Tuesday 9 April 2019:
We visited the Rice County Historical Society, a small museum but one endowed with a rich collection of prehistoric, archaic, and historic artefacts from around the southern Minnesota area. We were able to get a detailed and engaging tour of the museum by Susan Garwood, the Executive Director, whose knowledge of the collection and its history greatly augmented our experience of the museum itself. We first looked at a map of the Rice County area, one which showed the general topography of the area and its natural formations in order for us to understand the natural history of the land and how this could have affected where people settled and where artefacts were found. We then briefly toured cases of prehistoric stone tools, prehistoric bones, and historical artefacts from the early nineteenth century to the late nineteenth century. What I found really interesting was the volume of prehistoric artefacts that the museum held; I had no idea, prior to this, that so many stone tools and other vestiges of prehistoric material culture had been found in Minnesota. I had not, prior to this, really considered the history of Minnesota before the Anglo-Americans moved out here, because most of the historical records we have are from after this period, but it was interesting to see such immediate and intimate evidence of the presence of prehistoric people here. I also really liked looking at the reconstructed buildings and streets, because it placed the artefacts we saw in a more personal historical context. None of these artefacts existed in a vacuum, and it is important for us to see them as evidence of actual people’s lives and cultures.
Tuesday 16 April 2019:
In lab today, we took a trip down to the Lower Arb in a forest by the Waterford Bridge. We split into two survey groups, each of which divided the land into transects on either side of the path: my group was on the south side of the path, and the other group was on the north side of the path. We divided the area into six transects, each 5 meters wide. The first survey moved down a path of 250 degrees W, the second 70 degrees E, and the last 272 degrees W. We were looking for any evidence of human material remains, but we found nothing on any of these transects except a good-sized garter snake, a lot of thorn bushes, and some deer feces. The group on the south side found a massive pile of farmers’ gear from a while ago, all of which was rusted over, as well as a good amount of pottery shards. These shards were mostly uniform in design — white with a blue floral design on the rim — and were mixed in with some old bottles. The group collected these artefacts into plastic bag.