Miyuki Mihira

Week 2 April 9, 2019

On Wednesday(April 10), our lab team intended to drive to the Rice County Historical Society in Faribault, but due to the snowy weather, the fieldwork was canceled. So, I would like to write down what I learned and thought during the Archive session on Tuesday.

On Tuesday(April 9), we had an Archive session with Nat Wilson at the Carleton College Archives. He gave us a presentation about archives, especially in Northfield and Rice County. In his presentation, he mainly talked about how to utilize the archives and emphasized the importance of organizing and keeping archives in proper ways. He showed us clear examples of the well-organized archives and poorly-organized archives depending on the funding. In the former case, such as Carleton Archives, each archive is labeled in terms of when, where, and who created. On the other hand, in the latter case, such as MSAB Archives, which I have been working on for a project in another class, there are not enough professionals to organize the archives because of lacking in funding and sometimes they do not even have labels, making it harder for researchers to find a connection between their research and the archive itself. He told us that digitization is convenient for users but it is too expensive and time-consuming for small organizations to do it. While I was listening to this presentation, I remembered a word of archaeological research, “Now, recording(archiving) as well as researching is one of the most crucial phases when it comes to archaeological research.” Also, at a phase even before research, archives are crucial to narrow down the research target and make research questions. His words at the end of the presentation, “The resources you found are not all necessarily correct,” made me reaffirm the importance of applying critical thinking on primary resources as well as secondary resources. It seems that the state of archives could greatly influence the research.

After the presentation by Nat Wilson, he showed us records, documents, and images from Carleton Women’s League Cabin. I saw a lot of images captured college students and all the images at least I took a look had labels on their back. Apparently, they were archived well that most images were taken earlier than I thought. In one of the folders, there was a document which a lot of students’ signs were on. With handwritings of people who had actually lived their college life at Carleton, I felt a personal connection with the past which is crucial for public history/archaeology.


Week 3 April 17, 2019

On Wednesday(April 17), our lab team head to the Arb to conduct a fieldwalking and survey. First, we listened to an explanation for the survey. We learned methodology and tools to conduct a survey, such as how to decide units to assign each team member and how to record objects we found during the survey. Regarding the former, as shown in the picture below, we 1) mark the corner of the units with tapes, 2) just walk the approximately 10 meters-long path assigned for each member while looking down the ground to find something to record, and 3) collect materials, 4) and record. When we assigned roles, I was expecting to be a recording or drawing person, but it turned out that it should be assigned to lab journal writers so I would try the other assignment next time. Regarding recording the objects we found during the survey, we record objects which are ceramics, lithics, metals, plastics, glasses, or other. They might be things which we are able to know what they are or which have a mark on it. I thought it is important to make clear criteria of what to count and what not to count.


We downed to the Arb under the heavy rain. The ground soaked a lot of water and I thought it made it easier for us to notice objects by contrasting with the darker color of the soil and to pick the objects little buried in the ground despite the terrible weather. I was in the Wednesday lab team 2 and I did nearly edge of the field we targeted to conduct the survey. In the first unit, I was not sure what to look for because only I could see were just soil, weeds, and random stones. I saw a variety of stones, some were colored red, and some were yellow. I tried to think whether the stones were painted by a human or not by seeing the cross-sectional surface. However, I ended up not doing it because it’s the same thing as defacing objects and also I concluded they are natural because of the number. But still I am not sure and I realized the importance of interdisciplinary knowledge in the survey. Continuing to walk for a while, my eyes gradually got used to the ground and finally, I recognized a lighter color in the ground. It was a fragment of a ceramic which had flowers(potentially Japanese apricot?) with blue lines on it and it reminded me of oriental pattern with a single blue color on a white background. Second, I found a (neatly) crushed can in the middle of the unit. It seemed it has been a while since it had been thrown there according to its texture, but I thought someone came there for some reason and threw it away. Third, I found a tiny fragment of glasses(potentially?). Finally, I found a wood which had an unnatural whole as depicted below. The reason why it cathed my eyes despite a lot of other woods left on the ground was the whole was made when the tree grew but not be hollowed out. It might be accidental but if it is a man-made whole, some questions would come to my mind: why did they made a whole and made it like that? The further I walked, the more I wanted to know how people had been going about their daily life.

In the second unit, I found lesser objects than in the first unit. First, I found another fragment of a ceramic which was off-white colored. I thought there should be another part of the ceramic. Second, I found a screwed papery plastic which might be used as a container.


Week 4 April 24, 2019

On Wednesday(April 24), our lab team head to the Waterford Mill. Our goal was to prepare the site for the survey and excavation. There were several kinds of activities to get it done. Site clearance, feature mapping, area mapping, and griding the units. We divided our team into these four groups and each group had about four people. I went up for feature mapping because I thought I can make use of my drawing skills. Feature mapping was to literary find features on the site which basically we are not able to pick up to collect. On the mapping sheet, we wrote down a variety of information such as units name, feature’s orientation, number of pictures and the time they were taken, what it is, material type, and illustration. We created two groups within our feature mapping group and we divided the site with the center line dividing the mill wall. I worked on with Lena and we assigned taking notes of fundamental information to Lena and assigned drawing features to me. Throughout the work, we discussed what it was for and the features of the objects themselves to write down.

First, we decided the borderline to see the features of the site. When we walked up to the pathway leading from the railroad to the mill, we found a fence along the pathway and concluded it is the least border of this site. The fence has consisted of four oxygenized metallic steaks and spiky wires linking them. Given this fence, we also concluded that the pathway is kind manmade, not animals, and we moved on to observing the pathway. When I was drawing the features, I tried to draw them realistically. However, when Alex came to check our work, he told me that we have to prioritize making the position relation clear for example, by drawing the bird-eye illustration. Since then, I tried to draw like that. We moved on to the inside of the mill wall. We found a metal pipe protruded from the wall inside the mill. I tried to see where the pipe is leading to but I was not able to see it. In my hypothesis, the pipe was made to pomp out the wasted water. We also took the mill wall as one of the features of the site. A lot of relatively thin stone are neatly piled up and I did not see any aperture although I saw some indents. In addition, the lower it gets, the thicker and higher sones were used and I thought that the mill was built with a precise constructional technique. Finally, we took a lot of objects left inside of the mill wall. We found several masses of concrete each of them had a square-shaped hole. Near the object, I could see a fragment of a wooden device with a metallic part. I was not sure what they were for but what made them more mysterious was some masses of the same concrete with a stone embedded in each of them. I thought that documentary resources either of the site or other mills would help to determine what they are. We also found some concrete blocks with three rectangular-shaped holes and surprisingly, screwed concretes were in each hole. Moreover, wires are piled up throughout inside of the wall and folded thin metallic clothes were left there. Through observing the site carefully, I realized that there was actually a variety of objects left in there which I did not recognize when I first came there and I think this is partly thanks to the clearance of the site. It made our work especially walking around the site to observe features much easier and more efficiently. 

After the lab, I uploaded all the pictures I took for feature mapping with naming each of them the objects’ names.


Week 5 May 1, 2019

On Wednesday(May 1), our lab team head to the Waterford Mill as last week. We continued mapping and survey, while we finally began excavation. I did a survey with a three-people team, me, Sam, and Loren. Sam was in charge of note taking and Loren and I were observing and looking for objects to collect and record on the Survey Unit Form. We did H10 first and did H12 and H13, heading to North. With Alex’s advice, we spent 10 minutes surveying the unit and then count each object we found and wrote down where they were and how many they were. In H10, we found a lot of fragments of glasses scattering throughout the unit. Most of them seemed the same kind of glass which were semi-transparent and flat, but some were thicker and curved. Although we noticed such details of objects, I realized that the Survey Unit Form required only information what it can be classified as and where it was. I assumed that it is because, in the survey, our main goal is to grab a broad historical and environmental relationship among each unit, not analyze each object in detail what we do after the survey. When we moved to the next unit, I realized that another survey team was about to start a survey in a unit which was already done, according to a picture of mapping of the site I took before the survey just in case. I told them that and they moved to the correct unit. I noticed that they already had several findings of the wrong unit in the plastic bag and I thought that it is necessary to do survey really carefully. In H12, we found interesting objects in terms of their use. For example, we found a metal-packaged tube and a chunk of wood with a metal chain attached. I thought it was a part of the construction itself and with documentary records, we would be able to understand the site more clearly. The H12 unit included the side beyond the wall. It was relatively hard to get there because of a bush. Also, we barely found artifacts and we only found some plastic paper which seemed had been thrown away there recently. However, it was a typical example of how the surrounding environments have an influence on each part of a site. When we did H13 unit, I found a tiny seashell and it was the only finding I found in the unit. I found tiny seashells in almost every unit and it made me wonder. My hypothesis was that the soils were carried from somewhere else where seashells were occurring.

Given the objects we found and the spots where they were, I found our survey contemporary archaeology. The closer to the river(inside of the wall) the spot is, the more objects which were created at that time the building was used we found. Also, the outer we survey, the more recently appeared objects we found. It shows that the role of the site has changed throughout time and also shows that objects we can see vary depending on where the spot is in the site.


Week 6 May 8, 2019

On Wednesday(May 8), our lab team intended to down to Waterford Mill site to conduct the second excavation, but due to the heavy rain, we ended up doing preparation for artifact analysis. We split people according to survey units. Our task was to clean up the artifacts we collected in the survey and excavation so far by washing or brushing and check the number of each type of material with the survey unit form. We were allowed to wash ceramics, lithics, and plastics, but metals because it could deteriorate them. After finishing either brushing or washing, we put all the artifacts on each plastic bag we used for collecting artifacts during the survey not to mix up the survey unit where each artifact was.

When it comes to analysis and interpretation of the artifacts we found and collected, I thought we need to direct our eyes not only toward those artifacts but also toward other datasets as we discussed during class on Tuesday. Since the Mill is a relatively recent historical site, we are able to collect oral histories from people who have ancestors who had lived there or had been involved in the mill. Although there would be an issue of authority since we collect oral histories from people who are not a professional, by making use of them in a proper way, histories coming from people who were actually involved in the site would be a great resource that we are not able to get only from the artifacts we collect from the site. Moreover, by combining oral histories into the research, we are able to get personal insights which audiences are more likely On the other hand, we can also do documentary research by assessing the historical resources of the site. With photos, we are able to comprehend what a particular fragment of the construction was used for. Depending on theoretical frameworks to apply, even research questions can vary. For the mill site, from a perspective of Marxist theory, which I did assignment for notebook homework, we should focus on documentary resources as well as artifacts to assess the relationship between contemporary production climate and the economic hierarchies. The research question, for example, would be “how did economic condition around the mill site have an effect on the mill’s historical achievement?” For the latter, we are able to collect information through oral histories. As explained above, I learned that archeology involves a variety of perspectives/theories and research resources.


Week 7 May 15, 2019

On Wednesday(May 8), our lab team downed to the Waterford Mill site. It was the second excavation day for us because we couldn’t make it last week due to the weather. We had several tasks as usual: excavation, GIS mapping, locating another site, and drone shooting. I was assigned to the excavation group since I haven’t experienced excavation before. I was in charge of sketching the trench before the excavation to record what the trench looked like. The trench was in upper level than the main mill. At first sight, I recognized a lot of stones and several metal wires, springs, and fragments. I drew all the objects I saw while I was standing. However, once I got seated and started taking part in the excavation, I noticed that there were a lot more objects which I hadn’t noticed only without looking at closely. In the course of the excavation, we found a variety of artifacts while removing a lot of stones. Tons of tiny metallic fragments, metal springs and wires, glasses which seemed they came from the same artifact, potentially a bin, ceramics which had different kinds of marks on each, and leathers which had metal rounded belt hole. We shoveled the soil, removed rocks and stones, and put the soil including artifacts into a bucket to strain to extract artifacts. In mid-course, Alex came to our trench gave us advice; we can stand in the trench and shaving the surround of the trench first to see what the layers look like and not to miss artifacts at the edge. Indeed, I found some artifacts from the edge which I almost missed.

As we learned object biography, which is about the relationship between the object and the people rather than about the object itself, we are able to think of and interpret the past with the artifacts we found. For example, with the leather belt, we can presume who used it and one’s economic and social status at that time. Based on these facts, we are able to infer the mill’s economic situation. Also, from the perspective of the landscape, especially multi-temporality, although the methods require us to dig the deeper level beyond the moment of the mill, we are able to examine the significance of the space having been changed over time which the other academic disciplines don’t focus on. In terms of at least the moment/level of the mill, I think the leather belt explicit that human activities were actually happening at the mill. Comparing the trench 1 and 2, which are respectively inside and outside of the mill construction, we can think of the architectural landscape which creates lines between inside and outside of the mill and it reveals cultural and economic stream and the relationship between the mill and the outside.


Week 8 May 22, 2019

On Wednesday(May 22), our lab team downed to the Waterford Mill site. It was the last fieldwork day. We continue to do the excavation of trench 1 and 2, mapping, running all the excavation and feature forms we collected so far with the site to check if there are any missing features or not, and resketching the whole site. I was in charge of the last one, redrawing the whole mill site. Paired with Hank, he was in charge of taking pictures of the site and we both were taking the concrete measure of the length and width of the site. For after use, for example putting on the course website, I had to draw as neatly as possible. First, it was really hard because the subject was relatively huge. However, measuring each length, I gradually got the hang and finally managed to finish the drawing. In the course of drawing, I realized that the construction of the mill site is classified into mainly two materials: brick wall and concrete wall. I also found some metal fragments inside the mill. Given these elements of different materials, I differentiated these elements by coloring and slashing. Also, to make it clear that which of different patterns are expressing what, I made a small chart on top of the sheet.

From the perspective of Cultural Resource Management, I think Waterford Mill site is a good resource in terms of public archaeology. When it comes to CRM, it requires us to take account of a variety of aspects of the site, such as economic, environmental, and educational aspects, etc. In terms of the educational aspect, as we did fieldwork in the site, the site can be directly used as a source of educational activities. Indirectly, we are able to reach the community to make the archaeological interpretation we concluded from the site as well as the information of the site itself accessible. In terms of the economic aspect, it can be taken as a tourism site. Ironically, as sometimes mass-tourism or not well-organized tourism system can destroy the site, however, we need to be careful about the activities of non-archaeologists. Also, we need to take account of the stakeholders. We have to make it clear what kind of effect they would have through such use of the site. From the perspective of curation, there are many ways to apply the artifacts. For example, we can think of virtual restoration of the site. In the case that tourism at the mill site is not a plausible idea, creating 3D computer graphic of the current state and the original state of the site would be a great alternative idea. It will not destroy the site and moreover, the digital exhibition is more accessible to a much broader audience.


Week 9 May 29, 2019

On Wednesday(May 29), our lab team did the artifact analysis which we collected in the fieldwork in lab hours so far. I was working with Emily and Lena. When I checked the spreadsheet to check how much stuff was already done by the Tuesday lab team and it seemed that all the contexts of both Trench 1 and Trench 2 were got done by them. So we decided to begin with the gridded survey. My team selected F12 to analyze. I was in charge of taking notes each section to fill out in the spreadsheet. The concept of Lot and Quantity was confusing, but I ultimately understood that Lot counts the number of artifacts in the survey unit and Quantity counts the number of fragments of each artifact in the survey unit. In F12, there were two beer cans which had designs remained on. We started the search start date and end date. Unfortunately, we were not able to find the expiration date of two, and we moved on to analyze the design on them. I was doing Bud Light beer can and the design included only blue and yellow. I could not find any former designs which contain blue and yellow, but blue and red. However, I realized one of the former designs, the 1998 version, was similar although the colors were different. On my hypothesis, the red color faded into the yellow color as I could saw on the can in about two decades.

In the course of the analysis, I realized that the task I was working on was one of the important processes of Cultural Resources Management. We “utilized” the mill site for learning archaeological methods including survey, excavation, and mapping and so on, and with the artifacts we collected from the site, we washed and cleaned them up and we are analyzing for further future research. Some people use them as material for educational use for their final project. These are merely part of the possible use of the resource. When we decide the use of the resource, we have to take stakeholders, environmental impact, and other factors can affect on the site in account.

Week 10 June 5, 2019

On Wednesday(June 5), our lab team continued to do the artifact analysis in hour final lab period. First, we checked which bags were done and which were not. It seemed that most bags were accounted in the spreadsheet by the last lab team, so we decided to check the number of the bags with the spreadsheet and enter the information of the number of bags, collection type and unit, materials, and initials of a person collected into the meta data. The first bag I selected was accidentally not yet entered in the spreadsheet even though it was in the box labeled as “completed bags.” Also, after I moved to entering information in the meta data, I found some rows which have not been checked yet but just been made before. It was confusing and first I did not realize that some rows I made were overlapped with the ones already made. Through this lab, I felt the difficulty of working with another group alternatively without any connection.