Week 4: Discovering the Quarry
Today’s lab began with a discussion about sites and the research questions that drive surveys. After some discussion, we agreed as a class that although perhaps going back to the farmhouse location could yield some details, there probably wasn’t more to be found there. We opted instead to trek further into the arb to find the so-called “quarry” site that the Wednesday lab group had been able to tour but we had not. Although our discussion of these things cut into our actual survey time, we were still able to map and create a grid of the parts of the sites we are focusing on.
Upon completion of the preliminary survey, we found a lot of beer cans from different eras, and a lot of broken glass. One larger cut rock points to the possibility of a structure having stood there in the past. I, however, was not on the hunt for artifacts; I was busy trying to map the general topography of the area somewhat to scale. We determined that the layer with all the beer cans and the campsite-like location is probably the result of digging down into the riverbank side to create this plateau medium layer. There’s a lot of jagged rock that clearly demonstrates human interaction with it, probably to quarry. It was a large endeavor, though, and we suspect the use of dynamite. I found mapping to be interesting, and fitting the map to the scale of the grid was a satisfying moment. I look forward to analyzing the finds of the site!
Transecting in a Winter Wonderland: Ground Surveying Techniques in the Arb
This week we took to a formerly plowed agricultural field to practice ground surveying. We split into two teams that each had three units of the field, as diagrammed below. This allowed precision in recording the location of finds throughout the process. Overall, it was interesting to get a feel for the various techniques used in the survey. We all determined how many natural strides it takes us each to walk ten meters to ensure as close to accurate measurements throughout the process as possible. We used field tape to mark the corners of units to maintain an overall perspective on the survey. We broke the field into segments to prevent too much wandering walking that makes the transects harder to keep track of on the grid.
Although it was cold and snowing and windy and altogether not the greatest of conditions, we did manage to have some finds! Most if not all were concentrated in the A01 region and surrounding areas which makes sense given the prior information that there was once a farmhouse or structure near there. Thus, the high density of tile and brick in that area is very logical. There wasn’t much else in the whole rest of the field, which points to either a lot of soil movement over time or a very efficient clean up job from the house demolition. There wasn’t much trash in the field either, which, perhaps this is just because I’m from a city, was very reassuring as I was somehow expecting more litter and recent trash than anything else.
Week 2: The Arb Walk
Our lab focused on a series of locations within the Arb that have already been the subject of various previous studies. Our first site was that of a late 19th century mill. Although the bulk of the remains were across the river, it was interesting for a few reasons. The first being how the current changed around the little rock island in the middle of the river. In class we discussed that this is due to the dam built there for the mill. Although it hasn’t stood for over a century, the mill still affects its ecological surroundings. I also found it interesting the amount of material left there over time. I had assumed that all would have been reused in other industrial endeavours, but I guess some of the ruins were deemed unusable or unproductive to reuse.
The other highlight of the tour was the Women’s League Cabin. The most striking part of this stop was the walk into the trail through the sea of blue flowers, just now blooming for spring. The trail takes you up and down a series of two or three steps that I can imagine were original to the building. The more you brush around the ground on the trail, especially once you get to the opening, the more evident the foundation like stones are. Nature hasn’t disposed of the cinder blocks; it merely has taken them over.
The last step of the tour, the site of the veterans quarters, was also interesting. I was fascinated by the fire hydrant that seems to be dated in the 1960’s, which, to me, contradicts the hypothesis that it was built with the housing quarters, which were built in the 1940’s. Despite the heat throughout the walk and the length of the whole affair, it was very worthwhile to get a better sense of the history present just a walk away from my dorm.