Wendy Erickson

April 9, 2019

Prior to this lab period we started off by visiting the Carleton archives and meeting with Nat Wilson, the Digital archivist at Carleton.Here we learned about archives and research techniques and looked through some of the materials from the Northfield Women’s League Cabin. I was especially interested in a document that listed the rules of use for the cabin and the women visiting. It included insights into the necessary cleaning for each visit and the strict prohibition of any male visitors.

During the lab period itself we went to the Rice County Historical Society in Faribault and met with the executive director, Susan Garwood. Her presentation included interesting elements about the history of Faribault and the local environmental history and geology. It was especially clear that the rivers and lakes in the area played an important role in shaping how the area was first inhabited and how future groups interacted with the area. I was interested to hear the various ways that collections of information make their way to the Historical Society through wills, gifts, and amateur archeologists. At both the Society and the Carleton archives, processing and storing information seems to be a very serious consideration.

After some individual time viewing the collection’s exhibits we were shown some interesting examples of historical maps of the area. They highlighted the lasting influence of the early surveyor’s division of land into neat sections for sale to settlers.

April 16, 2019

For this lab we gained some valuable experience in conducting pedestrian surveys. After a brief introduction to some of the tools we were going to use we traveled to our chosen location for field work but were diverted by scheduled burn activity. We settled on the other site for the field work of the day which started with a brief introduction to survey methods. This included figuring out our pace equivalent to 5 and 10 meters (for me this was 6 and 12 steps respectively) and using phone compasses to track direction and distance from other participants.

I worked with the second group which was assigned the woodier section for examination. Marking distance amongst the trees and brush proved difficult so I helped in utilizing a tape measure to spread out the group members at 5-meter intervals. My track of the section was the second inward from the road and it proved to contain some very interesting, and extensive, material remains. These included hundreds of examples of cans, glass, and ceramics as well as some more unique items such as (possibly) a paint tube, a section of tile, a plug, and a beaker stopper with tubes. I bagged and labeled these items for the group collection where they made up a sizable portion of the overall finds.

April 23, 2019

This lab period was the Tuesday lab group’s first time on the Waterford Mill site. As a group we traveled to the location with the required materials. The site is located across a road, over some train tracks and through a small section of woods from the parking location. The group was divided into several sections: forest and ground clearance, grid mapping, and site feature recording. I worked on a team with Judi as part of the site feature crew and we were assigned to the upstream section for inspection. Another group worked on the main visible section of the mill remains which included a large enclosed rectangular stone foundation and other visible walls from the original structure . The final group worked on the downstream section.

Our section of the site on first examination did not appear to contain many features of note. At a distance of about 30 meters from the main section of the site we discovered a fire pit along a thin section of sand next to the river. This site included about 20 stones arranged in a circle, ash evidence of recent use, and a number of surrounding articles of note such as sunglasses, brown bottle, and several metal frames. I completed a feature form for this site while Judi found and recorded a number of smaller articles of not in the vicinity such as cement, pottery and brick fragments. Finally, we collaborated with another group member who was in charge of the differential GPS mapping in order to record exact locations of several points on the fire pit and one other material remain in the area. Maneuvering between the branches with the tool to avoid damaging it proved to be somewhat difficult. We also took measurements of the main feature with a tape measure and recorded all information on the site feature form.

April 30, 2019

Tuesday this week was again at the Waterford Mill but with the added difficulty of rainy conditions during the period. We were again divided into groups: starting test pits, surface surveying, and other tasks such as GPS mapping. I joined a crew with Mathew, and Aubrey which surveyed two of the grid squares for material remains. The Wednesday lab group had already started the process.

We surveyed two adjacent sections, each a five meter square, for ten minutes each. In both locations we looked for any visible items of interest. My role included recording the type and location of the items found, sketching out the general layout of objects within the grid, taking pictures for documentation, and generally completing any information needed for the survey form. This first section contained some large metal items such as a flattened can and a large mass of wire mesh. It also had many small glass fragments, a section of cloth-like material, and a paper cup. The second section also contained metal and glass fragments, as well as brick and a cement block. The notable finds here were several well preserved glass bottles with writing.

After the recording process and taking pictures both of the general site and of some of the individual objects, I started the bagging process. Although the rain made it difficult, each relevant item was either placed individually in a bag or grouped with similar items and then labeled. I am interested to see what these items will be able to tell us about activities at the mill. Although many will likely reflect recent activity, it will be an interesting look into how the site has evolved.

[A collection of objects from one of the units, several interesting finds]

May 7, 2019

Today we continued from pervious lab periods such as DGPS mapping and test pits. I was part of a group of 4 that worked on a 1 by 1 meter pit that had been started previously. It was located on downriver of the main site and next to a trash pit which based on class discussion seems like a likely place for interesting finds. The previous group had cleared the surface and had done a few inches of digging.

Our group continued the process of troweling to remove sections of dirt, natural remains, and items of interest after Aubrey documented the condition of the pit with photos. We used dust pans to collect the material off shallow sections of the pit and place in a bucket for further examination. We removed objects of interest and attempted to even out the ground level. Unlike our readings on excavation, we were unable to easily identify differences in dirt composition to establish clear time distinctions but perhaps further excavation will uncover differences.

I participated in sifting through the first bucket of material remains. We brought the sifting device outside the boundaries of the site and shook the dirt through to capture any larger items. Aubrey and I removed considerable amounts of metal scraps including some interesting bolts, possible can remains, and curly wire. Other common items were white ceramics and shells. Possibly our most significant find from this section of dirt was a ceramic fragment with wording on it.

Other discoveries from the pit were several  large metal sections and a medium sized glass bottle which we did not fully remove. At the end of the lab period we cleaned up with a brush and took another set of photos to document progress. I helped finish up the form for the pit site before we returned to campus.

May 14, 2019

During this period I continued on the same trench pit as last time. I was in charge of filling out the excavation form and taking photos to document digging progress. As part of this I drew the trench features on the form and documented some of the major finds. Several of the interesting ones were the jar, large metal scraps, colored tiles, a bottle cap, and more metal screws and nails. I participated in digging some of the trench when I was not documenting. The dirt this time around was considerably more moist which made the troweling process more difficult. We were again unable, despite removing many of the large rocks on the surface level, to find another context level. Judi also gathered some interesting surface finds from the surrounding area for collection.

I am interested to see what type of information we will be able to gain from the materials we are collecting. Although we have been categorizing finds according to material, the object histories of many prices will be hard to discern given their state of decay and lack of completeness. Labels and any type of design and wording will likely be very important.

[Photos from the beginning, middle, and end of digging]

May 21, 2019

During this lab period we worked on cleanup and organization of the artifacts from the Waterford site and our surveys. Several boxes were in the classroom for examination although some work had been done by the other lab period. We worked on removing dirt and grime from the collected artifacts by using water and scrubbing with brushes over collection trays.

A partner and I worked on several bags of metal fragments which we brushed, re-bagged and then handed off to others for organization and documentation. I also worked on an interesting bag of tile fragments from trench 1 context 3 (the trench I excavated in the last two lab periods). Within the bag were many white tile chips, some of which were rim fragments, and several more tiles with decorative patterns in blue, red and green. Another interesting find was a small black button with a very intricate pattern. It will be interesting next lab period to see if we can find the source of these designs.

The readings for this week had a lot to say about curation and preservation of artifacts which could be applied to our items. A lot of the pieces we were dealing with were “bulk finds” with no particular distinguishing characteristics. Although many of our items are of durable materials, providing for the continued storage and proper management of the artifacts from our site will be a long term issue.

May 28, 2019

This lab period I worked with some of my group project members to do an interview with Ray Ozmun for the final project. Although I was not originally scheduled to participate, my car was needed for transportation in the absence of one of our group members. We got special permission to do this instead of artifact analysis which was the work of the rest of the class.

Although I was not the main interviewer, talking with Ray was informative. Ray is a long-time Waterford community member and he was able to tell us a lot about the more recent uses of the mill site, mostly as a place of recreation. He would gather pieces of metal for recycling and play on the swinging bridge with other kids. I thought an interesting part of the interview was when Ray talked about the economic legacy of the mill. In the absence of a significant milling industry, Waterford has struggled to find an economic center. Farm practices have have also shifted from wheat to other crops to reflect the change in milling practices.

As we have discussed in class, it is important to connect archeological information with local history and community knowledge. I hope that the our video will be a valuable and accessible addition to the work of the project.

June 4, 2019

During the last lab period I worked with Aubrey to complete the remainder of the artifact analysis in the google sheet. There is definitely some confusion among the class about labeling practices both on the finds themselves and in the recording process. Probably this is a common symptom of group archaeological work with non-professionals.

We then transitioned to working on taking pictures of interesting artifacts. We used rulers or other objects within the picture in order to show the scale of the finds. Through this process I was able to observe many finds from the site and surveys that I hadn’t seen before. It was interesting to see how the artifacts recovered were similar or different between the two trenches and the surveys. Pottery patterns were especially easy to compare and some pieces recovered seemed like they might even be from the same source. In this process too we discovered cases where the record was inconsistent for bag recording. Given all of the confusion I suspect that a more thorough demonstration of labeling practices was needed.

ceramic-shards-1