Week 9: 5/26/15
Today I mostly worked on trying to configure the survey wordpress pages into formats that would work for what our team wants. I was also able to finally get my hands on some of the ArcGIS files!! I met with Austin Mason on Monday and talked to him about what I wanted to do with ArcGIS and the different surveys, so I feel pretty good about working with ArcGIS online.
Update from 5/30 on Week 9- I had some issues working with ArcGIs initially. The maps group was using ArcGIS desktop version, not online, so I had to figure out how to get the files uploaded online. After a pretty unsuccessful night on the desktop version, I talked to Austin again on Wednesday and we figured out how to upload desktop files to online. And now I’m chugging right along on the project! ArcGIS online is actually really easy to use and I’m excited to see how the final project turns out.
Week 8: 5/19/15
Community Archaeology Day!! Luckily the weather today was really wonderful; aka it didn’t rain! I served as a docent for the site, welcoming visitors and giving background about the Women’s League Cabin and archaeology class while answering questions. We got 20 visitors over the 3 hour period, which I think was a pretty good turnout!! A couple students dropped by (including an Archaeology major from St. Olaf who ended up helping at the site), along with several professors, the Minnesota State Archaeologist, and Professor Knodell’s family. My first visitor of the day was Austin Mason, who wanted to see the site he’d heard about in class. My introductory speech/docent touring was a bit rough since I hadn’t practiced it or thought about a logical progression of ideas through the site, but he seemed to enjoy the information I told him. For the next several visitors I was able to hone a rough outline of what to say when and where, making the experience much smoother and more cohesive. I was also able to integrate using the ipad to show visitors pictures of the old cabin to compare to the current site. It was great that the State Archaeologist was able to stop by (he lives in Northfield), and he seemed pleased with the site. I gather that he goes around to all the field schools in MN to report on our activities. Until now I hadn’t realized this Archaeological Methods class was considered a field school, but I guess it is. (Hence all the field work 🙂 Near the end of the day Alex’s family came and it was a real pleasure showing them around. They asked great questions and I really enjoyed talking to them.
I was really quite happy with my job for Community history day. I even got my picture up on the screens around campus!!
Week 7: 5/12/15
Today in the field I was in charge of taking photos of the opening of different excavation contexts. This involved laying out a scale and compass marker, positioning myself to minimize shadows, and taking pictures. I kept track of all my major photos in the photo log, where I recorded context, trench number, what the photo was of, date, and my initials. It ended up being a pretty slow day in terms of changing excavation contexts, so I shifted around a lot between groups. Through this I was able to get a really solid sense of what was going on at the work site, the progress being made, and the issues faced by the excavation crews and total station team.
I also found a really cool bottle while I was wandering about. This can hopefully be used to help identify other glass remains.
Week 6: 5/7/15
Today i as unfortunately sick and unable to come to lab. However, my mind was in the field, thinking of the total station and cool new finds.
Week 5: 4/28/15
Today was a very active day in the Arb. Team A once again hit the corn, finishing up the final three survey units in the field, shadowed by a mechanical plow. Agricultualists were in the process of zone cropping, making our final survey barely in the nick of time (though it did appear that the crop rows we walked were more freshly furrowed than last week, so we might have been too late.) One of the men asked us what we were looking for. “Everything.” I was once again in charge of the GPS and overall mapping/pacing.
Once that was, completed Team A headed back to the WLC site and got to work integrating ourselves in the other groups. Alex and I preformed several surveys in the back portion of the site, units D5, C5, and C4, before all other grid slots were surveyed. I found some iridescent glass, pieces of metal, and the end of a bottle. We bagged and tagged everything. Another group found a really awesome old drum barrel with a beautiful assemblage of ceramics, tin cans, and other glass products. This was near the end of the day, so we didn’t get a chance to collect anything, but I look forward to gaining a picture of the materials at this site. Some of the ceramic looked like it could definitely be pieced back together, which I would love to do.
Week 4: 4/21/15
The day began with an extremely interesting lecture on Photogrammetry, which uses photos to make 3D models of artifacts and excavation sites. The fact that software for this technology is relatively cheap and accessible (I can download it), is making this longstanding method extremely relevant for modern archaeologists. I can definitely see why people are jumping on the band wagon and getting really excited about making 3D, sendable models of their findings. The possibilities seem literally endless. This topic got me extremely intrigued and I’m ooking forward to fiddling with the free version of Agisoft to get a hands on feel for the method. In terms of digital archiving, the heritage value could be enormous. I want to become a 3D file making expert and travel all over the world making impressive models. The utility of photogrammetry could easily help answer questions around contentious artifacts or remains. An example of this is the Tuang Child, a proto human found in South Africa in the 1920’s. For many years it was believed that the child was killed by a big cat, when in fact it was killed by an eagle. This eventual conclusion, reached in 2006, could have been reached and supported with hard evidence if perhaps a 3D model of the child’s skull had been created and disseminated (the evidence was in the eye sockets). Now, with technology available and largely usable other artifacts or remains or puzzles may be solved once more researchers and individuals can look at the whole 3D object.
Bottom Line. I think that Photogrammetry is sooooooooo cool.
After the lecture, which included a hands on look at how to use photogrammetry, the class traveled out to the Women’s League Cabin site to begin clearing the brush and map out survey units. Group A reunited and continued to survey the barren corn field; I was again in charge of GPS mapping and measuring out units, though this time instead of sun, we were buffeted by freezing rain and snow/hail.
Picture of me in the field. Luckily at this moment it wasn’t snow/hailing. Snailing.
Group A after a cold survey day. 🙂
Week 3: 4/14/15
Field Work!!!! Today we went out into the fields of the arboretum and practiced surveying methods. I clipped many useful things to my belt, including a counter, GPS, my water bottle, a compass, and some ziplock bags. I was a surveying mule and loved it. I was part of group A which surveyed a section of the field closes to a nearby road; my role was to map our units and take GPS coordinates. Part of this involved measuring out the spacing for each path the other surveyor would take, then measure out the entire length of the survey unit. I did this by walking, with every 20 of my steps equalling 15 meters. I had a really great time walking around in the field and am really, really glad I applied sunscreen to my face, because even with that protection I got red.
The attached photo is of the other surveyors hard at work, scanning the fields for bits of plastic and ceramic/other finds. Overall our section didn’t yield very many materials, though we did find some Dish tv gift cards good for 50 dollars off (they weren’t expired!) and a cool piece of metal.
Week 2: 4/7/2015
Visiting the museum was a great way to see how small museums are run on the local level. I’m interested in Museum Studies as a career, so getting to talk to the faces and personalities of a historical museum was a very beneficial experience.
It was definitely interesting looking at how archaeology was displayed in the museum vs some of the other exhibits. From walking around, it seemed like many of the exhibits attempted to bring the reader or visiter closer to the historical event by weaving a story and presenting familiar items. This method may be a product of the types of items present in the museum, aka heirlooms and local settler history. For the archaeology section, while certainly engaging, the museum wove less of a story and instead laid out the materials side by side with the archaeological science and archaeologist’s bios. In some ways, this distanced the physical material and material history from the viewer. I wonder if this is due to the timescale covered in one small room. Clearly the museum has many more artifacts than it’s able to display, so it was great to talk to the local curator. I hope that most people and groups get that opportunity and see that the archaeological record is incredibly great in the area (which is said in text on the wall but not really represented in physical materials in the archaeology room).
I had a great time on this field trip. It was definitely beneficial to learn more about the habitation history of this area of Minnesota and it will be interesting to go back to Red Wing and talk to the archaeologist there.
Week 1: 4/2/2015
It was incredibly wonderful to walk the arb today. As always, it was great to walk and talk with Nancy Braker in one of her natural habitats. It always astounds me how much she knows and can pull together about history and the Northfield environment and I really enjoyed having prepared some research of our own to add about archaeological sites in the arb. Where ever we end up, it’s going to be a great term.
Week 1: 3/31/2015
After an indoor introductory meeting we headed into the field, or in this case, the lawn behind the Gould Library. There we were able to put to the test some of the surveying techniques we talked about indoors, though I think the final idea to take irregular swatches of ground ended up definitely leaving areas un-surveyed, which was unfortunate. But the practice of implementing a survey, getting out and documenting, was really helpful and a wonderful way to jump right in.
Me and another student were charged with creating the overall survey map of the site behind the Libe, with accurate scale and topography. I really enjoyed this task and found great pleasure in drawing schematics and map of sites, though I definitely wish I had some different colored pens to differentiate the survey paths from other map lines. We were also initially unclear on what the survey map would eventually hold (the survey paths taken by the various teams), so the size of paper we had and some of the topography differentiation we used, i.e cross-hatching, didn’t work out so well in the long run and made the map look overly jumbled. We also didn’t realize there were two groups on the far side of the road, resulting in some last minute map additions on a separate sheet of paper. However, overall I think our map definitely served its purpose and now I know what’s expected of a survey map such as this, which will improve upon my next attempt.
I’m also just super excited about the class in general. The hands on aspect is simply amazing and I’m excited to pull together book reading and field research.