2023 Weekly Field and Lab Summaries

This page collects the weekly blog posts written by students over the course of fieldwork during the Fall 2023 field season. These blog posts detail each of our weekly labs, including student summaries, reflections, photographs, data, and interpretations.

Posts appear in descending chronological order, with the most recent post appearing at the top of the page.

Fall 2023 Field Season

Week 10 – Community Archaeology Day

Created by: Charlie Solomon and Lexi Wallace

The 2023 Community Archaeology Day is one for the history books — or perhaps the long-term archaeological record! 

As an ACE Course, our ultimate goal is to make archaeology tangible to our community. This is important because sometimes archaeology can seem superfluous, but in actuality, it is key to helping us understand our identities and backgrounds. By investigating the material remains left behind by humankind, we can get a closer look into what their everyday life was like. We could even compare what our lives are like today with how others’ lives were like in, say, the late 1800s to early 1900s! In doing so, we may find ways to solve the problems that plague us today, like climate change or the quest for meaning in our lives. Understanding ourselves is the number one reason why archaeology is relevant today, especially for people who may be underrepresented in the historical record. However, archaeological findings are useless if they’re not presented in an accessible way to laypeople. That’s where our Community Archaeology Day comes into play.

Community members engage with Archaeology 246 students at Community Archaeology Day. We had over 100 visitors!

From 3D-printed models of the modern Seccombe House to a documentary about the Seccombe family and everything in-between, ARCN 246 brought to life not only the oldest building on campus but also the inner archaeologist of everyone in the community who attended. We attempted to engage and connect with community members by trying to make our research interactive and approachable–creating a guessing game out of the Seccombe house’s timeline and inviting visitors to test the metal composition of their jewelry. Attendees were able to see examples of the sort of artifacts we collected from our excavation along with the sort of tools we used to do said collecting–allowing everyone to better understand and visualize how real-life archaeology in action looks. Those curious about the excavation site itself were invited to stop by our dig on the chapel lawn, where they could see our uncovered foundation walls.

Archaeology 246 students Sasha Monk ‘26 and Lexi Wallace ‘26 dressed up as Carleton students from the late 1890s to help visitors get a sense of women’s fashion was like at Carleton during that period

The most fruitful parts of Community Archaeology Day were definitely the conversations we had with various community members. With visitors coming from all over Northfield and the Twin Cities, we tapped into their knowledge to help us answer our research questions. For example, why did we find coal in only Excavation Pit 2? A community member answered that they had found a lot of coal in a pile under their house during construction! There apparently was a chute where coal was delivered from the outside. We could be finding the coal that didn’t quite get used up before Seccombe House was moved. Attendees also were invited to speculate as to what they thought our ceramic tile came from, with theories ranging from part of a large pot to some component of a chimney.

Attendees were presented with a selection of samples of what was excavated from the Seccombe House dig site, and invited to guess about what the items were and why they were found within the site.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and saw the culmination of our efforts!

Week 9 – Curation of Artifacts and Data Analysis

Created by: Talia Loevy-Reyes and Bella Crum


This week we focused on artifact curation and analysis. After washing and categorizing all of our finds last week, we began the process of interpretation! Interpretation requires us to look at the context to try and first date the objects, and then hypothesize how they might have been used. In order to start interpretation, all of our objects had to be well organized and listed in a shareable table, for which we used google sheets. Once all of them had been listed and arranged, we could begin the process of making hypotheses about their make and use. Then we started to gear up for Community Archaeology Day, which is taking place next Tuesday from 2-5 in the Anderson Hall Atrium!

Tuesday and Wednesday Lab


In the first half of the lab, we measured and recorded data for the artifacts that we found. This involved taking the weight, length, and width measurements of an object individually before we began to analyze them, using a scale, a ruler, and an electronic caliper. Archeological science uses the metric system, so goodbye inches and hello centimeters! We then noted these measurements on a spreadsheet—including details of where they were found. Context and organized notes are vital to the archaeological process not just for collaboration and record keeping, but so that future archeologists can investigate and reproduce our work too. We rely on the context clues for our analysis, which involved which of our two excavation units they were found it, and the level (depth) of the discovery. 

Using the electronic caliper to measure the dimensions of rocks and coal pieces. It is more precise than a ruler and just the human eye.

Some notes on our brick findings. There were a LOT of individual pieces to catalog.

After taking these measurements, we began to examine each artifact to try and date it, and thus learn more about the history of Seccombe House. Nails can be dated by the gauge size and the shape of the body. Glass can be dated by color. Dating artifacts is not an exact science, because none of our finds had any kind of year markings on them. We can pretty strongly infer its period down to a few years though.

This handout illustrates how to measure nail gauges.

Students examine a piece of glass.

Findings and analysis:

  • Glass:

The color of glass corresponds to different types of dyes which were used at different periods. Most of the glass was from windows and thus primarily clear—thus we were unable to date it. But the remaining glass, which came from shards of broken glass, were easily dateable.

  • Nails:

We used similar methods to date the many nails that we found. Nails from different eras each have a different shape. The ones post-1900 are like the nails that we’re familiar with. However, the nails from 1820-1900 were more rectangular, with a rectangular gauge (the head of the nail), and a rectangular body. The nails from 1790-1820 were flatter. We think that Seccombe House might have been built using some older nails—or that the nails were dumped in the pit as trash. Similarly, the nails from post-1900 were likely discarded in the foundations during the chapel’s construction.

Some of the rectangular, 1820-1900 Type B cut nails.

  • Brick:

After sorting the bricks by material, we found that a vast majority of them were porous limestone bricks, followed by red clay bricks similar to the ones featured in many campus buildings. Lastly, we found a type of mud brick vaguely resembling an adobe. Archaeology is a field of study with many mysteries—currently, we’re still trying to identify it. Some things that we looked at for analysis were seeing if there was a maker’s mark so we can date it, seeing if there are traces of mortar, or seeing if there are any perforations.

  • Ceramics:

We were excited to analyze one of the big mysteries of our dig: ceramics. We measured the pieces of ceramics we collected and recorded any decoration or glaze pattern. Though we found one piece of porcelain, a majority of the clay was earthenware. We think that these pieces of ceramics were primarily pieces of shingles. If you want to see these ceramics, and perhaps offer your interpretation of what it was used for, come to community archaeology day! Samples of all of the aforementioned objects are on display. 

  • Coal:

There were many pieces of coal uncovered from excavation unit two with a range of sizes from a centimeter or two to about 12 centimeters in length. Through matching color and texture to different coal types in online research, we were able to determine with relative certainty that this is unburned anthracite coal from the brown streak coloring, metallic shine, and lack of impurities. It also makes sense as this type of coal is found nearby in Canada.

Coal! To be passed out to naughty students and visitors during Community Archeology Day.

This bar graph shows the count of coal from one of our many artifact bags. We grouped coal types by smooth and black, black with brown streaks, black, and dark gray,

  • Plastic:

We unearthed several thumb sized pieces of plastic. At least one was likely packaging for food, as it had text on it that belonged to a nutrition label. These findings are important to garbology: the study of things we throw away. We speculate that people in Northfield may have thrown garbage into the hole that was left when Seccombe house was moved off of its foundations. Or, this may have been garbage left in the house basement or cellar. Among the plastic we also found a zip tie, a piece with painted plastic on one side and aluminum foil on the other (like a yogurt lid) and clear pieces of plastic packaging.

As seen by the y-axis, the plastic pieces were small and broken remains of larger objects.

This pie chart gives a good idea of the variety of material types that were not nails, glass, brick, or ceramic. We found so many ground rocks that likely had nothing to do with human activity that they were discarded. 

Discussion and Conclusion:

As much as we loved to wear the Indian Jones hat and go out adventuring and digging, this week’s labs taught us that archeology also involves a lot of organizing and cataloging. Our work with google sheets was the primary method of recording out findings. Organizing each individual artifact in its own level and unit highlighted the importance of context for the objects. 

For instance, most of the nails were all found in the same area in the same excavation unit. Their level, or depth in the soil, was close to the surface, indicating that many were likely used in construction of Skinner Chapel and not from the Seccombe foundations. Similarly, the abundance of large pieces of coal were all dug up from unit two. It appeared to be unburned, leading us to wonder why it is buried there. We discussed that perhaps it was once stored in the house basement because it was found around where the cellar might have been. Perhaps it was otherwise unusable or forgotten. 

Bagging the artifacts for storage is one of the final stages in an archeological project. For one thing, it helped us organize our analysis, and make our findings reproducible for future researchers. Labeling the bagged artifacts kept track of context and grouping them by type made it all the more easy to do quantitative analysis, like making graphs of type counts. 

Community Archeology Day!

If you would love to see, hold, and maybe even lick some of the rocks we found during our excavations, come to our class’ community archeology day! Groups of around 5 students have each worked hard on a different project to highlight early campus life and Seccombe house, and construction. The event will be held in the Anderson Atrium from 2-5pm on Tuesday, November 14. Bring questions, curiosity, kids, and eat some candy!

Week 8 – Completing Excavation and Cleaning Artifacts

Created by: Seth Grauer, Sasha Monks, and Mia Strubel Iram


This week concluded excavations of the Seccombe House site as we gear up for community archaeology day and get ready to present our findings. On Tuesday, the focus of the lab was continuing to expose the foundations of Seccombe house and prepping them to be viewed by the public. Wednesday’s lab focused on cleaning all artifacts found throughout the excavation so that we can create a typology and continue with further analysis. Ultimately, this work is all being done so that we can present our findings in an easy-to-understand format and share them with the public.

Tuesday Lab

Excavation Methods

On Tuesday, the lab group continued their excavation of the two units. Once we removed the snow-covered tarps, the snowy and wet conditions meant that a thin layer of mud covered some sections of the units.

Snowy Tarp on Unit 2 pre-excavation
Photo Credit: Sasha Monks

We resumed excavation after laying out tarps for our knees, using a trowel to shovel to bucket system. Excavation began at a more rapid rate than previous excavations in these units. Because we had identified small sections of the foundation stones, we were able to move quickly through the brick and limestone rubble within the pit created by the foundation. Working on removing layers of rubble and dirt allowed us to uncover one large foundation stone in Unit 1 and three large foundation stones (including a cornerstone) in Unit 2. As we worked through the rubble, we developed a system of discarding rubble on the side of the fence and keeping artifacts in bags. The plastic bags were labeled by lab members according to unit, level, material, and date, specifically:


Many artifacts were uncovered directly from excavators, primarily coal, wood charcoal, nails, glass, and wire. After sending the removed dirt to screeners in a colored/white bucket system, the screeners were able to add more of these artifacts to our bags. Unlike previous excavation days, we did not track the depth to which we dug. Instead, we based our excavation levels on the foundation stones. The soil was mostly uniform, except for 2 “voids” created by human interference in the soil. These voids are characterized by less dense soil, most likely filled in after the original laying of the foundation stones. Due to cold conditions, we took lab breaks every hour (with brownies and cookies for fuel!) and ended the lab early. In the final hour we switched from trowels to brushes, removing loose dirt and making the foundation stones more visible. We also straightened the unit walls, and then re-covered the units with tarps.

At the end of our lab, this is what the units looked like: (Unit 2 on left, Unit 1 on right)

Completed Units: Unit 2 (left) Unit 1 (right)
Photo Credit: Sarah Kennedy

Wednesday Lab

On Wednesday’s lab we began by splitting into three groups:

  1. One group stayed inside to start cleaning artifacts
  2. Another went to the current Seccombe House
  3. The final group went to our excavation site

The two groups that went outside were focused on photogrammetry. The group going to the current Seccombe House used a drone in order to get all the proper angles for photogrammetry. The group that went to the two units of the current archaeological site had a few tasks. At the site they made sure to clean out the pits, take final level three measurements, sketch out the units, and finally take photos for photogrammetry. The process of taking photos for photogrammetry is very important and requires specific precision. We worked to make sure there were no unnecessary objects in the foreground and we did not zoom in. From there we started taking photos at every angle possible, getting photos from all sides of the unit, heights, and distances to ensure the best possible outcome.

Meanwhile, the group inside began cleaning and weighing all the artifacts we had found over the past three weeks of excavation. The process was fairly straightforward and required:

  • An artifact bag
  • A tub with warm water
  • Some form of brush for cleaning
  • Artifacts we cleaned included: limestone, brick, coal, nails and conglomerates

Each material required slightly different cleaning methods but they all had the same final procedure. After all the artifacts in the bag were completely cleaned out, we had to count and weigh the contents of the bag. The next step was to log the information and to try to confirm the type of material we had already been classifying our artifacts. In order to identify the material we used an pXRF (portable x-ray fluorescence) analysis. Although we did not begin to scan certain artifacts we did test out our jewelry.


After categorizing and sorting artifacts, in Wednesday’s lab, we created two graphs to show our findings. In the first graph, there is a large contrast in the number of artifacts found in the two units. Unit 2 overall had many more artifacts than Unit 1, especially in regards to coal and metal.

The second graph shows this as well, with a much higher total weight of artifacts found in Unit 2. One theory of why there was such a high amount, especially coal, is that Unit 2 contained the cornerstone of the foundation, and that more artifacts and rubble were dumped inside this corner foundation when they were filling in the foundation after moving the house. However, there could have also been errors in our tracking and categorizing of artifacts. At some point in the excavation, Unit 2 excavators decided to stop tracking coal pieces, because of the huge numbers. The same was true of rubble, much of which was left on the side of the site. We were also excavating at different rates, and the amount of dirt excavated in Unit 2 was also higher, most likely resulting in a higher amount of artifacts collected. We were surprised that we did not find any types of “dropped” artifacts, like an earring or something similar.

Findings & Discussion & Conclusion

Completed Excavation

Shown below are two photos of the completed excavation sites. Both sites feature part of the Seccombe house foundation, and a clear line can be drawn between sites where more of the foundation lies underground. Further, both excavation pipes exposed a PCV pipe, part of the current sprinkler system at Carleton college. This is not relevant to the findings of the Seccombe house.

Photo Credit: Sarah Kennedy

Sketch of Unit 1, End Level 3 Drawing Credit: Mia Strubel Iram

Comparing Projected Findings

After completing the excavations, both labs found an abundance of items. After sorting through a great deal of rubble, other artifacts found include:

  • Brick
  • Ceramic
  • Coal
  • Glass
  • Limestone
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Other (conglomerate)

Sasha finds a nail in Unit 2

Photo Credit: Seth Grauer


As referred to in the methods section from Wednesday’s lab, the process of taking photogrammetry is both luck and dedication. The more photos and angles taken the better chance your model will be accurate. This example reveals both the complexity of photogrammetry and the usefulness it will provide in understanding the current Seccombe House structure.

Week 7 – Cleaning Artifacts and Continuing Seccombe Excavation

Created by: Ellis Kondrashov, Sophie Lesser


This week was perhaps the worst week yet for archeology. We got a lot of rain, especially on Tuesday when was raining for most, if not all day. Unfortunately for the Tuesday lab group, rain is not at all conducive to doing excavation, since we didn’t want to turn our test units into glorified rectangular mud pits. Instead, Tuesday’s lab spent time cleaning and recording the artifacts collected from Week 5’s excavation of last year’s experimental archeology class site where we uncovered the burned cow bones and the sheep/goat bones.

Luckily for the adventurous members of the Wednesday lab who were itching to dig, it had dried out enough by Wednesday that we were able to continue digging.

Tuesday’s Lab


During Week 5, we had collected bones from both a shallower pit with sheep/goat remains from a previous experimental archaeology class, which we called Feature 1, and the pit with the burned cow bones, which we called Feature 2. Artifacts were collected in bags organized by feature. During this week’s lab, each team of two students worked on cleaning and recording the contents of one bag at a time. To clean the bones, we brushed the dirt off with toothbrushes, and picked off more stubborn dirt with toothpicks. Some of the more burned bone pieces were very delicate, so we had to be careful not to break them during the cleaning process. The bags also contained many very small fragments of bone. We individually cleaned all of the pieces larger than a dime, and then we ran the rest through a colander to try to separate out the dirt and ash. Next, we counted all the bones. We counted the total number of bone pieces larger than a dime, and we also counted the number of bones we could identify in each of three categories: cow femurs, cow oxtails, and sheep/goat bones. Femurs and oxtails were the two types of bones buried from the ritual (tail and thigh bones).

Caption: anatomical drawing of a cow skeleton showing femur and oxtails.

We only counted bones that were identifiably femurs or oxtails without knowing that is what had been buried, and since many of the pieces were just unidentifiable fragments, they were not counted in either category. We also calculated the weights of the total and of each category. We recorded all of this data in a spreadsheet.

Artifacts before (top) and after (bottom) being cleaned


After collecting data about all of the bones we cleaned, we were able to look at the distribution of the bones we had excavated. Overall, we excavated a total of 160 sheep/goat bones and 1064 burned cow bones, of which 56 were femur, 52 were oxtail, and the rest were unidentifiable. Even though the number of bones identified was similar between femur and oxtail, the femur bones accounted for much more of the total weight. 

We also had data about the numbers of burned bone pieces that were initially set aside to be buried last spring, so we can compare the initially buried bone pieces with everything we excavated from Feature 2.

The weight of all of the bones we excavated from Feature 2 was less than the weight of all the bones that were buried, indicating that we did not recover all of the remnants, but we did recover most. The total number of bone pieces we excavated was far more than the number of bone pieces recorded to be buried, indicating that a lot of the bones broke up into many pieces sometime in the process, or that more small fragments were buried than recorded.

The number of bone pieces that we were able to identify as femur was less than the number recorded to be buried, indicating that there were femur pieces that were either initially too small to be identifiable or that broke up into unidentifiable pieces. We recorded more oxtail pieces than were recorded to be buried, indicating that the vertebrae broke up into smaller pieces that still remained identifiable. We don’t have a record of the weight distribution of the different types of bones initially buried, so it’s hard to know how much the mass of bone for each type differed between burial and excavation.

Hopefully, these results, along with studying the excavated bones themselves, will be able to inform conclusions from excavation data of real Ancient Greek sacrifice rituals!

Wednesday Lab


Since these sites are the same as last week, much has remained the same! However, when we got to the test units on Wednesday, we noticed that the tarp over test unit one had turned into a small swimming pool holding roughly inches of water, which was concerning to say the least. Before we could start excavating, we had to carefully lift the tarp and dump the water out onto the grass a few dozen feet away to keep the site dry and stable.

Our Site Turned Into A Mini-Swimming Pool

After we dealt with the tarps, we were able to get going with our excavation again. We worked to maintain and improve the walls to ensure two things. First, that the walls wouldn’t collapse, and second, that we could see the change in soil type as we dug further down.


Throughout the day, we found a number of different artifacts, and features. The most notable being the large PVC pipe that runs directly through both of the test units, which we discovered was in active use upon talking to facilities.

In planning our site, we had asked them to mark out the sprinkler lines and other pipes which we would need to avoid in our process of excavation. They had then gone out and marked where all the lines were, using a magnet to find a small metal wire that they had buried with the pipes. However, they said that with this pipe they had likely forgotten to bury that wire, meaning that they couldn’t find it when they swept the site area.

This turned out to be a lesson in dealing with unexpected obstacles, since we then needed to talk to Carleton facilities to see whether we could continue with our work. Luckily for us, they told us we could just dig around and underneath the pipes as long as we don’t start hacking away at the pipe.

Very Inconvenient Pipe

In terms of discoveries which are useful to our work in exploring this history of Seccombe house, we found a few features, and a few artifacts.

In test unit one, we found a few pieces of stone, a couple of rusty nails, and a few more rocks. But generally, the day was quite uneventful. We dug down 20 more centimeters, and finally made it past the entirety of the topsoil, entirely stripping away this soil layer. In reaching the clay layer properly, we exposed how the topsoil changed as we moved down, including more clay and even having shafts of topsoil that were clearly left behind by roots which made their way down into the clay.

Soil Layers (Changing from Topsoil and Clay)

In contrast, test unit two found a quite large (roughly 50cm by 50cm, or 1.5 by 1.5 ft) square stone. It was about half a meter into the ground, sitting right next to the very inconveniently placed pipe. As of yet, we’re not entirely sure what it is. However, this is exactly where we were expecting to find the corner of the foundation, and this has led us to guess that this is probably the corner of the foundation for Seccombe house.

Potential Seccombe Cornerstone

This means a few things. First, that we probably found the house! Second, if we continue digging down, we’ll likely find more artifacts and features. In our original magnetic survey, we saw a significant mass in the basement, and hopefully we can find some of that material if we continue to excavate.

Week 6- Begin Seccombe House Excavation

Created by Jesse Cogan, Matilda Pro, and Lily Burrows


The purpose of this week’s lab was two fold. We began excavation at the Seccombe House site. Though the excavation is still multiple weeks away from completion, our initial collection of artifacts has allowed us to start interpreting and asking questions about the history of the house. A smaller group of students also visited the modern day Seccombe House to measure and map its layout. This will allow students to understand its spatial footprint and have an additional frame of reference for what will possibly be found during excavation.

Materials and Methods

Excavation Methods

On the first day of excavation, the Tuesday Lab group set up the site for our excavation of the Seccombe House. Using the grids established for our electrical resistance testing during week three, pin flags were placed approximately every five meters on the perimeter of the grid. Based on discussions in class surrounding the probe testing, electrical resistance, and our understanding of historic maps, the class decided on two specific sites to excavate. These were respectively named Unit 1 and 2. Both are 2×1 meter squares; however, they are oriented differently to encompass specific aspects that were deemed of interest by the group.

Unit 2 as seen at the beginning of lab on Wednesday.

The Tuesday lab group plotted out the corners of the two units based on GPS coordinates from the map (shown below). Once the corners were marked, string was used to outline each excavation unit. Afterwards, fencing was placed around the perimeter of the excavation site to ensure community safety and the integrity of the site while it is not being worked on. Excavation site forms were prepped for excavation. This included filling out context (name of site), test unit numbers, unit coordinates, level number and specific strata. Additionally, the datum was established in the northwest corner of each test unit. The datum is the point from which all vertical measurements are taken. To set up the excavation sheets, the elevation of each corner needs to be taken. First, a string with a small level is attached to the datum. Next the string is brought to a corner. Once the level is even, a measuring stick is held up vertically from the corner next to the level. Wherever the string and measuring stick intersect is the height difference from the datum. This is then noted on the excavation sheet. Last, a screening site was established on the Eastern side of Skinner chapel. 

Map made in ArcGIS of the excavation units. Unit 1 is on the left, Unit 2 is on the right.

Map credit: Sarah Kennedy

Left: Students taking levels of Unit 2.

The first step of excavation began with the removal of sod from the top of both units with shovels. The sod was saved with the hopes that it can be placed back over the units after excavation is complete. Next dirt was removed with trowels. Each unit had specific buckets where dirt was placed before it was screened. Unit 1 utilized blue and green buckets, as well as a wheel barrow. Unit 2 used only white buckets. Soil from separate excavation units was never mixed. When screening, all dirt collected was moved through the screens. Any artifacts collected were placed in specific bags based on artifact type, unit, and level. All were bags were labeled: “ACA 2023, SHMH, UNIT #, LEVEL #, ARTIFACT TYPE, US, DATE.” They were then filled accordingly throughout the excavation. Small rocks and items not of interest were discarded along with the dirt moved through screens.

Each unit used cultural levels to dictate when a new level would begin. Cultural levels are informed by the context, such as the appearance of new materials or soil types, as opposed to prescribed levels which function based off of a pre-set depth. Unit 1’s first level was approximately 15cm deep, while unit 2’s level was approximately 10cm deep. Once the second level was reached, a new sheet was filled out with the necessary information listed above.

Left: Student in Wednesday’s lab screening dirt from the units.

Right: Professor Sarah demonstrating how to properly label artifact bags.

Measurement Methods

The Seccombe house was removed from its foundation on Carleton’s campus sometime between 1914 to 1916, and was moved a few blocks away to Nevada Street, where it can still be found today. Four of us spent the first hour or so of lab over at the current Seccombe house taking measurements of the house. Two people used the measuring tape to go section by section around the house, while reporting each measurement to the notetaker. All of the measurements were taken using the metric system. Each section that was measured was determined by interfering features of the house. For example, the front porch was broken up into three sections, the wall north of the stairs, the stairs, and the wall south of the stairs. The notetaker was also responsible for creating sketches of the house’s foundation and outlining which measurement was associated with which section of the house. After the lab, they polished this information and created the outline you see here.

Sketch credit: Lily Burrows

Comparing the Old and New Seccombe House Through Pictures

Left: 1891 Seccombe House, Viewed from the Northwest

Right: 2023 Seccombe House, Viewed from the North

Note the missing cupola on top of the modern house, as well as the small porch/entryway on the North wall that is no longer there.

Left: Pre-1909 Seccombe House, viewed from the Southwest

Right: 2023 Seccombe House, Viewed from the Southwest

Note that the porch on the modern house has been enclosed and there are now two doors instead of one. The stairs on the modern house are more pronounced, because the modern house sits higher on its foundation than the old house.

Data Collection

Unlike last week’s lab, we weren’t sure what we would be finding, or even if we would find anything of interest in any of units 1 and 2. Tuesday’s lab dug an estimated 10 centimeters per unit (they were never able to take levels because of time constraints), and found no objects. However, Wednesday’s lab found multiple items in both units, some before even finishing leveling off level 1. By the end of level 2, which was about 15-20 centimeters in depth, we had found nails, conglomerate, (possibly) slag, modern rubber plastic, charcoal, brick, limestone brick, ceramic, glass shards, and a squirrel mandible. It is worth noting that the “limestone brick” we uncovered was not fully intact, nor was the ceramic piece we found in the west wall of unit 1. 

We categorized our findings into bags separated by unit, level, material, and date. These materials included plastic, metal, glass, etc. Anything we were unsure of, yet was large enough to be of interest, was placed into its respective unit and level bag labeled “other.” 

Piece of ceramic, possible remains of a sewer line or building tile.

Findings and Discussion

The question we would like to answer after this week’s lab is: what can the objects we found from this past Tuesday and Wednesday tell us about Seccombe? Because the objects we found were shallower in the ground than we expected them to be, we might be able to consider the possibility of the site being used to dump rubble (perhaps in order to flatten and level out the ground after the removal of Seccombe) from the chapel construction. We will be able to tell the earliest time the debris has been in that area by looking at the nails we found. Because nails change depending on the date of production, we should be able to identify when the nail was made and associate that date with the rest of the objects found. 

What we have not found yet was the foundation of the building. This was to be expected because we probed the perimeter in weeks prior and found that they were approximately a meter under the surface. Once we do find the foundation in our later labs, we can compare the material of the foundation to our findings from this past lab. Depending on the results, we might be able to tell if the debris is part of the Seccombe house. 

As for the ceramic pieces we found, we think it is possible that they could be part of the sewer lines, which were made of ceramic during the time Seccombe was built. We hope to be able to find and know more as we continue excavation. 

Week 5- Test Excavation

Created by Suwannee Conroy-Baarsch and Campbell Pflaum


The purpose of this lab was to practice the methods of excavation before starting the excavation at Seccombe. In another course, Experimental Archaeology, students practice the replication of historical actions, such as using stone axes to cut down a tree or conducting ancient rituals and burnings. Last spring, the course involved the replication of an ancient Greek ritual in which cow femurs and oxtails are burned together in sacrifice to the gods. The products of this ritual (burned bones) were then buried in the Arb and lab this week allowed us to dig up the bones and practice excavation in a more controlled [predictable?] environment. 

Materials and Methods

Before beginning the excavation, we gathered various materials necessary and brought them to the site. These include trowels, buckets, gloves, tarps, measuring tapes, gardening shears, rakes, shovels, mesh dry screens (used to shift dirt and reveal artifacts), a Trimble GPS, brushes and dustpans, nails/stakes, string, and level. The next step was to find the location we were excavating. In this case, the previously buried bones had been marked with pinflags, making location much easier. Because the location had thick vegetation, we proceeded to clear the area and reveal the top layer of dirt, using the rake, shears, and gloves. Two areas are necessary for the excavation, the test unit, which is where the digging takes place, and a sifting area, where the dry screens are set up and the dirt sifted. 

The supplies used for the excavation area 

Students from lab 1 clearing vegetation

Once the area is cleared of vegetation, the test unit must be measured out. For this excavation, we used a two meter by two meter unit, whereas at Seccombe house it is likely we’ll only use one meter by one meter units. The square is measured out by first determining one side and measuring two meters, oriented north-south. A nail is placed at the two ends of this measurement. A second measuring tape is then used to measure from the southern nail horizontally (in this case, we went eastward) two meters. The original measuring tape is moved to act as a hypotenuse, and the length of this is determined using the Pythagorean Theorem (a^2 + b^2 = c^2). The third nail is placed where the hypotenuse measurement and horizontal measurement meet. This process is then repeated on the other side of the unit and all the side measurements are double checked. Choosing the right location for the test unit is important, and in our lab we moved our unit up and over slightly after the first measurement in order to more fully encompass what we believed was the buried pit. 

Students from Lab 1 Measuring out the excavation site 

Once the nails had been placed at the four corners of the test unit, we marked the edges using string. We then set up our excavation report/notes form, including the level and strata numbers (strata are the layers of different types of dirt, as you go down and find different types of dirt you move between different stratas). We then set up the datum, which is the point at which depth is measured for the entirety of the excavation. In order to decrease confusion, we placed the datum at the highest corner of our test unit. Then, using another string and the level, we recorded how much lower the four corners and the rough center of the test unit were from our datum point. Finally, the last part of set-up for the excavation required laying out the tarps for the sifting area and setting up the dry screens. We then distributed trowels, dustpans, and empty buckets to begin digging!

Students from Lab 1 digging up the excavation site with shovels and trowels.

The actual dig was divided between two days. The first lab group dug to approximately 18cm deep in the 2 meter by 2 meter square excavation site. As the first lab went through the excavation process, we collected the dirt that we displaced and shifted through it to collect any miniature artifacts that may otherwise have been missed in the excavation process. For each of the first two soil levels, a members of the class filled out an excavation form where we  documented the soil levels via the datum, sketched what the excavation site looked like by the end of that stage of excavation, noted the soil type,  and documented the artifacts collected via the number and category of artifact storage bags. 

The second lab dug deeper into the excavation site. We focused on two areas of interest, one which contained what we believed to be a sheep carcass and another which contained burnt cow femurs and oxtails. Per Sarah’s advice, we attempted to bisect the section containing the cow femurs and dig up the section containing the sheep carcasses. The goal of bisecting the cow femur section was to level the ground to the same level as the deepest artifact we uncovered. This could reveal more about soil patterns surrounding the burnt cow femurs, however there wasn’t a visible difference between the soil surrounding the cow femurs and the soil apart from them. Additionally, the pit containing the cow femurs was deeper than we anticipated. Accordingly, we made the decision to minimize the section we bisected for the sake of time constraints.  The second lab separately documented the cow femur and sheep carcass excavations in two separate excavation logs. We also collected the dirt we displaced and shifted through it. This was especially helpful for the dirt from the cow femur section because the bones had shattered and there were several bone shards buried throughout the dirt. 

Students from Lab 2 shifting through displaced dirt at the excavation site 

Students from Lab 2 collecting artifacts from the excavation site 

The excavation site at the beginning of Lab 2 

Excavation Site at the end of Lab 2 

Findings and Results

While we knew that we would be finding burned bones from the ritual, it is still important to recount our findings and the results of our excavation. In the first lab section, we only found small bones, most of which were revealed during the sifting process. However, after uncovering the locations of the ritual pit, we also discovered the remains of a goat, which had been another project in a previous experimental archaeology class. The second lab class was then able to complete the more delicate work of removing the larger bones. These included large sections of the cow femurs, small bones from the oxtails, and goat bones, including a split skull. After completing the excavation, we place the dirt back in the test unit and move any remaining tools and markers from the area.

This work is significant because it is a part of an ongoing effort within the Carleton archeology program to engage in experimental archeology. This process involves engaging in activities that people in the past would have engaged in and producing, discarding, and burying the byproducts of those activities. The information gained from this process can help archeologists better interpret artifacts. 

In this case, the experimental archeological remains that we were digging up were from a ritualistic greek cow femur and lamb sacrifice spearheaded by Professor Jake Morton. Professor Morton plans to analyze the bones for cut marks or any other information that may be useful to modern archeologists studying similar remains.    

An Excavation form front and back

Some of the bones recovered during Lab 1

Week 4 – Pedestrian Survey

(Tuesday and Wednesday)

Created By: Hannah Preisser, Kate Eng, and Lily Petersen


The purpose of this week’s lab was to learn about pedestrian survey as an archaeological method–both how to do one, and how to analyze and present results. This method allows someone to cover a fair amount of ground and get a sense of the concentration of artifacts in the area without having to go over every inch of land. It is also noninvasive, so can be done without having to disturb the land, apply for excavation permits, or remove the artifacts themselves from their surrounding context. As we surveyed, we marked the locations of artifacts and then uploaded their location and type to the ArcGIS mapping app. We also recorded some features (human-influenced parts of the area being surveyed that cannot be moved, such as metal stakes for planting). Later, when we returned to the classroom, we used this location data to experiment with presenting maps in a way that is helpful for interpretation and analysis of survey results. Although we conducted our survey in a former farmfield in the Arb, the methods learned can be applied to a wide variety of locations, including the site of Seccombe House.

Materials and Methods

Pedestrian survey is a systematic form of surface survey. It involves a grid system, the different areas to be surveyed being divided into sectors, and individuals walk transects, straight parallel lines across the surface along which walkers search for artifacts. Lengths between transects are determined based on the priority of the researchers, and typical sectors are 20 by 20 meters long. 

Students walking transect lines

In our case, however, for the sake of efficiency and what was possible to accomplish over two lab periods, we divided the approximately 83,000 m2 area in the arboretum into eight sectors: A1 (~7,000 m2), A2 (~10,000 m2), B1 (~13,000 m2), B2 (~11,000 m2), C1 (~11,000 m2), C2 (~10,000 m2), D1 (~11,000 m2), and D2 (~9,000 m2). \

Sector grid of the area of interest

During each lab, we split into two groups of six during surveying. In the Tuesday lab, we surveyed sectors A1 through B2 and, in the Wednesday lab, C1 through D2. In each sector, students walked transect lines between 10 and 15 meters apart. While we walked the lines, we used compasses to aid us in walking straight and inserted pin flags into the ground at any areas we spotted artifacts or features of interest. We were able to find the sectors and determine when we finished surveying a sector with the help of a GNSS-connected (like GPS, but a more global navigation system; i.e. Global Navigation Satellite System) map on ArcGIS Online (a web GIS–Geographic Information System for analyzing and displaying geographic information–mapping software). 

After surveying a grid, we returned to each pin flag and added feature points to our ArcGIS map (some, but not all, groups also added artifact points to the ArcGIS map–this inconsistency will be addressed below) with information about the find as well as writing down information about any artifacts and the sectors’ conditions (e.g., foliage cover). After finishing surveying, we returned to the classroom and added the artifact information to ArcGIS. We then saved the created map to our own accounts, playing around with map features.


The lab groups on both Tuesday and Wednesday found human artifacts. Most notably, Tuesday’s lab group found a contact case and blue tape. Wednesday’s lab group found more artifacts, including more pieces of tape, glass, plastic, a golf ball, an aluminum can and sunglasses. There were also many features that were found, such as the protective tree enclosures, shells and charred wood. The more natural features related less to human interaction with the site and more to the history of the site itself. In the case of the tree enclosures, we did not consider them artifacts as the arboretum staff intentionally placed them recently. 

Grid with all of the data

Using ArcGIS, we found that the most common classification was plastic, which was most commonly found in section B2 of the grid (which includes both artifacts and features)

Grid organized by plastic concentration

However, other categories were found as well, such as metal and glass. 

Grid organized by glass concentration

Grid organized by metal concentration

The reason Wednesday lab group potentially found more artifacts is because the sectors were closer to the road. Therefore, there is more opportunity for human interaction, as people have easier access to these sectors. 

The artifacts that were found were hard to date exactly, but there were certain context clues that helped. For example, the sunglasses appeared melted, which could be due to the controlled burnings in the arboretum.

Charred sunglasses

The contact lens case had a brand on it, and would be easier to discover a timeframe when this was likely dropped. 

Contact case found (credit: Zaeda Peter)

Other artifacts were so nondescript that it would be difficult to even hypothesize where they came from, such as the shard of glass

Shard of glass with pencil for scale

In order to consider the relevant information, we filtered out all of the features so that the only points on the map are artifacts.  

Grid with artifacts only


Overall, while we did record several points of interest, not every artifact and feature is created equal. Firstly, the way in which different groups opted to record artifact types varied, meaning that some areas of the grid have far more points listed, despite having a similar actual amount of artifacts to others. For example, one of the groups that recorded points in the area further from the road only recorded features as points, and did not record the locations of artifacts. This means that the concentration of features is higher in the areas further from the road, while areas closer to the road have a much higher concentration of artifacts. In order to present our data in a way that is useful for interpretation, it thus might (for example) be appropriate to filter out features and focus on only artifacts, or focus on only artifacts that use specific materials, such as plastic. For future use of this method, it would also be appropriate to better communicate ahead of time about the specifics of what to record and how.

Another way in which the data may be inconsistent is the actual coordinates of the lines walked. We lined up in the approximate location of the start line for each grid area, but as we only eyeballed it, there was most likely some area that we didn’t cover and some areas that overlapped. We were also inexperienced walkers, so the lines that we walked were not straight, meaning that some gaps between transects were wider than others. Also due to inexperience, we did not search the area as effectively as a more experienced team of archaeologists could, which may explain the general lack of artifacts found. Another factor that could have influenced this was the ground cover– the area we searched in was covered in scrubby plants, and because it had recently rained, there was fairly low visibility. One way to get around this would have been to do the survey in late fall or early winter, but we were limited by time constraints.

Given the data that we collected, however, we can draw a few conclusions. Firstly, the fact that artifacts were concentrated closer to the road could indicate that people often throw trash out of their car windows. Secondly, the generally small amount of artifacts found compared to past years of pedestrian survey in the Arb could indicate that fewer students come to the Upper Arb than the Lower Arb. 

Although we may not have found much, we still took away valuable information about how to conduct a pedestrian survey and how to analyze results. This included learning about different methodologies, the importance of communication, and the way in which presentation of results impacts understanding. Were we to do this again in a different location, we would definitely be able to apply what we learned from this experience to get more effective results.

Week 3Geophysics Survey

(Tuesday and Wednesday Lab)

Created By: Zaeda Peter, Sophie Ismail, and Ellie Simon


The purpose of this week’s lab was to teach the students of ARCN 246 the methods of archaeological survey and how data from surveys may be visualized and contextualized. Additionally, surveying is a less invasive form of archaeology compared to excavation, so this was a useful preliminary way for us to increase our understanding of the layout and makeup of Seccombe House  (also called Old Music Hall) without actually having to break ground. We surveyed multiple places on campus using a few different methods–GNSS, GPR, ground probing, and electrical resistance– but our primary focus was on the Seccombe House, on the south lawn of Skinner Chapel. This house had previously been used by Carleton faculty and students to continue the pursuit of music education at Carleton, mostly in the form of piano, violin, violoncello, and voice lessons. To the south lies 1st street; to the east, parking lots; to the west, Scoville hall, and to the north, the Skinner Chapel and the Bald Spot. Previous results from combining archival maps with resistance surveys of the area revealed the building plan to be a large rectangle. Our subsequent survey work would further this data.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)

A GPR or ground penetrating radar is a minimally invasive, geophysical locating method that uses radio waves to capture images below the ground’s surface. We were instructed to use the machine inside due to poor weather conditions and began by first mapping out the classroom. Regardless, the GPR would have proved to be an ineffective tool outside on the Chapel Lawn. This was due not only to the dampness of the earth on that particular day, but also because of the texture of the clay soil in front of the Chapel (which was likely imported). We used the GPR in the classroom as a learning exercise to demonstrate how GPR would work if we were able to use it outside on campus. Unfortunately, in our tests of the classroom, the radio waves were unable to obtain any precise readings as it was revealed that the classroom floor had a metal mesh that interfered with the transmission of data.

GPR equipment being used in the archaeology classroom.

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)

While one-half of the class continued to practice using the GPR, the rest of us ventured outside to try our hand at using a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver. GNSS is similar to GPS, but it uses satellites from countries all over the globe, rather than just using US satellites. The system works by determining the distance between the receiver and many different satellites in order to find the receiver’s exact location on Earth.

 Through the use of the mobile app Field Maps on the iPad, we could connect the data from the GNSS receiver to a mobile mapping site. We stopped at different locations on campus, marking the location on Field Maps with both our mobile phones and the GNSS receiver to compare the data from the GNSS receiver to the less advanced cell phone GPS. The phone pinpointed our location as a few feet westward, while the GPS was far more accurate.

Next, we headed out to the Seccombe House site to collect data with a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver. While the cloudy sky made our receivers’ data slightly inaccurate, we were able to use the receivers to find points that were previously recorded on a digital map of the site and use flags to make the points visible in real life. These points showed the corners of the grid used in a previous electric resistance survey.

We test using the GNSS receiver outside. The receiver must stay relatively high off of the ground in order to limit interference from the user’s body or other objects close to the ground.

Electric Resistance Survey

Electric Resistance survey is used to detect points of low resistance and points of high resistance within the ground. The probe used to collect data sends an electric current in the ground, and collects singular points at different locations. For this reason, we make a grid using tape measures and markers on the ground and collect data approximately every 50 cm. Afterwards, the data points can be turned into pixels to make a map showing areas of high resistance or low resistance at the site. A previous electric resistance survey taken at the Seccombe House in August shows an area of low-resistance that could be an old sewer line, as well as areas of high resistance that may show the shape of the building. During our lab, we attempted to extend the grid that was used in the electric resistance survey in order to collect a wider map of data. The wet ground from rain and user-error from so many new students using the probe prevented us from accurately collecting this data, but we were still able to use GNSS along with the previous map in order to mark the spots of high resistance according to the August survey.

The electrical resistance survey is taken on the Chapel lawn. The legs of the probe (pictured here) must be placed a few centimeters into the ground at every data point in the grid.
Data from the electrical resistance survey taken at the Seccombe House site in August by Archaeo-Physics LLC, along with Dr. Sarah Kennedy. The red and black areas are areas that showed high resistance, while blue areas showed areas of low resistance. The green areas are spots where accurate data could not be taken, such as under trees or lampposts.


Probes are an archaeological tool that is essentially a narrow metal cylinder that one pushes into the ground as far as possible until it is unable, giving a rough estimate of how far down beneath the surface the archaeological remains may lie and how deep the excavation will have to go. We used a probe along an area that showed high resistance in the electrical resistance survey. We believe that this may mark the wall of the old Seccombe House, so we used a physical probe in order to: locate the wall, get a sense for how deep beneath the earth it lies and measure both inside and outside the wall of Seccombe House to gauge the differences in depth inside and outside the house. Further, there was the purpose of seeing what kinds of actual materials may have composed the house that were blocked by all the grass and dirt. *Note*: the point where the probe touches solid material is called the “refusal point.”

We started at the 5 meter mark along the wall of the house. After pushing the probe down into the ground about 24 cm, we hit solid material. Judging from the sound of the probe hitting the material, it sounded like wood or stone. 

At 5.5 m, also around 24 cm down, we hit something that sounded hard and hollow. At this point, we also took a soil sample, with a 1 inch core. According to Geoff, the GPR, electrical resistance, and probing expert, the sample was “sandy, mostly silt, or a silty loam.” The sample changed colors/texture to clay at the bottom. 

At 16 m, we hit a refusal point at ~25 cm into the ground. Here, there was a prominent and visible soil change from that same silty loam to what we thought was mortar from the house at the bottom. 

Along the way, we took a few “taste tests” of the dirt that the probe core brought up. We described it as not having a particularly strong taste, but if one had to describe the taste it would probably be “earthy.” The texture, however, was less inoffensive: the extremely fine, sand-like particles that made up the dirt really got between our teeth. Unfortunately, we did not think it advisable to taste the mortar, so we did not get to distinguish it from the dirt in that aspect.

A sample of soil taken along what is possibly the remnants of the wall of Seccombe House underground. We can see the change from dirt, found closer to the surface, to what is could be mortar found lower in the ground.


Overall, we weren’t able to reach any conclusive data from this lab, but that’s why archaeological research is a process. Through demonstrations of the GPR and the electrical resistance survey,  we were able to better understand how archaeologists can discover information about a site without having to dig. Using the GNSS, we were able to visualize the site and use mapping to make it more accessible online. Ultimately, the physical probing allowed us to get some of the most tangible information. The probe really made the house seem a lot more accessible and nearby. While we do have pictures of the house when it was still standing and helpful maps from GPR and geophysical survey,  it can be hard to visualize the house in its underground state. The probe helped bring a more tangible, tactile visualization of the house into view that will only be furthered by excavation.

This map, overlayed over satellite imagery of the Chapel lawn, combines archival maps and data from the electrical resistance survey. The red points represent the corners of the survey grid, or in other words, the bounds of the survey. The blue points within that area were taken using GNSS to show areas of high resistance according to the survey. Most of the blue points are offset from where we originally placed the Seccombe House outline, suggesting that the estimation of where the house would be based off of archival maps was somewhat off.

Week 2 – Tour of the Arb

(Tuesday and Wednesday Lab)

Created By: Taylor Canas, Charlie Cullen, Sofia Hanna


For our first lab in this course, we ventured into the arb and embarked on a three hour hike which was led by Matt on Tuesday and Nancy on Wednesday. During our travels we stopped by several notable locations including Olin House and its farm (the farm of which stood out with its demolished tool shed and artifact-filled trash heap), Millpond Dike and Quarry (that boasted several large stone and metal fragments), and last but certainly not least, the Women’s League Cabin. We focused mainly on learning about previous digs, history of the spots, and the nature around us. 

We were shown an aerial view of the arb in the 50s when it was used primarily for agriculture.

Olin House and Farm

After leaving the Arb office, the first site that we stopped at in our lab was the Olin House. This feature of the Arb is what remains of the Olin farm that was bought by Carleton College in 1916 and eventually transformed into forest. We observed the house from a distance because it is lived in today by a faculty member of the college. While the house is a well preserved, functioning, and obvious part of the school’s history, we were also able to gather information when we inspected a trash heap in a pit near the building. 

A view of the Olin House seen from a path in the Arb

When looking closely, we could tell that the earth near the trash had been shaped by humans because of the clean cut lines that formed the footprint of the pit. We noticed a collection of several different items such as bricks, rusted metal, glass bottles, and many neatly organized tiles in the garbage pile. We were able to apply our understanding of the “Garbology” (McCurdy) unit that we had just completed in class to look at this trash with an archeological perspective and make informed theories and questions. 

Rusty metal disk (upper left), leftover bricks (upper right), stack of tiles (bottom)

An example of a theory we considered in the lab came from our questions about the quantity of neatly stacked tiles. Maybe they were organized there with the intention of being returned to but were forgotten. This hypothesis is reminiscent of a situation that we learned about in class where sites are excavated and found with large deposits of tools left under the ground. Materials like these are buried for storage during a transitional period where a group of people prepares for a seasonal migration but were forgotten and lost. Perhaps a similar story played out in the Arb with these tiles.

Millpond Dike and Waterford Mill

The next stop on our adventure was the Millpond Dike and Waterford Mill. We learned that the dike was built in conjunction with a dam to hold back water from the river and power the Mill. The Mill was at first a flour mill, and later was used to generate power. We walked along the dike, a long and elevated portion of earth, to get to the mill site. Matt informed us that they were not quite sure where the soil for the dike came from, but that there were a few areas around the arb that look like they might have been dug for that purpose. Once we got to the Mill site itself (on the Cannon river)  we could see a few concrete features with large pipes running through. Matt explained how there were more features across the river since that was where the Mill itself stood, but we were unable to see them. We also talked about how the Cannon river today is contaminated by agricultural runoff and other pollutants. Once, the river was filled with muscles that filtered the water, but now the species is few and far between. We wondered whether the Mill once also polluted the water.

Leftover stone and metal fragments

The next stop on our hike was supposed to be the limestone quarry site, excavated by a 2021 class. However, when we arrived, a giant tree had fallen and blocked access to the site. While this was disappointing, it led to an interesting conversation about community archaeology. In order to do any further research at the site, archaeologists would have to work closely with the arb crew to remove the tree. 

When we emerged from the wooded area where the quarry was, a classmate noticed how fencing ran through the prairie a little ways off of the path. The vegetation on the other side of the fence was much taller than the vegetation on our side. Matt explained how this was deer fencing, since the arb’s population of deer is much larger than what is sustainable for an area of that size. So, they eat a lot of the vegetation in the non-protected areas. This is just one example of how so much care goes into maintaining the arb. 

Snake Intermission

Another interesting thing that the Wednesday lab got to see was a snake on the trail. Sadly, the garter snake that we saw was dead but we learned from Nancy that it was one of the three kinds of snakes that live in the Arb. Although the snake is not an example of material remains that an archaeologist would consider an artifact, it is likely that this snake indirectly interacted with humans and was affected by the impact that people have had on the environment. We learned that when the temperature drops in the winter, snakes gather at the old quarry and take shelter in the crevices in the landscape that were shaped by humans. This indirect relationship means that the snake that we saw could have survived last winter because of the influence of human activity.

The headless snake

Women’s League Cabin

In the 1930s, when women began requesting the construction of a women’s cabin, the campus was split by gender, with women on the east side. Because of rigorous rules regarding what women could participate in, wear, etc. a movement began to convince the college to build a women’s cabin which may serve to provide, “… recreation, camp-life, picnic food, mystery stories, and fun out-of-doors” (A female student, Virginia Voight, in 1937). While utilized by women throughout the decades, and eventually allowed usage by all students during the 60s when the women’s league disbanded, it eventually fell out of use and was demolished. Little remains of the cabin, save for a rusty water pump (see below). However, I happened to stumble upon an object that may have been neglected as trash during the demolition: a rusted through, long metal rod, that Matt said may have been used on a tractor. Another student also found a carved wooden stump that may have been used for a fence. Both tossed away as unimportant, our lab class considered them to be great finds, and perhaps an indication of what life was like back then (how certain things were constructed, manipulation of certain materials, etc.) . Similar to our discussion in class about “Garbology” (McCurdy), it is common in archaeology that people’s trash becomes an archaeologist’s treasure, especially if this “trash” is all that remains of a site.

Stone pile and rusty water pump (upper left), rusty pole (upper right), me with my rusty pole (bottom left), the remnants of a wooden fence (bottom right)

Historic photo of the fence around the Women’s League Cabin (undated). The original wooden fence poles are visible, with the carved slots to hold the horizontal fence slats, exactly like the artifact found at the site (above). Photograph courtesy of the Carleton College Archives.