Tuesday Lab, April 9, 2019: WEEK 2 OF ARCN 246
When we first entered the Rice County Historical Society, I was thrilled to see that one wall of the space had been made up to resemble a scaled-down 18th-19th century high street, complete with a jail, shops, and a little dining room. I never got around to exploring the street in the depth that I wanted, but luckily what distracted me from this charming scene was a display that was also very interesting to me: the area presenting Rice County’s prehistoric and indigenous past.
Having recently taken a class on prehistory I was excited to be able to examine the lithic artifacts with a critical eye. I was also interested to learn that though many of the lithics resembled arrowheads, they were more likely to be used for food processing, functioning as a cutting or scraping tool. Additionally, Ms. Garwood’s account of one mistaken professor’s insistence that the muskrat mounds along the banks of the Cannon were indigenous burial mounds was not only amusing, but an effective cautionary tale against leaping to the most interesting conclusion when no supporting evidence has been found.
As informative as my time at the Rice County Historical Society was, it was far too short. I would like to return to there some day and explore the rest of the collection– especially the little high street.
Tuesday Lab, April 16, 2019: WEEK 3 OF ARCN 246
After last week’s excursion to the Rice County Historical Society, our lab section ventured into the great outdoors to finally get some firsthand experience with one of the archaeological methods we have been studying in class: fieldwalking. Our lab group had initially elected to survey a grassy, open area of the Upper Arb, only to discover to our dismay that it was being selectively burned. We decided to steer clear of that, and instead surveyed an area of the Lower Arb. Our lab section split into two groups, and each conducted a fieldwalking survey.
As I am one of the students writing the Fieldwork Journal for this week, I was responsible for the Survey Unit Form (SUF), describing the area surveyed and recording the artifacts discovered. I marked the topography of the unit, the bearing of the fieldwalkers, their spacing and the length paced, and the number of artifacts seen and collected. The terrain was forested and extremely uneven, making it slow going. We went so slowly, in fact, that we were only able to complete a single survey unit by the end of lab. Luckily for us, the unit was absolutely littered with artifacts, particularly tin cans, ceramic shards, and broken glass. Individual students selected certain artifacts to bag and label, and I noted them on the SUF.
Overall, lab today was interesting, informative, and fun. Being placed in charge of filling out the SUF gave me a greater appreciation for the efforts of all my group mates, as well as a deeper understanding of how such surveys are constructed and recorded. I look forward to repeating this process at the site we choose to focus on this term, whatever that may be.