Neil Givens

Week 9: 5/25/21

The lab group was split in two today, with one group tasked with continuing the Millpond Dike trench and the other staying in the building. I was part of the group that stayed in the lab, where we were supposed to finish up artifact analysis and work on our final projects. First, I worked through several bags of unidentifiable glass shards. I washed each, checking for any discernable markings, before entering the data into the spreadsheet. After I catalogued these bags of glass, I switched to working on my final project. My project centers around relating the artifacts found at the quarry to student social life in the arb, so I was interested by the beer cans that were found. Some of these had been assigned manufacturing dates that I thought were questionable, so I spent most of my time re-dating artifacts that had been already been researched. Most of the time, I found new sources that the original students did not find, which allowed me to find much more specific dates. This research will be very helpful with my project, as I need artifacts that have narrow date ranges. I am now well setup to finish my project.

Glass similar to the lots that I sorted.

Week 8: 5/18/21

Today we attempted to identify and date the items that we had collected through our field survey, gridded survey, and excavations. My group decided to focus on the cans found in L10 at the quarry site. There were several cans that were in great condition, and these proved fairly easy to identify. We did find that the color red did not preserve as well as other colors, this led to some confusion when identifying some of these cans. There were also a number of cans that were very rusted and much harder to identify. On one can we eventually found an image of a small bison, which led us identifying it as a Schmidt beer can. Another can was only identifiable from a slightly raised design that was visible through the rust. These rusted cans took us a while to date, as we first had to find something distinguishable before searching the internet for a date range. After these cans we moved on to a large ham tin. It seemed like the tin would be the easy, due to its large size and visible patterning. However, it proved difficult to date, due to the company having gone out of business long ago. I also catalogued the bullet casing that I found in the lab last week.

Week 7: 5/11/21

The goal of our lab today was to finish the excavations that we had started. There was one trench at the quarry site where we had not yet hit bedrock, and at the Millpond Dike we had not achieved our mission of discovering if it had a rock foundation. I was put on the team tasked with continuing to dig the dike trench until we discovered a foundation, or a lack there of. The trench was started in week six, but was it was being meticulously excavated far too slowly. We decided that our team was going to need to excavate much faster in order to have any chance of reaching the bottom of the dike. In order to do this, the wall of the dike was removed so that the hole could be dug more easily. With this wall out of the way, the digging was much easier, giving us hope of reaching the bottom. My job on this team was sifting the dirt that was dug out of the trench. I moved the full buckets of dirt down the dike to our sifter, where Emmy and I worked together to process the soil. Our sifter had 1/4″ holes, with the aim of finding anything that may have been left by humans while constructing the dike. In all of the 20 – 30 buckets of dirt that Emmy and I sieved, our only find was a bullet casing engraved with “REM – UMC 25 – 20,” pictured below. We ran a quick internet search and found that that the casing had to be from at least 1912. We eventually left the dike with our only find and an incomplete trench, with hopes that we could hit the foundation on a future date.

Bullet casing found in Millpond Dike trench.

Week 6: 5/4/21

Unfortunately I was absent from this lab because I was injured over the weekend and was still recovering. After taking a blow to the head, I was ordered by the doctor to rest in bed and abstain from all physical activity. I decided that hiking out to the quarry site and possibly digging a trench was likely too much physical activity, and I thought it would be better for my health to not attend.

Week 5: 4/27/21

Today in lab we split into several groups to further our research on the possible quarry site. Two of the groups worked on the start of the excavation process in two different parts of the site, one at a rock formation and one at the most heavily used part of the site. While my lab mates were undertaking this excavation effort, I was assigned to a ground truthing team. Our goal was to establish the greater scale of the site, while also looking for possible other places that the site interacted with. To do this, we examined the LIDAR map and found four locations of interest where it seemed possible that anthropogenic processes affected the landscape. We set off in search of the first location, which was probably less than 100 meters away from our primary site. This location shared a lot of similarities with the possible quarry, as it too was a cutout from the hillside that did not seem to be formed through erosion. It featured what appeared to be a pile of rocks about a meter high with a divot in the middle, making me think the rock pile was manmade. No trash was found at this location, and it was smaller than the primary site, suggesting that it was possible an auxiliary quarry. From here we got back on the trail and hiked north to the next signature on the LIDAR map. This was the largest feature on the LIDAR that we were tasked to investigate, making it fairly easy to find. This site turned out to be a gully which seemed to be naturally formed, although we did find a number of bottle that were likely from the mid 20th century in the gully.

We decided to explore the area a little more and stumbled on a trash dump on the side of the ravine. The dump contained a large assortment of materials, from brick and sheet metal to porcelain and cans. We hypothesized that this may have been formed from a local dumping their trash in the Arboretum while the area was in disuse and not under maintenance. We then headed south to another fairly large signature on the LIDAR. After talking to the Arboretum director we learned that the site was also a likely quarry for the nearby mill, but that Carleton and destroyed the site due to safety concerns. Although we found the site, we were unable to get close due to thick foliage, and found nothing of interest. The last place we examined was at the end point of the millpond dike, which appeared on the LIDAR as a signature similar to the one seen at the possible quarry site. This also appeared to be a natural formation, and nothing anthropogenic was found at the location. In total, we looked at four different places, with two of them likely having ties to our primary site, and additionally found a trash dump that is probably unrelated.

Week 4: 4/20/21

On this day we found a project to focus on. Originally the plan was to further study the place of our field survey, the demolished farm house. However, after some members of my lab voiced their dissent, we changed our focus to a possible quarry in the Arb. We set off to find the quarry, which none of us had been to before. After some searching, we found the location of the possible quarry, with it appearing as a cutout from the hill above the floodplain of the Cannon River. The site had many cans and bottles scattered around, but it was not immediately clear whether quarrying actually occurred there or not. While some members of my lab were assigned to scout and map the area, I was tasked with laying gridlines to divide the site into manageable sections for examination.

The sectioning of the site was more difficult than it may sound. With trees and thick brush around, the measuring tape was difficult to lead in a straight flat line across the area. Additionally, a large slope is present on the side of the site, which led to issues creating perfectly square regions, as the slope distorted the distances being measured. The area was divided into 16 squares that were all 5×5 meters long. This means that the whole area that we squared off was 20×20 meters. Other members of my lab did preliminary artifact collection, searching the area for anything anthropogenic that was lying on the surface. We left the most regions with the heaviest density of artifacts for later, as we did not have enough time to collect from those regions. With my team of three completing the gridding of the site, and my other lab members finishing their tasks, we headed back to the lab room with our artifacts.

Week 2: 4/13/21

The focus of the lab on this Tuesday was to gain surveying experience by fieldwalking. We chose a field in the Upper Arboretum to conduct a field survey on. With the space chosen, we examined satellite images and LiDAR maps in the classroom to get an understanding of where we might find items of interest. We identified an area on the LiDAR map that appeared to show an area of terraformed ground that lined up with where a farmhouse used to be. With this information, we headed out to the Arboretum to the location of the field. Here, we practiced our pacing to discover how many of our steps approximated 10 meters. Then we divided into two survey groups, with my group being tasked with surveying the north part of the field, and the second group being assigned the southern portion. From here, we divided the field into 6 transects that were 50 m by 100 m, allowing each group to take three of these sections to cover the whole field.

With everything organized, and armed with bags to collect our finds, we set off to walk our lines. Each person on the team was 10 meters away from the next person, with each person covering a 2 meter wide region. We slowly progressed through the field, while being assailed by snow and strong winds. We found a number of bricks and concrete in the first part of the first section that we surveyed. After about the first 30 meters, our finds tapered off, and after the first of the three regions we found nothing. The other group did not find the bricks and cement that we did, and instead only found two artifacts during the entire survey. After collecting our finds we labelled them by survey section and group, separating our objects by type of material. With the field surveyed, we retreated from the elements back to the lab, were we once again catalogued our finds, in order to make sure we did not lose anything. Our survey of the field backed up our idea of a farmhouse existing in the north-east corner of the field, as this was where we found all of the building materials.

Week 1: 4/6/21

In lab on April 6, 2021, we had the goal of touring the Cowling Arboretum in order to visit several archaeologically notable sites. First we met at the Arboretum office and walked north to the site of the old Waterford Mill that was demolished due to disuse. Little remained of the once important mill. Then, we followed the Cannon River north-east to the Waterford Bridge, which was a large steel bridge that was used until the 1990s when it was closed to vehicular traffic. From there, we walked south along Canada Ave past several residences until turning back into the Arb. We quickly entered the Arb and found the site of the demolished Women’s League Cabin that was built in the 1930s but later demolished due to it being unsafe for the amount of use it was receiving. We left the Arboretum and went back to Canada Ave before continuing to Division Street, which we walked down until reaching the Upper Arboretum. Here, we turned onto Spring Creek Road before finally turning west back towards campus. We walked across the fields above the Rec Center until we were right above Goodhue Dormitory. This was the location of temporary housing for veterans returning to Carleton after fighting in World War II. This was the last stop in the Arboretum tour, which ended at this point.