April 7, 2021
During the Lab session on Wednesday April 7th, we explored the lower Cowling Arboretum with Nancy Braker. After departing from the Arb Office, we began by exploring the reconstructed prairie. She discussed how while a reconstructed prairie might contain approximately 80 different varieties of plants it does not approach the 200 species that would be found in a naturally formed prairie.
Further on we approached a murky march that was alive with the chorus of chirping frogs. Nancy described how this location was the safest place for frogs to inhabit and procreate because there were no fish. As we continued, we approached a long elevated dirt path near the old mill. This dike was constructed by humans to regulate water flow from the river during flooding. We considered how such a structure could have been constructed, and what type of labor and materials would have gone into its creation.
We then diverged from the path and headed into the underbrush, arriving upon a stark mossy wall. Nancy asked us to consider if this could be natural or if it was human-constructed. We were relatively split, but I believed that it had to have been constructed due to the sharp angles in the rockface. Alex and Nancy then hypothesized that it was a stone quarry, due to the nature of the breaks and the fact that the type of stone was often used in construction. We then visited the locations of the previous excavations, the Waterford Bridge and the Women’s League Cabin.
April 14, 20201
We began this lab period by gathering the supplies needed to conduct a field survey. These included notebooks in order to mark the finds, bags to collect artifacts, and flag tape to mark the beginning and end corners of the survey. We then proceeded to a field in the upper arb to begin our survey. After placing a strip of pink flag to mark beginning point, we reached walked 20 meters to gauge our paces. It took me approximately 13.5 steps to walk 10 meters. Using this method of measurement, the four field walkers in group C spaced out 10 meters apart while the group leader measured out 100 meters forward. We then began with the field walking.
By the vegetation remains, it was immediately apparent that this was a cornfield. Numerous dried corn husks were visible on the ground, as well as dead plants that were still in the ground. At first it was challenging to discern if there were artifacts left by humans. There were small amounts of bright orange plant matter that appeared artificial but were revealed to be natural under further inspection. In the first section of the fieldwalking, the most notable artifacts were a metal piece and several golf balls. The golf balls were found most commonly on the eastmost side of the field.
As we continued in the second section, the number of golf balls increased dramatically. This is presumably due to the increased proximity to the hitting range across the street. We speculated how the golf balls came to travel such a distance, given its seemingly unrealistic nature. In the final section, the number of golf balls dropped off dramatically, as we had passed the area that was perpendicular to the hitting range. Finally, we sorted all of the artifacts into labeled plastic bags and returned to the lab classroom.