For our first archeological project in the field we learned and applied some basic survey techniques, behind the Carleton college library. After a brief introduction to the concepts involved in archeological survey we proceeded behind the library. Here we divided up, the ground to be covered in the survey, into areas demarcated by the topography and ground cover of the area. The area I was assigned to survey, in a group of three, was on the face of a hill adjacent to the parking lot. We select several categories of material to catalog and began a walking survey. I walked on the path closest to the parking lot. The majority of the artifacts we noted were plastic or paper. Almost all of it was litter or other trash that had blown down the hill and had been caught in the brush. We later combined our data with the other survey groups and proceeded to list our findings on a map. This exercise was an excellent introduction to survey and a very hands way to understand its principals.
This week, for our archeological project, the class visited the Goodhue County Historical Society and Museum. The trip began with a brief introduction to the Museum and the History of the Goodhue county Historical society. This was followed by a discussion of the area’s archaeology. The archaeology of the area is mostly geared toward the Mississippian culture, more specifically the Dakota tribe. The sites mostly appear near where the Cannon river merges with the Mississippi River on its journey south. The importance of this location to commerce in the area led to the construction of the many burial mounds in the area as well as a village mound, one of the few of its kind in this area of Minnesota. We were then shown the archeology exhibit within the museum and presented with several artifacts from the collection to examine. We paid particular interest to the Energy Park site, as we attempted to visit the mound on our return. Another exhibit within the museum that I found of particular interest was the Geology Exhibition and the attention it paid to the local bluff, which held significance for the indigenous peoples of the area. Ultimately the trip was very informative about the Pre-Columbian archeology in southern Minnesota as well as being excellent exposure to the relationship between archaeology and museums.
This week we used our lab time to conduct a walking survey ofs several fields adjacent to our chosen excavation site of the womens league cabin. The survey was done by three teams each focusing on 3 separate areas for survey. I worked in Survey Group C, walking the survey and bagging the materials we collected. Surveyed a recently burnt prairie are. The area was divided into 6 different survey units Four survey units of equal size and two smaller ones at the edge, conforming to the shape of the burned area. For the survey we were placed roughly fifteen meters from each other. We walked the survey units on a north south axis looking for materials on meter to each side of our path. Very few artifacts were collect by on this survey. Several odd bits of plastic were recovered as well as a few pieces of foil. These collections were bagged and taken back for examination. One find of interest from our survey unit was a burnt and melted one card. The surveyed area was mapped and all the data was then compiled.
This week during our lab period we began preparing the Womens League Cabin Site for excavation. The class was divided into several teams, each with a different project at the site. I worked on the site survey team. We divided the Womens League Cabin Site into a grid of ten meter by ten meter survey units. Teams of two we given a row of five units to thoroughly survey, map, and record. Me and my partner were responsible for surveying row B. Each unit was mapped, with major features such as trees marked, and then a comprehensive walking survey was performed. The artifacts we recovered were marked on the maps as well. The first two survey units were densely forested and yielded very little material culture. As we moved farther down our row of survey units the ground cover became less dense and the amount of material recovered increased. Most of what was found was either glass or plastic. The finds were bagged for further analysis. The final survey unit contained a feature of particular interest. This was an old metal barrel which seemed to have been filled with old glass bottles and cans. These finds were not bagged but were noted for a later date. The survey provided valuable information about the layout of the site. With the maps and general spread of material recovered in this survey, the project now has comprehensive understanding of the layout of the Womens League Cabin Site.