Week 2: Rice County Museum
For our first lab of this class, we visited the Rice County Museum of History. It was an interesting opportunity to learn more about the history of Northfield and the rest of Rice County, as well as to view artifacts from the area. First, we viewed a topographical map of Rice County and a bit of history associated with it. Glaciers helped to shape Minnesota’s geography, and the most recent one covered only part of Rice County, leaving one area more hilly while the rest was leveled out more, and many lakes were left behind. Many prehistoric artifacts in the county have been found near these lakes.
We then got a chance to view various artifacts from Rice County. The museum had a good collection of prehistoric artifacts, and we got a chance to look at the ones on display and learn a bit about how the tools people used changed over time. We saw a few artifacts that were in boxes and not yet on display, as well. There were also some bison bones that were found in Rice County. Overall, I was surprised by how much prehistoric archaeology there is in Rice County given how little has been found in Northfield.
Lastly, we looked at some maps of Rice County, Northfield, and Faribault. I saw plat maps and maps showing where buildings were located, among others. I’d never really thought about just how much information can be gathered from maps before.
Week 3: Survey in the Arb
This week, we went to an old farm dump in the arb and did fieldwalking to see what artifacts we could find on the surface. We were originally going to go to one field, but there was a controlled burn happening there, so we headed toward a more wooded area. It was a bit of a muddy walk, but once we got there, we could start surveying.
One of the first things we did was measure how many strides it took for each of us to cross 10 meters (13 steps for me) so we could use that information to space ourselves out appropriately while walking. We were split into two groups that each surveyed one side of the path through the arb. The other group, which had the clearer side, went first. Once they got going, my group started. We were walking through a lot more trees, which made it difficult to walk in a straight line. We ended up having to use a measuring tape to space ourselves out 5 meters apart. Since I was closest to the path, I tied some flagging tape around a nearby bush to mark the corner of the survey unit. We used the compasses on our phones to make sure we were all walking in the same direction and then we set off, scanning the ground around of us for artifacts.
As I walked, I found 2 large pieces of wood, two bricks, a small sheet of plastic, a lighter, and a rusted can. Most other people in my group found even more artifacts: big piles cans, pieces of glass, and things like that. When we reached the end, I used another piece of flagging tape to mark the end, and then it was time to bag the artifacts. We put the artifacts by category into bags that we then labelled in permanent marker with information about where we found them. There was one person in each group who was responsible for recording everything, and we told that person what we had found. Once everything was recorded, we carried the bags back to the cars and went back to Carleton.