Emma Starr

Ninth and Tenth Week

These last two weeks have been filled with a lot of final project work in the lab.  We did a lot of data collection and analysis and wrote for our webpage for Trench 3, which is now looking great!  Definitely the highlight (or maybe just the funniest thing) in the past two weeks was backfilling the trenches in the rain.  Even though we got covered in mud, I think it was a really valuable experience to learn what happens after the end of an excavation season.  It’s sad to see the class coming to an end, but I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot about archaeology!

Eighth Week

5/19/15- Today was our last day of excavation and also Community Archaeology Day!  Even at the beginning of the day, our trench was really deep, so we didn’t expect to find much going into the day.  As the day went on, we still found the occasional nail or shard of glass, but not anywhere close to the multitude of the past few weeks, which was to be expected. We met with members of the Carleton and Northfield communities and told them about our work at the site and some of the most interesting highlights of our term.  Overall, I found excavating to be a really interesting and exciting process, and I look forward to finishing up our final projects and continuing to learn more about the site.

Seventh Week

5/12/15- Today we continued excavating our trench and we also continued to find some really interesting things.  In addition to the nails/screws we found last week, we found 7 or 8 more nails this week.  As we got further down, we found less and less glass.  We found some sort of clasp that looks like it could be for clothing, and we found most of a can and some pieces that we think go with it.  The most perplexing thing we found was what looks like burnt slate.  We hypothesized it might have come from some shingles, but that doesn’t explain why it looks burnt, so we’re going to look at it in the lab on Thursday hopefully.

Sixth Week Contemplation

5/5/15- We started excavating today!  It was so great to be able to focus on one part of the site.  We chose to place a trench (Trench 3) in Survey Unit A03, which was downslope from the rest of the site and was possibly a dump site for debris from the cabin demolition.  We made a 1m by 1m trench, cleared the area, and began digging.  We moved through three contexts during the class period and found a large amount of glass and charcoal, in addition to a really cool metal hinge (we think) and some screws that may or may not belong to the hinge.  It was really exciting every time we found something, and we even got to use the sifter, which I wasn’t great at but it was still cool.  We thought we might not find much as we got further below the surface, but so far we’ve still found a fair amount of artifacts.  I’m excited to see what we find next!

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Fifth Week Impressions

4/28/15- Today for lab we really started to move along with the Women’s League Cabin site!  For my group at least, we had to wait a little while before we could really get into the site because we had to finish the fieldwalking in the corn fields.  We did get to talk to one of the farmers, who informed us that they were tilling the fields with a method called “zone(d?) tilling,” which involves only turning over the soil of the rows where crops were actually planted, not the field in its entirety.

After finding very a super cool spine of an animal (credit to Claire), we moved back to the Women’s League Cabin and assisted with surveying and clearing there.  I helped Adam and Avi finish their survey units, and then I worked with Liza on determining the location of the building. From that experience, I learned that its always a good idea to consider that a dead tree may be the tree you’re looking for.  I’m really excited to continue to work on this site and to move forward on final projects!

Fourth Week Thoughts

4/21/15- For lab today we first went to our classroom in Hulings to have a lecture from Professor Sarah Murray from the University of Nebraska Lincoln.  She taught us about photogrammetry, and we even got to make a photogrammetric model as a class.  It was really cool to see the process of  creating a 3D model.  After making the model, we went back out into the Arb to continue surveying and clearing the land for the rest of the term.  Since I was on Team A last week, I continued to survey the same corn fields.  It was cold and windy and snowing, so being on the unprotected corn fields wasn’t very fun, but it went by quickly and it helped that we had to keep moving in order to survey.  We only found a couple of pieces of debris in the two survey units we completed.  The other team was clearing leaves on the site of the Women’s League Cabin, so I’m excited to see what we do next!

Third Week Observations

4/14/15- For lab today we spent the entire time working in the Arb!  The weather was fantastic and it was the perfect day to work outside.  We conducted a pedestrian survey of some fields near the Women’s League Cabin site in the Arb.  After breaking up into three groups, we were assigned positions within the group and we proceeded to conduct our surveys.  I was the recorder for our group (Team A), so I didn’t actually do the surveying, but I wrote down pretty much everything that happened during the lab.  As a team, we conducted surveys of six survey units, with our five surveyors spaced 15 meters apart.  We found a number of pieces of plastic and paper, one piece of metal, and two pieces of glass in our surveys.  I honestly expected to find more, simply because part of our area was bordered by two roads, but it was still interesting to see what we could find, even if it was mostly litter.  I think class today was a really great introduction to conducting archaeological surveys, and it definitely left me knowing how much work recording the activities of a survey really is.

Our group surveying the field on on such a gorgeous, clear day-

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Second Week Musings

Today (Tuesday, April 7th) we drove to Red Wing, Minnesota to visit the Goodhue County Historical Society Museum.  After a brief tour (with special focus on the Archaeology room), we got the privilege of handling some actual artifacts found on the various Native American (Middle/Upper Mississippian Era I think) sites in the county.  What I found particularly interesting about these artifacts was the reconstructed pot.  It made me think about the pros and cons of reconstructing such artifacts.  On the one hand, I can see the benefits of having a whole piece to present to the public and to give researchers an idea of what a whole pot may have looked like.  On the other hand, I really struggled with the idea of taking pieces found at a site and altering their state by adding more modern materials.  I’m not sure why I struggled so much with the idea; I guess it just felt like the artifacts had been almost defiled in some way.  I still don’t really know how I feel about the reconstruction idea, but I’m definitely currently not the biggest fan.

Another cool/interesting thing we (Avi, Adam, and I) found were these cards the museum made with close-up pictures of the artifacts to find and match up throughout the museum.  We each grabbed a ring of cards, and while we may have sped through a couple of exhibits in our rush to find all of the items on our cards, we also had some really interesting discussions and considered lots of different objects during our search.  We noticed some objects I don’t think we would have necessarily noticed, like the two almost identical beard trimmers in two separate rooms or the typewriter in the wooden box, and I think it overall gave us a pretty good idea of what the museum had to offer, even if it was a game meant for kids.

First Week Reflections

On Tuesday of last week, Archaeological Methods explored the area of campus between Lyman Lakes and Gould Library.  We conducted a brief survey of the area and counted the quantities of metal, glass, plastic, cigarette butts, and other materials present in the area.  In order to do this, we divided the rather large area into twelve survey units.  I was in survey unit 9, and we explored the slope leading up to the service road behind Laird and to the left of the Libe (when orienting from the back of the Libe).  We divided the area amongst the four of us into four transects, the first of which followed along the road at the top of the survey unit, there were two in the middle, and I was located at the base of the slope.  As a group, we counted 4 pieces of metal, 46 pieces of plastic, no glass or cigarettes, and 31 pieces of other.  We divided the other category into subcategories: 14 pieces of styrofoam, 9 pieces of paper, and 2 pieces of brick similar to that which composes nearby structures.  We had a fairly large number of findings compared to the other groups.  This is most likely due to the fact that our survey unit was bordered by a service road and a dumpster, both of which could cause an excess of debris the other units would not have had.

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