Cecilia Ehrlichman

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, 2021

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.  

April 21, 2021

This Wednesday April 21st, our lab group conducted a survey at the suspected quarry site in the lower arb. The Tuesday lab group had previously begun the mapping process, so members of our section continued by adding additional survey units. Other members of the group used scanning data in order to subsequently reconstruct the rock face.

My role was to conduct a survey in unit K10. It was the unit directly adjacent to the unit containing the major garbage deposition including many rusted cans and broken bottles. We surveyed the ground, displacing leaves and brush on the ground while leaving the soil and major trees and logs undisturbed. Given our proximity to the deposition, we found large amounts of glass shards. We were also able to obtain diagnostic evidence. We found the bases and lips of several bottles that contained writing. Additionally, some of the cans that we discovered had discernible logos and lettering. I was interested in possibly reassembling a broken glass bottle in order to gain more information regarding its shape and structure.

Finally, we also discovered a Halls wrapper. We speculated about whether this would have been deposited during one of the same events that left traces of alcohol consumption, and if this could have any implications about the nature of the event.

April 28, 2021

This Wednesday, April 28th was the first day of excavations. We divided up into three groups, one group attempted to clean the rock face, a second group dug an excavation trench and the third continued with the mapping.

I was in the mapping group. We began by collecting location data for the corners of the trench that was dug by the Tuesday Lab group. While examining this trench we came to the conclusion that it was a natural formation and not the result of human activity. We observed the tree roots disrupting the rock and the way the formation was broken it seemed to be along natural lines and not the clearly defined shapes of breaks that were created by humans.

We then continued with the mapping, beginning along the lower ridge. We marked the first coordinate as lower ridge north and then began progressing along the edge. After completing this ridge, we continued on to the edge of the rockface where we continued to measure elevation data. The third ridge that we tracked was the upper ridge above the quarry site. Including these three locations can give us more information about the site in order to see if the changes in elevation could be indicated by natural process or human activity.

May 5, 2021

This Wednesday, May 5th, was the second day of excavation. One group continued with the excavation trench in L10, one group added more points to the DGPS map data, and my group excavated a trench in the millpond dike.

The Tuesday group had opened the trench the day before, and had already removed the majority of context one. We continued removing and sifting context one while using trowels to clean up the edges and make the stratigraphy more apparent. Context one was primarily composed of a darker soil with some light colored sand mixed in. Context two was a reddish brown sand that was also combined with some darker soil.

After we finished removing context two, we uncovered context three, which was an even darker and richer soil than the topsoil. However, something we noticed is that context two extended under context three in certain locations. Our conjecture for the formation of this site, is that a variety of different types of soil were transported to this location and laid on top of one another. This means that the contexts may not be aligned in a simple stratigraphy.

While it was edifying to carefully separate each context from the dike, it is likely that we will dig more quickly in next week’s lab. Our goal in excavating this structure is to observe its foundation and answer the research question of whether stones from the quarry site were used as part of the building materials.

May 12, 2021

During the Lab on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, I continued with excavating the millpond dike. The Tuesday Lab section had dug further and had uncovered several more contexts. However, we had only managed to dig one meter down into the trench. On Wednesday we were able to make a little more progress. We did not do a precise excavation with trowels and pans, rather we used a method of scraping layers of earth off the ground with a square-tipped shovel. The hypothesis about the core of the dike being created with stones from the quarry site is still unresolved, as we were unable to approach the foundation of the dike.

While sifting the soil from the trench, we did not find any artifacts. However, there were certain lumps in the soil that contained lighter sandy-toned soil. This gives us information on how the ground fill was installed because the layers of different types of soil that were used to build the dike were chosen by the people who created it. Whether we continue this excavation and answer our hypothesis, excavating this trench in the dike allowed us to examine soil stratigraphy in a real-world context and observe the layers that went into the construction of the millpond dike.  

Trench in the Millpond Dike after our excavation

May 19, 2021

During the lab period on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, we cleaned sorted, and analyzed the finds from the previous days. We were addressing the finds from the gridded survey unit K10. We began by cleaning the glass finds by polishing them with a toothbrush and water. Then we categorized them into several different lots. One lot encompassed all the clear glass body pieces, one contained a brown glass body piece, one contained the clear glass bottle rims, and each clear glass bottom had its own lot because they contained unique diagnostic evidence. After categorizing the glass, we proceeded to the metal finds. We did not clean the metal finds with water, in order to prevent future rusting. Instead, we simply used the toothbrushes to clean any excess soil. These were then categorized. Most were distinct so had their own categories, but we did sort the pull tabs into one category. Finally, the final type of material was a halls wrapper that contained motivational quotes.

After we cleaned and sorted, we documented each item on the spreadsheet. We noted the number of artifacts, the type, the material, and visual details including lettering and inscriptions. We then began the next stage of analysis, conducting research in order to place the items chronologically. One object that stood out for containing diagnostic evidence was a TAB bottle cap. We discovered that it was originally red, but the pigment faded to orange. By researching different logo designs over the years, we found that this cap was made between 1967 and 1968. This leads us to believe one of the events that formed this site took place during that time. This is consistent with other evidence that we found in this grid square. For example, there were several cans and can tabs that used the pull tab system to open the cans. This design was used between the years 1965-1975. A third item that we knew was at the site were Coke cans with Dimond labels which were produced between 1966 and 1970. However, there are other finds at this location that are in later timeframes. This implies that there was likely an event in 1967 or 1968, but also subsequent parties that occurred at later dates.

TaB Bottle Cap dated to 1967-68

May 26, 2021

This Wednesday, May 26, 2021, was the second day of artifact cleaning and categorizing. I categorized several pieces of glass from the survey units and some pieces of plastic. I used a similar method as last week to clean them. First, I submerged each piece in water and then I removed any excess soil with a toothbrush. Then I entered information about each one onto the spreadsheet including what lot it belonged in, the material, and defining characteristics of the objects.

This only necessitated the first half of the lab period, so in the second half, I continued to work on my final project, which is creating photogrammetry objects. I brought in a DSLR camera in an attempt to have a wider depth of focus. I retook photos of the fishhook and the bullet, but it was still challenging to make sure they were clearly in focus because of their minute size. I had some difficulty rendering these images, so perhaps I will try again and take more photos at a later date.

The toothbrush used to clean the artifacts

Silver Can by ehrlichmanc on Sketchfab