During our Wednesday lab we went on a lovely hike in the Arb. We were able to visit a ton of interesting sites including an old mill and an interesting rock formation. The hike was a great introduction into both the archaeological and ecological history which will help us orient ourselves as we begin to choose sites.
I was fascinated by the ecological history and the land reclamation process. I thought the pragmatic motivation of maintaining the scenery around Carleton was an interesting motive for the Arb before environmental concerns came into play. It was exciting to see the various experiments going on. I would love to learn about ways in which ecological history could be unearthed. It was amazing to see how much care is put into maintaining such a beautiful and ecologically responsible space.
Our visit to the mill was the most exciting and intact site we viewed. There were a lot of interesting features and while the ruins of the original building was the center point there were interesting formations all around the river with how the dam affected the landscape. I thought it was really interesting that the changes in the river flow were visible on Google Maps.
The interesting rock formation we saw could be an interesting survey site. I would love to learn more about how the rock face shows signs of human geological processes.
This week we preformed a preliminary survey of a portion of land past the Hill of Three Oaks. This field is near to a driving range which was apparent in our finds as we quickly began to compete to see who could find more golf balls. We split into two groups and each group surveyed three 50m by 100m segments called transects. Within these transects there were four walkers, each ten meters apart and surveying the two meters to either side of them. This spacing and limiting is meant to ensure that finds are representative of the space rather than exhaustive. It also allows for more equal results between the naturally meticulous and those less so.
My transect team found mostly golf balls which was fun, but only diagnostic of the most obvious neighbors of our college. I was able to find one of two pieces of ceramic in the field, which was exciting. There was only on other, so it may be difficult to ascertain more data. Some shells were found which could be evidence of transplanting or little creatures. It was great to get some experience going through this type of surveying even if our finds were lackluster and discourage further exploration.
This week I did the weekly summary alongside Lucille and Connor, so I spent extra time taking pictures and talking to my colleagues about what they were working on.
Lucille and Ella worked with Sam to start of process of GPS mapping the terrain and getting acquainted with the general landscape. They were able to mark the corners of each survey unit which will allow for incredibly granular mapping.
The rest of us worked on doing a grid survey. This is done in pairs, with on person searching for ground artifacts and the other recording. I was working in K12 with Kalju and we found a fair amount of glass but not as many as neighboring grid squares. I was in charge of sketching out our grid section and making sure an accumulations artifact and important feature were marked. I found this useful as we had a slope in our transect, and it was useful to draw it so we remembered the way the feature impacted our surveying.
This preliminary mode of survey was useful in getting semi-rigorous data and a better understanding of the area. There was a lot of glass found and many, many beverage cans. There were some rock formation that may not be natural, and these may warrant further exploration.
Today was excavation day 1!!! I was tasked with continuing the GPS mapping of the area and exploring more the larger landscape. We tagged points in a line running across the lower edge of the survey area as well as half of the ridge that run above it. We also tagged the excavation grid started by the Tuesday lab and submitted that. Next week after post processing we will be able to see hyper detailed information about the topography of the area and these site specifically.
By getting this GPS information we will able to explore things topographically with less the a couple centimeter of error. This will enable more legible graphics and better display of data as well as analysis in the larger scheme of things. This data will help a lot with determining whether there was any human intervention in the formation of this site.
The GPS work took a long time, and it looked like the other teams got a lot of work done on a second excavation and working on cleaning the rock formation we have been looking at.
This week we continued our work excavating while in class we looked at the different theoretical frameworks used in interpretation.
I am a big critical theory junky, so this week was very fun for me. It was interesting to see the different ways in which interpretive theories developed in archaeology as compared to other disciplines. It was nice to see the class grappling with some of the assumption they operate with and realizing the shortcoming that are involved with any approaches. I enjoyed talking about the granular and intense aspect of interpretation, because I think the stakes are really high. Modes of interpretation of interpret the political outcomes of excavations and findings, and I believe that having a responsible approach to theory is vital to good scholarship
In lab this week I was excavating Trench 2 at the quarry. I think we got past most of the glass so we did not have many findings, but we did open up a new two new contexts to explore. The first is more clay and the seconds was evidence of a firepit. The other groups began working on excavating the dyke, they have not found anything yet, but the further they dig the more clear it will be what was used to construct the dyke. Scout and Sam finished up the mapping Cecilia and I did last week.
This week we continued to finish up the excavation of Trench 2 at the quarry and the Millpond dyke. These are two spots of interest that may tell us a lot about the area. We were trying to define the boundaries of a campfire pit in Trench 2 and to determined the construction of the dyke. We decided to change of excavation techniques to do both of these tasks, being more liberal and a little bit less meticulous.
There was one more project going on in lab as well, as a group of students began cleaning of the surface dirt and debris from the quarry wall, allowing us to see how the quarry was actually exploited.
Working on Trench 2 we continued to find a lot of glass and metal. There was a portion which had a different soil type that we paid close attention to as a unique context, but it turned out to not have many findings. This may be meaningful however, as it could show new soil or a spot where there was not debris. Figuring out the expanse of the firepit is going well, but it a little difficult since one side seems to have spread. I think it is because of a slight slope that could have caused some natural, minor movement. We have gotten a little bit of the top soil of and are trying be careful not to disturb too much of the feature.
This week was our first week in the lab! We got started going through the artifact analysis and “lotting.”
Lotting is the process of assigning groups of object into the most exact group based on determinability and diagnosticity. This process is about making sure that like diagnostic objects are all together and that we are breaking things down into to separate, distinct groups as is logical.
For my group, this was mostly about identifying the markings on the bottom of glass bottles. This process involved using an online database of manufacturing symbols as well as paying attention to certain regulatory markings that would indicating different federal regulations that are also time specific. The logos typically correspond with a certain manufacturing site and time period. The regulatory notices and symbols relate to specific time periods based on the current legislation on bottle and alcohol sales and production.
Lucille, Ella and I went through several context bags from Trench 2. We had to clean a lot of glass shards to ensure we were not missing any important information. We the split them into groups and looked for marks that could be diagnostic. Lucille took the lead on going through the diagnostic materials while Ella and I took the lead on documenting our finds. We split things into lots and photographed them to ensure that things could be retraced. We found a lot of diagnostic bottle bottoms but not everything was traceable. This will be very helpful in establishing chronology.
It was nice to do artifact work since that is what my final project is on. I look forward to finishing up this site!
This week our lab group was split between the lab and the field. The people who went into the field focused on getting to the bottom of the Millpond dyke excavation while the lab people completed the artifact cataloging.
I was cataloging that last few fins bags and getting ready to go into my final project. I got several bags done but there were not many diagnostic pieces to chase information for this time. There was also a lot of data already collected that help place most thing chronologically. I then moved to work on my final and made several spread sheets to show distribution, chronology and a variety of other helpful things for our site analysis. This week was pretty productive and good for our group. Lucille and I look forward to turning in our first draft soon!