Noah Eckersley-Ray


This week in lab I was part of a small group that went back out to the dike and quarry in order to excavate the dike further. Our goal remains to reach the center of the dike to see if it is made of stone which could prove our hypothesized link between the quarry and the dike. At the beginning of the lab period there was still a long way to go to the center of the dike. We made very good progress but there is still a lot further to dig. We dug much faster on Tuesday than we have in the past in order to make more progress. There were four of us working on the trench, two were digging and two were sifting. We took turns in these jobs and towards the end of the lab period Josh joined us, having completed his task, to help with the excavation. Hopefully the Wednesday group will be able to finish the excavation so that we can learn what is in the center of the dike, if there is anything at all.


This week for lab we stayed in the archaeology lab and worked on documenting all of our finds. We split into different groups of two or three and each group to a bag full of artifacts and did their best to identify the artifacts in the bag. The group that I was in first worked on the cans found during the gridded survey of L10. This included looking up images of old soda and beer cans and trying to identify a time frame that each can was from. We employed the use of toothbrushes in order to try and clean up the cans a bit so that we could reed them. Josh made the observation that the red paint on some cans faded entirely leaving a Coca-Cola can silver and white which had once been red and white. We spent most of the lab period working on the cans from L10 but we also looked into the bullet casing which we discovered is from somewhere between 1912 and 1945. We also looked into a mason jar lid which was hard to identify because mason jar lids have not changed much in the history of mason jars. Part way through class I was tasked with providing the class with music. This was quite a challenge because none of my classmates voiced any opinions on what kind of music they wanted to listen to. Despite this challenge I played music that I enjoyed and no one complained about it to me so I am going to take it as a win.


This week during lab I continued working in the dike excavation group. After trekking back out to the quarry site and the dike we split into groups. This week we brought the sieve with us in order to make the excavation of the dike go faster. Because the dike is so large and the fact that if there are stones in it they would most likely be in the center of the dike, we dug much faster while still trying to be careful. We used shovels and took off more soil at a time this week. By using this method we were able to make really good progress. While digging we made one find which was a bullet casing with “REM-UMC” and “20-25” engraved on the bottom. This was found in context four. Our group did some preliminary research into the bullet out in the field and found that the earliest it could have been made was 1912. This fact is a bit detrimental to our theory that the dike was built along with the mill because the mill was constructed around the 1860s. So far the bullet is our only artifact found in the dike that we can use to date the dike. While working we attempted to find some good archaeology songs and we ranged from contemporary music from Greece to the Beatles and Rolling Stones.


For lab this week we actually had nice weather which was a nice change. We went back to the quarry site and one group continued the excavation of L12. Another group did mapping work and some more surveying. I was part of the group that opened a trench in the dike. It took a little while for us to get started but once we had our spot we made good progress. Our trench is a one by one meter square in the dike around thirty or forty meters from the main trail. We worked with both a trowel and a shovel and by the end of lab had dug about thirty-five centimeters down. All the dirt we dug up we sifted and we found a staple. We had a very interesting conversation with Mary Savina, who describe the differences in the soil with regard to what we had dug so far. Mary identified three different soil compositions. By this time lab was nearly over so we packed everything up and made our way back to the classroom.


This week for lab we continued our work at the quarry. We started an excavation at the site so we had to carry some tools with us. Once we got to the site we broke into three different groups. One that explored and ground truthed a few other potential sites. Another group started excavating L12 and the last group, that I was a part of, surveyed L10. Our survey group decided to first collect everything that we could separating piles by material. As we were doing this it started to rain which was annoying but at least it wasn’t cold. We found a lot of metal cans as well as broken glass bottles and some plastic. During this we also found some cool shells. After we had collected everything we could we sorted the metal cans into piles of cans that had identifying marks and a pile that had no marks. From here we further sorted the cans by brand. We then counted the cans, bottle caps, pull-tabs, and plastic. We bagged good examples of each brand as well as the plastic and caps/pull-tabs. We didn’t have the time to count all the glass so we bagged it all and still have that to do. At this point it was time to head back to the lab where we tagged the bags.


This week for lab we went to the quarry. We started out in the classroom and discussed site survey and where we wanted to conduct a site survey. We agreed to go to the quarry thinking that it would be more interesting and at least a new place for us to go. Having made our decision we walked from the classroom to the quarry site which was just past the Waterford Mill site. We trekked through the woods to the site of the quarry and discussed what our plan would be for the site survey. We split up into different jobs. One small group went out to draw a map and get a better sense of the surrounding area. The rest of us set up our survey areas using a compass and tape measures. With the survey area set with five meter by five meter squares we started surveying. we were only able to complete surveys in three of the squares and start the fourth before it was time to head back to the classroom.


This week we practiced field walking and survey in the upper arb. We met in the archaeology lab in Anderson Hall and it was our first time as an entire lab group meeting in the classroom which was exciting. Alex went over some survey basics and showed us different artifacts collected through surveys both by previous classes and from other sources. We then prepared to head out to the arb by getting bags passed around and clipboards to those who needed them. At this time we looked outside to see that it was snowing. The snow made for a pleasant walk out to the location but after that it was just annoying and cold. Once we got out into our chosen field we practiced pacing in order to be able to know how far ten meters is. The we started our survey. In my transect I found a lot of brick and cement and one metal bottle cap. At the end of the first section we consolidated, bagged, and made notes of everything that we found. Neither of the next two sections turned anything up for our group. After we had finished our survey we walked back to the classroom and got everything sorted. Once that was done we went our separate ways.


I thought that the trek through the arb was a lot of fun. It was a far walk and very hot but the sites were really interesting. I found the mill site and the man made path leading to it to be really interesting. The mill site was the first site that we visited after meeting at the arb office. As we made our way to the mill site it was great to notice the grass turning green and buds on the trees signaling that Spring had truly arrived. At the mill site we learned a bit more about how the previous class had done their class project there. The next site we went to was the bridge way out on the farthest edge of the arb. The fact that the bridge had actually been used for cars was baffling. Next we walked down the road to the Women’s League cabin. The walk on the road was probably the least pleasant part of our lab just because compared to walking in the arb the side of the road is not very interesting. We were all pretty well aware of the history of the Women’s League cabin from previous class discussions and after a quick review we walked to the actual spot of the cabin past a guy just sitting and staring into the distance which was a bit odd. Next we ventured back onto the road and headed to the upper arb where we took a rest and chatted about surveying methods. Then we walked to the location of the post WWII veterans village. After that some of us went to the lab and looked at the artifacts collected at these locations by other methods classes.