This week’s Tuesday lab consisted of a guided tour around the Arb led by MJ, and then a quick look around the Archaeology Lab in Anderson (with its much-appreciated air-conditioning). While most of the time was spent walking and getting to know some of my classmates, it was also spent getting a better idea of where the important sites in the Arb are and the general geography of the area. The first site we visited was Waterford Mill, which is currently just a few remaining stone structures on the edge of the Cannon River. We talked briefly about how it was one of two mills, and how it was demolished once it was no longer in use. Next we made our way to the Waterford Bridge, which we appreciated from a distance before heading out. The next site of interest was the Women’s League Cabin, which after some searching we found the trail to. We discussed its use first as a place for women on campus to gather to do activities like knitting, and then later as a party spot before it was declared unsafe and demolished. Before heading back towards campus and our final site, we took a break and talked about conducting field surveys around the Arb. Finally, we stopped at the site of the Veteran’s Housing and looked at the remaining posts that are still left over. A few of us then went with MJ back to the lab, where we were able to see some of the artifacts discovered by previous iterations of this class, as well as some mysterious pottery that was recently donated with very little information on where exactly it was from, other than “Israel”. It’s interesting to me just how many of the significant sites are located around the edge of the Arb. Natural barriers like the river, the road, and Carleton itself tend to lend themselves to being places for construction, unlike the more central parts of the Arb, which would be harder to access.
This week, the Tuesday lab group braved the snow to practice conducting a field survey on one of the fields out behind the rec in the Cowling Arboretum. We started out by meeting up in the classroom/lab, and looking at both satellite images of the fields we were planning to survey and LIDAR images. While the satellite image didn’t give us much aside from the difference between plowed and unplowed field, looking carefully at the LIDAR allowed us to see what looked to be a rectangular area that had been artificially flattened, right about where an old farmhouse used to be. After a brief discussion about survey teams, we gathered our supplies and headed out into the cold. Once we arrived at our chosen field, we counted how many paces we took over 10 meters for measuring the distance between team members, and divided ourselves into teams. I was among the members of the first team/group A, who probably lucked out, because the area we ended up surveying was on top of the old farmhouse, and we were able to find several bags worth of artifacts, as well as some too big to remove. In addition to being a survey team member, I was also on the end of the team, which meant that I was in charge of flagging the edges of our area. This task was especially helpful when it came to walking in a straight line, as I could always look back to see the bright pink flag behind me. Most of our finds came in the first 40 or so meters of our 100 meter long area. I found 6 broken bricks, 1 small white piece of ceramic, a piece of glass, and a full quarter of a cinder block that was too big to collect. We stopped for a while to catalogue our finds and sort them into well-labeled bags. After the first stretch, we did not find anything else, so the walking became a bit less interesting, but everything progressed significantly faster. Once we finally made it to the end of the field, as the flagger, I had to walk all the way back and collect the flags we had left behind. We stopped for a little while longer to gather up our finds, and then hurried back to the warmth of Anderson Hall and the classroom. Once there, we placed all of our finds into a box, leaving the ziplock bags open so they could air out, and made sure that all our documentation was in order, before heading our separate ways.
The Tuesday lab group began by discussing potential research questions involved with the farmhouse site that we had previously surveyed. However, most of the class quickly began to feel like there weren’t that many more answers, and the allure of the mysterious quarry site was much stronger. So, we set out towards the quarry with some preliminary questions in mind: Was this in fact a significant site within the Arb? And would we be able to find proof that this site was man-made? We made it to the site and were pleased to find a large amount of discarded beer cans from multiple eras, proving to us that this site was worth some degree of investigation. The rock face was a bit more difficult to find obvious human interference on, but we nevertheless split into teams to begin the grid survey. A small group went out to map out the larger area, and the rest of us stayed behind to establish the grid, which we decided would have 5m by 5m squares and run in the north-south direction. Once we finished flagging out the squares, we split into teams to surface survey each square (except for the one with the main trash dump, since we needed more practice before undertaking that task). Sophia and I worked together on grid unit L12, which, at first glance, did not have anything significant. However, due to the amount of leaf litter and branches in our square, we quickly realized that we would need to do a lot of moving leaves in order to get an idea of what was within our square. In the end, we found one plastic comb, 4 pieces of glass from a glass bottle, and most exciting, a stone formation built into the ground that had a clear corner structure. We documented and bagged the glass and plastic, and drew out the corner structure and photographed it. By the time we finished carefully surveying our grid unit, time was almost up, so we all gathered together and headed back to the lab.
In the end, we found that we had answered our initial questions. It is pretty certain that this site was used, at the very least as a dumping ground/drinking spot, and possibly as a quarry and location of some other structure. Its proximity to the Waterford Mill and Millpond Dike also lend credit to the idea that it could be involved with other significant sites. The questions still remain as to what exactly this site was used for and when, and I am certainly excited to see what else we can find in our continued investigations.