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.

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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.