. Features, on the other hand, are man-made, anthropogenic items, like roads, middens, or monuments. There are also natural features, like hills and valleys.

We applied the two topics of our lecture in the field during our lab period, first mapping out an area of the Arb by the baseball field and dividing it into sections, and then looking for and classifying artifacts in those sections. My group walked the section closest to the baseball field, and we actually found a lot of artifacts, including concrete, rubber tire remains, an old metal can, golf balls, and a plastic bottle cap. We then cataloged our finds, taking down the material of the object, its classification, and which sweep we found it on (etc.). I’m excited to continue our survey work and really delve into one area once we pick a dig site!

Week 4:

Today, we had a lecture from visiting professor Jerry Sabloff. He went into greater detail about his work in Mexico, delving specifically into the different survey techniques his team used on site. I especially enjoyed hearing about his experience surveying Mayan ruins; he talked about excavating a large building (assumed to be a palace) and what that structure meant in historical context. After his lecture, Jerry accompanied us the Pine Hill Village site, where we began setting up our survey grid plan. We used string to measure out the rows of our grid, and marked column boundaries with neon pink marking tape. Once the first row was set up, those of us who were not working on grid marking began to survey the landscape. My partner and I surveyed areas X17 and X16. We actually found a lot of interesting artifacts, including a bottle cap, old scrap of (what we assumed is) newspaper, and part of a flower pot (which Jerry helped us find!). We recorded our findings on survey sheets and brought our artifacts back to the Arb Office at the end of lab. Overall, it was a fun day! Although it took us a while to get the hang of marking the boundaries of our grid, we learned a lot about how to set up an archaeological site. I’d even venture to say that we managed to get a good amount of work done once we got over the initial hump! I look forward to continuing our work on Pine Hill Village next week.

Week 5:

Unfortunately, I was out sick today, so I missed our first big excavation day. From what I’ve read from other students’ blog posts though, it seemed to be a success! The class applied concepts from our readings and lectures to its excavation efforts, conducting even more pedestrian surveys to get a more complete lay of the land and making test pits around key areas (such as the rubble pile and old fire hydrant). Hopefully, on our next excavation day, we will continue to dig test pits, or even concentrate our efforts on one pit near an area that seems particularly fruitful. Then, we can apply what we’ve learned about stratification and artifact analyzation to our finds and go into further depth about what the artifacts we’ve found mean in a historical context. I look forward to seeing what next week holds for us!

Week 6:

Today, I worked on excavating Trench 1 around the old fire hydrant. My group had a very productive day! We found tons of artifacts, including remnants of what may have been a toy pistol, large shards of textured glass which appear to be from a window, chunks of asphalt, and parts of a cobblestone pathway about 6 inches below ground level which appear to lead to the road. I’m hopeful that we will continue to find interesting artifacts as we dig deeper below the surface. For now, I think it would be really interesting to see if we could place the origin of the glass pieces (maybe by going to the archives and seeing if they have a picture featuring windows from Pine Hill Village?) but we may want to hold off on this until we finish our excavations. Also, I’m curious to see if there’s any photographic evidence of the path we began to uncover today. I think seeing a picture of the path would give us a clearer picture of where to make more shovel test pits, although we were pretty successful with our test pits today without photographic guidance (one group found remnants of building foundations about 2 feet below the surface!). I’m really excited to continue our excavations next week. Hopefully we’ll find just as many artifacts and features as we did this week!

Week 7:

Today was our last day digging in the field. I worked on excavating Trench 1 again, but our group had less success than we did last week. Although we did find some cool artifacts, like a bottle opener and a few more large pieces of glass, I think our whole group was a little disappointed by the decreased number of findings. However, even if we didn’t find as much as we wanted to, we were excited to finally reach 6 inches in depth! After hitting this milestone, we decided to stop digging and leveled out the different contexts in our trench. Then, we closed up shop for the day. We’ll backfill the trench once other groups have decided whether or not they want to recreate our trench digitally for their final projects.

On another note, I’m excited to get started on our final projects and use what we’ve found in the field to support our research. It’ll be interesting to see how everything comes together!

Week 7:

This week, we began cleaning off and cataloguing the artifacts we found in the field. We split into a few different groups, like field survey and trench excavations. I worked with the field survey group. We made a google spreadsheet to organize our findings, labeling our artifacts by lot number, material, interpretation (etc.). Our group had some really cool finds, including a soda bottle fragment which we were able to date to the 1950s by looking at the label. So far, we haven’t found anything from the same time period as Pine Hill Village, but I’m hopeful! Maybe next week we’ll have more luck.

Week 8:

Today was our community archaeology day! Although the weather was not ideal (dark, cold, rainy, generally gloomy), we still got a few visitors who seemed to take a great interest in our work. Those who visited were fascinated by the artifacts, especially the toy gun we found in Trench 1. Those who were not involved in community archaeology worked on final projects. I spent most of the day finding Pine Hill Village residents through Algol books (Carleton yearbooks with short bios next to each student) and emailing the alums who were still alive. Within these emails, we asked whether the alums would be willing to share their memories of Pine Hill Village with us either by phone interview or through google survey. I’m excited to see the responses we get from them! Hopefully, they’ll have some cool stories to share with us.

Week 9:

Today, we used our lab period to work in our groups on final projects. My group had a huge breakthrough today after talking to a lovely gentleman named Jack Thurnblad ’49, who lived in Pine Hill Village with his wife Jinny ’48. Jack was excited to help us with our project and responded to our questions with thought and enthusiasm. We talked with Jack for about 30 minutes about his experience at Pine Hill Village. He met his wife Jinny at a Carleton dance and moved into Pine Hill Village after getting married. Jack talked about how wonderful the Pine Hill community was, and he told us that his favorite thing about Pine Hill Village was the people who lived there. When thinking about Carleton and Pine Hill Village, Jack said he has “warm feelings.”

After talking to Jack, our group decided to rework our approach to gathering information on Pine Hill Village and focus exclusively on phone interviews. We later talked to the Goode family, who lived in Pine Hill Village and had a child there. We were only able to speak with Mr. Goode, as Mrs. Goode was out, but we still gathered a lot of information regarding Pine Hill and what life was like there for families. Mr. Goode explained that balancing family life and school life came pretty naturally, although there was a clear separation between the Pine Hill and Carleton communities. He laughed that he never had any trouble finding babysitters for his daughter though, since all of the college students were so eager to help take care of the children. Mr. Goode also went into extensive detail about the living conditions in Pine Hill, which seemed tolerable but certainly not ideal.

Overall, we had a really successful day! I loved interviewing Pine Hill residents. They added so much character and life to our project. I’m excited to see how it turns out!

Week 10:

Today was our last day of class. We spent our final class period working on our final projects, organizing data, backfilling trenches, and cleaning up the Arb Office. We ended class with pizza and cheesy bread to celebrate a job well done.

On another note, I’m really happy with how our final project is turning out. We’ve uploaded and transcribed all of our interviews, found photos of our interviewees from Algols, and basically finished formatting. All we need to do now is synthesize our individual analyses of the interviews and double check everything! I really enjoyed this project, mostly because the people we interviewed were so kind and helpful; they really loved being at Carleton. I hope we were able to effectively capture all of their wonderful dispositions in our project.

I’ll definitely miss this class and the friends I made in it! Best of luck to the next archaeological methods class.