MJ Fielder-Jellsey


This week, we were back in LDC 104 finishing up the artifact analysis work. Our main goal was to make sure that everything was catalogued in both the artifact notes sheet and the metadata sheet. Holland and I were working together, and we started working on the bags from survey unit W1-01 when we realized that there were several uncatalogued or miscatalogued bags from W1-01. We started by collecting all the W1-01 bags we could find and went through, recataloguing them and ensuring all their information was correct. It seemed to be that every time we thought we had finished, another bag was discovered and we would have to renumber that material. However, once we actually finished, it was somewhat satisfying to know we had finally catalogued all the bags. I again found it to be tedious work, but I also know it’s incredibly important to keep a detailed record of the artifacts found and the way they are labeled.


This week, we were in LDC 104 working on artifact analysis. We were working with all the artifacts we have collected through excavation, field survey, gridded survey, and surface collection. Sam and I worked together to catalog the gridded survey artifacts from survey unit G11. Most of the finds were metal, but there were also some interesting ceramic finds from this collection. We sat down and pulled out each artifact, cataloging them by collection type, collection unit, lot, material, quantity, description, typology, start date, end date, chronology notes, use/function, interpretation, resources/references, and catalog number. I found it to be tedious work, but I also understand that it is crucial to the archaeological record for artifacts to be properly recorded and cataloged.


This week, the weather was good enough to be at the mill site again, so we piled into our vans and journeyed out there to finish our work, as today was our last day in the field. We continued excavations, mapping, and documentation at the site. Holland, Aaron, and I returned to Features 5 and 7 to finish documentation, take new pictures, and do some spot collection, as well as picking up garbage around the features. We collected some pieces of metal, glass, and ceramic from the site, as well as a river mussel shell. We made some new sketches and made sure both features had points mapped. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Feature 7, the 39 meter wall, extends any further than our initial measurements, or if it does, we would have to dig for it, which isn’t an option for our project. While I was a little sad to leave Waterford Mill, as it was our last field day, I enjoyed our time out there and can’t wait to analyze the artifacts we brought back.


This week, we had beautiful weather, so we continued our excavations and mapping. We even had a pair of guests at Waterford Mill helping a couple of students with a drone, taking aerial photos of the site. I was working on site mapping with Holland, studying a new feature found by Tuesday’s group.  As we looked at one of the new walls mapped by the other group, we realized that the wall extended past where the other group mapped. Once we had measured that wall, we noticed that there was another new, un-mapped wall running perpendicular to the wall we had just mapped. This new wall ran for about 39 meters, longer than the other walls at the new feature. These walls must be part of another building. It was incredibly exciting to find this wall, and it proves that the mill complex is larger than I had originally thought.


This week, it poured rain on Wednesday, so we decided it would be too difficult and messy to attempt to excavate in the mud and rain.  Instead, we found ourselves inside cleaning up our finds from previous excavations.  We washed pottery and glass with water and old toothbrushes, but metal scraps cannot be washed, so we just scrubbed those with the toothbrushes until they were as clean as they could possibly get.  There were some other materials too, such as old beer cans, that could be washed and scrubbed with the toothbrushes as well.  I found it to be fun and satisfying work, as you watch the materials become clean and be re-bagged for organization.  It was a part of the archaeological process that I had not really considered before, and when I did learn about it, I did not think I would enjoy it.


This week I was finally in the Wednesday lab group.  This week’s lab was about the continuation of the survey, mapping, field collection, and grid of Waterford Mill, as well as the beginning of excavations at the site.  I was involved with the excavations.  The Tuesday lab group set up two excavation trenches, each one meter by one meter, on trench next to the lower wall and the other located in a trash dump.  Those of us working on excavation decided to continue excavating in those trenches rather than beginning new trenches because we would be able to accomplish more in continuing excavation rather than starting fresh. We learned a lot about the process of excavation.  Starting with trowels, we scraped away the dirt a little at a time, digging down at an even level and digging around objects like large rocks until we were sure they were just rocks.  We learned about digging “like with like” and also learned about contexts, or the different stratigraphic layers that can be used to define time periods within the soil.  My group, digging at the trash dump, found a lot of rusted metal chunks, pieces of ceramics, and chunks of broken glass.


This week I was again in the Tuesday lab group due to softball.  This week’s lab was all about how to begin working at a site.  It involved site clearing/cleaning, setting up the grid to create survey units, and feature mapping.  We split up into three groups to get everything accomplished, and I was in the group involving the grid.  My job, along with three other students, was to create the grid that would later provide our basis for survey units.  We had two tape measures, stakes and flagging tape, and a compass.  We had to first establish an x-axis and a y-axis.  We established the x-axis along an existing wall with a bearing of 70°, and then went 20 meters along the x-axis, marking every 5 meters with a stake and tape.  The y-axis was perpendicular to the x-axis and had a bearing of 340°, and went for 15 meters, just past another existing wall, and again we marked every 5 meters with tape.  While we did not have time to complete the entire grid, I really enjoyed the work and look forward to returning to Waterford Mill.


This week, I was a part of the Tuesday lab group due to softball.  This week’s lab was all about the process of field-walking.  We started out in the classroom, learning about the equipment necessary, like compasses, notebooks, and flagging tape.  When we reached the first site we planned on field-walking, we learned that they were controlled-burning there, so we left to find a new location.  After loading back into the vans and driving farther out.  After hiking through some mud and walking for a little while, we decided on a place that provided too different types of field-walking experiences: one was a flat area covered with little trees and thorny plants, and the other was a densely wooded area.  I was in the group surveying the flat area.  The first thing we did was measure how many steps it would take us to cover five meters, then we nominated our anchors with the flagging tape, Aaron and Zobeida.  I measured out five meters from Aaron, Tanya measured out five meters from me, and we continued this method until we were all lined up parallel to each other.  Then, we began walking. We walked through three survey units, and unfortunately found nothing but thorns, a snake, and some animal poop, which does not count as material culture.  While the other group only walked through one survey unit, they found a surplus of material culture from an old farm dump.


Unfortunately, I was unable to attend either lab section this week, but my lab group spent time in the archives, due to inclement weather that prevented them from driving to the Rice County Historical Society in Faribault.