This page collects the weekly blog posts written by students over the course of fieldwork during the 2017 field season.
Posts appear in descending chronological order, with the most recent post appearing at the top of the page.
2017 Field Season (Pine Hill Village)
- Week 10 Summary
Tuesday was our last archaeology class, and with finals fast approaching, everyone was busy putting the finishing touches on their final projects. Before breaking into our project groups, we discussed how to store our Pine Hill finds as a class. Once we had established how to store the artifacts (carefully put away in labeled plastic containers to be kept in Alex’s office), we broke into our groups to work on our final projects.
Later in the class period, we reconvened as a class to figure out how to close up shop. We broke into different groups, including general storage (tasked with putting away equipment and artifacts), site care (tasked with backfilling the trenches and cleaning up our survey grid), and information (tasked with organizing reports and paper records). The cleanup went surprisingly fast, and by the time we were done, the Arb Office looked like it had during week one. It was quite the feat.
Alex ordered us Domino’s pizza to celebrate the end of term. Everyone rejoiced over the progress we had made on our research of Pine Hill. It’s safe to say that we’re all proud of the work we’ve done this term, and that we’ve gotten a real taste of what it’s like to be archaeologists.
Our Curation Plan: After reading a roundtable on conservation in an archaeology journal (Kersel et. al 2015), we reflected on our current storage situation. Like examples brought to bear in the roundtable, we too were faced with the issue of finding space to store these artifacts and storing them in a way that ensures their preservation for future classes to examine. One solution proposed in the roundtable and in our discussion was to return some artifacts, such as the chunks of asphalt and concrete, to the site to ease space constraints. The point was raised, however, that reburying these finds would hinder the work of future classes if they chose to continue working on Pine Hill Village. For this reason, as well as the possibility of a library exhibition featuring our artifacts in the future, we decided to keep all artifacts. It was additionally helpful that we remembered that the construction of the new science commons with an archaeology will easily accommodate our finds from this project as well as future ones.
Several steps needed to be taken before the artifacts could be stored though. Firstly, we needed to double check that all artifacts had been documented and sorted correctly by context to minimize inconveniences for future investigators. To address these needs, Nicole Connell and others spent the last part of the period proofreading the master spreadsheet of all of our collected artifacts and making sure the shared class google drive folder. Only then could each artifact be packed in its plastic bag and carefully placed, so as to ensure its continued preservation, in their respective plastic storage tub along with the original excavation survey sheet on which it was first documented.
Site Care: While we as archaeologists always carry an ethical obligation to make our projects environmentally sustainable, we’re especially obligated to care for the Pine Hill Village site as it is part of an arboretum. In the weeks since we stopped excavating, most of our work site became overgrown with dense foliage. It was, however, plainly apparent where our excavation scarred the land. To correct this, we backfilled all of our trenches from the nearby dirt piles and removed all traces of our grid survey. Trench 2 was relatively simple since it was so shallow, but trench 1 and 3 were deep enough that they required the backfilled soil to be tamped down to slow erosion. Additionally, before the backfilling began, we placed a piece of plastic at the bottom of trenches 1 and 2 so that future excavators may know precisely where our excavation ended.
- Week 9 Summary
This week’s Archaeology lab centered on Community Archaeology Day, led by students focusing on outreach for their final project. The outreach group invited members of the Carleton and greater Northfield communities to visit the site of our fieldwork and our classroom to learn more about our study of Pine Hill Village.
Each group took time to speak with community members about their respective projects, with visitors as diverse as Northfield locals to Carleton faculty and staff, including Dean of the College Beverly Nagel. Some of the Community Archaeology Day visitors made the trek to the Pine Hill Village site despite rainy weather, others remained in the classroom.
In the field––or, right behind Goodhue Hall––several students set up a station next to the class’s primary excavation trench. Students shared their excavation experiences and findings with Community Archaeology Day visitors, highlighting each of the trenches, and other sites of interest. Professor Alex Knodell helped several students put up a tarp to shield the Pine Hill Village site from the rain, under which they displayed on a table several photos from the site, including the building plan and historical aerial photographs. Students also removed protective tarps from the other trenches, which they also showed the visitors.
Those outside were joined by the only two students doing field work, Joey Castaneda and Eric Biddulph-West, who were working on their final project. Joey and Eric are making models of the site using a modern photo stitching technique called Photogrammetry. They took multiple photos of each of the trenches which will be uploaded and collated through a computer program to create interactive 3D models of the trenches to share with the general public, and despite the rain and cold could not be deterred.
Nevertheless, much of the Community Archaeology Day activity took place indoors due to the rainy weather. Students indoors worked in several groups split by research interest, including an oral history group and two artifact analysis groups. Of the two artifact analysis groups, one focused on cataloguing, inspecting, and interpreting artifacts, while the other worked with ArcGIS software to map the findings.
While each respective group had previously submitted projections of what their final projects would feasibly look like, as well as the work entailed, the work conducted in class allowed groups to develop a better sense of what could actually be accomplished within the allotted timeframe. Professor Knodell fortunately devoted the entirety of class time on Thursday to final project work and checked in to see where we were and how he could be of help.
Spotlight on Oral History Group: This particular group initially sought to conduct between 10-12 interviews with alumni who lived in Pine Hill Village during their time at the College. After reaching out to potential interviewees via email and phone call, however, and receiving no response, the group decided to modify their project by favoring more in-depth interviews with a handful of Carleton people who had some connection to the Pine Hill Village era, whether they attended the College at the time of its existence or were descendants of its residents. In addition, the oral historians published on the class website rough drafts of content that they plan to polish and submit for their final project.
As we head into the final week of the term, it is interesting to witness the diverse, interdisciplinary methods that our class is using to blend the physical aspects of our work this term with the humanistic aspect of archaeology: the formulation of narratives behind excavated artifacts. It is looking like our final projects will be thought-provoking, relatable to community members on and off campus, and above all, accessible. Recent class discussions and assigned readings have focused on the importance of making archaeological fieldwork understandable to those outside academia. In the end, we will have succeeded if our audience understands our signs, maps, models, artifact analyses, interviews, and historiography.
- Week 8 Summary
This week during lab we moved out of the field and back into the classroom and began to examine the artifacts that we have collected over the past several weeks. First, we divided into groups to cover materials from each of our major areas of focus: field survey, grid survey, shovel test pits, and excavation trenches. It was important to ensure that there was at least one person from the project group focusing on artifacts and material history in each group. From there, we chose our groups, with two groups concentrating on grid survey and one group for each of the other areas.
This is the beginning of the recording stage. We would need to identify all of our materials in a Google document including information on their type, quantity, location, and lot. We created folders for each location (trench, STP, grid survey, and field survey) within which we made a sheet formatted for us to record each and every artifact found. We entered each item into the document, ordering them numerically and alphabetically and ensuring that bags remained correctly labeled. Each group made a detailed catalog of each and every artifact that was found and recorded the collection unit, lot, material, quantity, typology, use and function as well as a description of each piece of artifact.
Next, it was time to get a closer look at our materials. Groups opened up their bags to identify the artifacts and begin researching materials. Our goal was to learn what we could about our finds. Several items needed to be cleaned and dried to be clearly seen. These we removed from bags, washed off, and placed on trays. We created scales and labels and photographed each item for our records.
When we had finished the recording process, some groups began researching their items. For example, the excavation group put together pieces of glass that they found in Trench 1, context 3 and it turned out to be some form of a glass serving tray. The group researched what type of glass that might be to try and figure out what the tray was and did not find out much about it but the research is underway. Different types of building materials that include many different types of brick were found, along with blocks of asphalt. Other groups also researched different types of building materials that they found, pieces of glass, bones and a lot of other types of discoveries and findings. It is safe to say that by the end of the week, the recording process was complete for the most part and groups are now in the research and analysis stage of recording and recovering meaning from the artifacts and materials found.
- Week 7 Summary
This week, we continued fieldwork on the Pine Hill Village site. The class was separated into groups that were focused on: excavation of trenches, shovel test pits, mapping, and survey check. Before class, we assigned people to the various tasks.
We had three groups doing excavation this week. Trench 1 and 2 continued at the fire hydrant and rubble pile.
Trench 3 was added at the site of a shovel test pit from last week. Students discovered concrete when they were digging. This feature was the focus of Trench 3. The group at Trench 3 created a 1×1 meter grid and began by clearing vegetation and sifting dirt. After realizing there was still a lot of plants and roots, the group focused on expanding the trench downward as much as possible and then began sifting more. They found asphalt, glass, a rusted nail, a piece of chalk, and a yellow marble. The group also exposed the feature, which they concluded was a concrete post hole. At the end of the day, the group had dug about 1.5 feet down.
At Trench 1, the group continued deepened the trench by several inches. The group found pieces of thick glass and an old-fashioned bottle opener, as well as glass shards which seem to be from alcohol containers. They uncovered an additional flagstone in the northeast corner of the trench and exposed the previous ones more. The group reached a depth of 7 inches. Group members seem excited about the findings and are looking forward to more carefully analyzing the many artifacts that they have found over the past few weeks.
At Trench 2, the group focused on the southern side of the trench, which included the rubble pile. The group was able to deepen the trench by several inches. They uncovered additional pieces of pottery and wire, asphalt and concrete, and glass shards. Near the end of the day the soil began to have lighter, clay-like sections. This most likely a new context, which was uncovered in the shovel test pits. Some group members focused on digging in the trench, while others focused on sifting dirt. The group dug about 6 inches deep, by the end of the day.
There were 8 new shovel test pits inside the survey grid this week. Groups dug holes about the length of a shovel and about a foot wide.The STPs were in the middle of the survey units to see if there was anything else to be discovered, besides just in the three excavation sites. Some groups found concrete, brick, and building material. In shovel test pit #9, a large chunk of concrete was found within the hole, but the group was unable to uncover the rest of it. It was pretty wide and tall and could potentially be from foundation of the Pine Hill Village or from spillover of concrete during that time when construction was taking place. There were also old rusty nails, glass, and ceramic found in the same STP. This would be a good place to start another full excavation site, but due to time constraints of the class, a STP will have to do for now. Pieces of concrete and brick were also found in shovel test pit #11. The piece of brick had text on it that the group wants to hopefully decipher during the next lab. It is highly possibly that all of these artifacts could be from Pine Hill Village since they were found a few inches deep into the STP. Groups are looking forward to further examining these materials to discover more information about the site. The STPs seemed to be very successful since many groups were able to find interesting artifacts that could lead to greater insight about Pine Hill Village.
Most of the survey grid had already been mapped so there was not as much to map this week. The mapping group, which consisted of 3 students, mapped the points of the many shovel test pits and trench 1 on the GIS computer. Students learned how to handle and use the GIS to get points that were within centimeters of accuracy. They placed the GIS computer in four sides of each STP to get those points and then placed the mapping system inside the hole to plot that point. This was also to map the length of the hole and the high-tech GIS made all of the points very accurate. This group also mapped the area of trench 1, consisting of its 2 contexts and the cobblestone path found within the site.
In addition, two students double checked all the survey unit forms to ensure all the information was correct. After clarifying handwriting and adding a few notes about the size of units, all the survey unit forms were in order.
Below is a photo detailing where new shovel test pits are, as well as the new excavation site at Trench 3 and the continued excavation at Trench 1. No new points were taken at Trench 2.
- Week 6 Summary
Two groups set out to continue the excavation work begun last week. Both teams made a great deal of progress, deepening the trenches by several inches, collecting a variety of significant artifacts, and discovering a hidden feature which appears to date from the area of study. The excavators began the work day using the practices of shovel shaving, which entails removing a single layer of earth by skimming a shovel over the surface of a trench, and troweling, which follows a similar practice with a smaller implement allowing for more detailed work. Dirt removed from the trenches was transferred to buckets and carefully sifted to ensure no artifacts were overlooked during the initial dig.
Trench Two, which covers a portion of the rubble heap and the area next to it, collected a variety of building materials in keeping with what is visible in the heap itself. Of particular interest were several bricks, small shards of glass and ceramic, and a long wire. All of these discoveries continue to point to this spot as a area of disposal for materials after Pine Hill Village’s dismantling. At Trench One, which entails the area surrounding the fire hydrant, there were several unexpected uncoverings. About two inches from the original surface, we found the first of many large glass pieces.
The glass is quite thick, and much of it has a decorated edge which may help in future reconstruction. At this time, it appears that these various shards come from either a single or a set of window panes; we know that Pine Hill Village houses had arctic glass windows. We are very much looking forward to studying these artifacts more closely!
In another context of the trench, the area to the south of the pipes which divide the trench in two halves,
the team found an unexpected feature: a section of an apparent flagstone path.
Set about three inches below the surface of the ground, the path appears to connect one area of the Village to the main asphalt road which has been in evidence in both our survey and excavations. Further digging in the northern context unveiled another flagstone of the some composition and leading in the same direction. We conclude from this that extending the trench in line with the three uncovered features would find similar flagstones and may help further our understanding of the exact placement and layout of the Village.
As for completing the survey universe, a small group of us added the last row on the most southwest portion. When examining where to put our points, a few of the points from the last classes were slightly off which we were tasked to fixing. From true north, we had to measure 315 degrees in order to orient the length of a survey grid; in order to orient the width, we measured 225 degrees. So, doing that for the last row, we found ourselves deep on the side of the hill behind Goodhue in between the pines that perhaps born the name of Pine Hill Village. Not new to us, the 100 meter row was marked with tape every 10 meters. These 10×10 squares were the last 10 grid squares that were to be surveyed.
As we put down that last row, the surveyors began to finish the survey and take down the string that had marked the survey universe. This deconstruction indicates that our archaeological work is coming to a close and that we can now move onwards in analyzing what we have found.
Three groups of two people were assigned to do test shovel pits. These test shovel pits are relatively small holes that are a couple feet deep. Alex had designated 3 original spots that when overlayed onto the map of Pine Hill Village were 3 points in which there may have once been a building or patio. They were mostly in the center of survey squares on the northwest portion of the survey universe. One pair discovered an amalgamation of rocks surrounded by what seemed to be rotting wood at 10-12 inches deep — this may be the foundation of a building. Next week, we will be digging deeper and around the rock in order to see what exactly it may be. Additionally, another pair found what seemed to be a tile in their test pit. We hope to dig more holes and see what else we can find.
An image of the amalgamation of rocks found.
The final groups finished the survey grid and continued mapping the site.
Finishing the survey grid involved extending down one more row down the hill. After dealing with some difficulties stemming from the steep hill, the grid was completed. Survey teams examined each of the new squares finding a variety of trash, as well as some noteable older artifacts including several bricks that appear similar to the bricks recovered from the rubble heap dig. The most common kinds of trash were glass fragments from broken bottles, plastic wrappers, and a continuing puzzling distribution of golf balls. The finds support the idea that this area has been recreation focused in more ways than one. We have also seen a higher density of artifacts in the least manicured areas of the site, noteable the hill and a survey unit that appears to have avoided the landscaping associated with units closer to the lacrosse field. Whether this anecdotal pattern bears out in the data will be determined in the coming analysis stage. Overall, the survey team is happy to have completed its data collection and looks forward to answers offered in the analysis stage.i The survey teams also had the pleasure of meeting several dogs, and had a great moment of community
outreach, explaining our project to the dog owners.
The mapping team finished laying out the points for the grid in GIS, as well as the new test pits and newly uncovered pieces of the path system. The hope is that the gis points laid down in the previous field day will be helpful in identifying the spatial orientation from the plans. At the moment we have a well developed map of the site and a completed survey, that should provide us ample data to work with in the coming weeks.
- Week 5 Summary
This week, we continued our survey of the Pine Hill Village Site behind Goodhue and began excavating in two locations. This also included expanding our grid lines and mapping the site location using DGPS.
On Tuesday afternoon, we met in the arb office to discuss our survey and excavation plan for the day as well as the methods archaeologists employ when considering excavation sites. Alex started class with a brief tutorial on ArcGIS. He discussed georeferencing which is assigning a location to something like a .JPG photo that has no spatial reference. You can match recognizable features and warp the photo to visually align it onto a map baselayer. This is a coarse way of doing it. Georeferencing can also be done by noting the exact spatial coordinates and converting it to the datum used on your digital map.
We also talked about the idea that the absence of artifacts is still something remarkable. No data is still data! If we aren’t finding artifacts from Pine Hill Village there might be a reason for it.
We also learned about contexts. During an excavation, different areas are called contexts. Each area is a different type of soil. Separating into groups based on distance would be too arbitrary. We look at a top view of the surface but also the profile view. Soil changes are categorized by soil changes. Different depositional events, for example a flood bringing sediments or a deep hole dug for a post can leave different signatures. Our goal is to group “like with like”.
After our discussion, we split into teams (see image below) to divide up the work. The teams surveying the additional squares encountered heavy vegetation and brush in the remaining survey units (10 m by 10 m) from last class (especially units located in rows 13 and 14). They then transitioned to the new survey units created in class–starting with S16. Of the 20 units covered, artifacts found included lots of plastic, lots of golf balls, a brick, asphalt chunks, concrete chunks, and a piece of glass. The surveys were conducted in the same manner as the previous week’s surveys–the teams walked side by side across the units. Obstacles for Tuesday’s survey included heavy rain and heavy brush, making it more difficult to catch things and be very thorough.
The maps show the new points in red and the old points in green. The grid is shown in white. The while polygons in the second picture show the location of the two excavation trenches. Trench one is the polygon in the north and trench two is south of trench one.
The mapping team identified three new features including the path, the fence post, and asphalt pile which could possible be remnants of an old road.
The excavation teams looked at two sites–the first trench was dug at the fire hydrant site and ran parallel the pipe. The second site was located to east of the rubble pile, parallel to the rubble pile, and included a small sliver of the rubble pile. (See zoomed-in image of the excavation sites. Both trenches were 2m by 2m. The teams started by removing obstacles such as tree branches and rocks, then took the top layer of the soil off, then began removing dirt with trowels. The fire hydrant group reached the step of taking dirt layers and putting it through the sifter to catch any artifacts. In this process, they found several pieces of glass. Obstacles to the excavation process included the heavy rain and deep tree roots in the trenches.
- Week 4 Summary
On Monday, before class, we went to a talk about why archaeology matters today with Professor Jeremy Sabloff, formerly of Penn. On Tuesday, during class, Professor Sabloff joined us and talked about his research at the Sayil site in the Northern Yucatan in Mexico. This site focused on topography and trying to understand the organization of the Maya in that area for normal people. He also talked about the technology the project used, specifically LIDAR and the ability to see the agricultural terraces and roadways of the site. We then connected that to survey sites that we had looked up before class from around the world. Students were able to ask Professor Sabloff some questions, and thought about how his work and their sites might connect to our class research.
Then, we went out to the Pine Hill Village site to begin our own research surveying the area. We set up the grid based on Alex’s map that proposed the site location as a series of 10 by 10 meter survey units, as shown in the link above. We started from the southeast corner of X16, then used 50 meter tape measures at angles of 315 compass degrees and 225 compass degrees to set up the edge of the survey area. From there, we used string and stakes to mark the edges of the survey area, then pink ribbons to mark off individual survey units. A group of students worked at this for the whole time we were in the field, and were able to set up survey units from T-X and 13-16.
Once the survey units were adequately marked, 10 students began the process of actually surveying the units. To do this, they split into groups of two people per square and did an intensive survey of the squares, noting any artifacts or features they found on survey unit forms. They then took those artifacts and bagged them by survey unit and material, so we can analyze them further at a later date. Among the artifacts we found were glass bottles, tennis and golf balls (which probably are not that useful) and general plastic stuff. Those groups were able to completely survey units T-X of rows 15 and 16, and U and V of row 14, as shown highlighted green in the map below.
0968_001 (Survey Unit Forms)
Finally, three students went with Claman to use a Differential GPS (DGPS) to mark features in our survey area. The DGPS allowed them to this with centimeter accuracy. While one person marked the location of the features, including the fire hydrant, a cement block, a pile of rubble and the path down to Goodhue, with the DGPS, one person was taking photographs and documenting each feature, while the other filled out feature forms.
Thursday, we took what we learned from the field on Tuesday and from outside research to discuss where we should go next with the project, with regards to both survey work and excavation. Some potential excavation locations to start on next week include the fire hydrant, the stairs to Goodhue, or any possible patios or outdoor spaces we may be able to discern from maps or artifacts we found while surveying. We also thought a little about potential research questions, largely focused on the family aspects of Pine Hill Village and the memories and stories of the people who lived there, some of whom are still alive, so we could possibly do a related ethnography. We also connected these further proposals with readings we did from Renfrow and Bahn and from Deetz, specifically in the context of social archaeology and societal analyses.
- Week 3 Summary
Our class discussion on Tuesday covered different methods of surveying an area and what would work better in varying situations, as well as considering different factors that would have to be considered for a successful survey, like location, the coverage of the survey and it’s intensity, resources like funding, time, people, etc, and other practicality concerns. We also outlined what we would generally look for and pay attention to in a survey: artifacts and what material it was made of and features of the area such as roads, mounds, water management features, structural remains, etc.
We then put this into practice during our lab period through a practice archaeological survey of the field adjacent to the Carleton Student Farm. This demo was a pedestrian survey using fieldwalking in transecting lines to survey unit areas. This was done by arbitrarily splitting up into 3 groups: A, B, and C. A member of each group was assigned to fill out a Survey Unit forms for each surveyed unit (a survey facilitator). Another member of each group was assigned to mark the corners of each unit with waypoints on a GPS (a mapper). The remaining members of the group would be assigned to walk along transecting lines of the unit area. This fieldwalking crew was to walk due north in parallel lines spaced some distance apart. Their task would be to maintain a straight walking trajectory (it was decided these should point north because of the orientation of the target area) and to count artifacts encountered. If the artifacts were noteworthy and potentially of archaeological significance, the fieldwalker would collect them and then report their finds on the Survey Unit Form. This way, each artifact collected could be traced back to the exact transect line in which it was found.
In order to space fieldwalkers out evenly, some form of standardization in measurement was needed. Before we started, each student was to pace out 10 meters and to count for themselves, how many strides was approximately 10 meters. The fieldwalkers then spaced themselves apart evenly by 10 meters. The survey facilitator and mapper then would set flags at the corners of the unit area (the length of which was determined arbitrarily). The mapper set waypoints at those far corners too. Once the fieldwalkers reached the end of the unit area, they would report their findings to the facilitator while the mapper set two new flags (and also waypoints) some arbitrary distance due north, creating the next unit area. This process was repeated until the group reached the end of the field.
Here is Google Earth satellite imaging of the unit areas of this survey demo:
(The unit areas are color coded based on group. The flags are waypoints set by the mapper. The pink line at the bottom is 100 meters in length to show scale. North is indicated in the top right corner.)
We started Thursday’s class talking about the different ways new technology has been implemented into archaeology, with things like LIDAR scanning and GIS. LIDAR scanning allows users to see the ground through disturbances like trees and heavy foliage. GIS systems are just different programs that archaeologists can use to gain more information about the area of land they want to survey. After talking about how we can use technology to help archaeologists be better and more efficient, we had visiting professor Austin Mason give us a guest lecture on different ways 3D mapping and imagery can be used by archaeologists. 3D modeling allows archaeologists to bring parts of projects or excavations online for anyone to see and allows the people studying the area to get new perspectives on the sites where they’re digging. Austin then showed us the different types of 3D modeling. The first was manual modeling, which is basically hand drawing the models on a computer program. This method is relatively simple and inexpensive, but takes a ton of time and skill. The next type is laser scanning, which allow you to create super accurate models with impressive details, but is really expensive and hard to travel with. Procedural 3D modeling is done by writing a script in a program that generates structures and usually used for large scale models. The last form of 3D modeling that Austin walked about was photogrammetry, which is the use of computer vision algorithms to align photos calculate 3D geometry from the overlapping pixels. Relatively simple and inexpensive, and it’s replacing a lot of the other methods listed above. After taking many pictures of the object or place in question at different angles and uploading them, software finds the similar pixels and uses this information to create the object in 3D, like a panoramic photo but in 3D. After Austin demonstrated how he has used photogrammetry to create 3D models of artifacts, the class had a discussion about the survey proposals that we had prepared for the day. The class decided to survey the Pine Hill Village site since almost everyone proposed that a survey should be done there. We will do a pedestrian survey of the land on Tuesday.
- Week 2 Summary
On Tuesday, we met as a class in the Carleton archives in the basement of the library. There, Nat Wilson talked to us about what is included in the college archives and how we can go about utilizing them as a resource for our research. He talked to us about the Women’s League Cabin, which we’d already discussed as a class before, and showed us some of the archives–pictures, letters, and records–housed there that related to the cabin.
After that, we all rode over to Faribault, a town about 20 minutes from Northfield, and visited the Rice County Historical Society that resides there. Inside, we met a retired archaeologist who showed us the museum’s collection of Native American artifacts, which included arrowheads, axe heads, tools, and potsherds dating from the paleoindian period to far more recent. He gave detailed information about how the artifacts were made, who made them, and how old they were. His professional insight was a good indicator of what the field of archaeology entails, and the people there stressed that one of the most important parts of being an archaeologist isn’t just knowing things, but knowing who to ask and where to look in order to find things out.
Rice County Historical Society Sign
An archaeologist tells the class about stone artifacts found in the area at the Rice County Museum of History.
After a brief tour of the museum gallery, we all climbed back into the vans and rode to Dundas, where we stopped at the site of the Archibald Mill ruins, left over from the days when this area was one of the most prosperous milling sites in the country. We studied a map that showed the locations of the numerous mills between Faribault and Red Wing along the Cannon River and its tributaries. We then had the chance to walk amongst the ruins themselves. They consisted of crumbling stone walls beside the bank of the river, and Alex pointed out the ruins of another mill on just the other side of the river. He also pointed out the spots in the walls where the masonry changed, indicating places that had been rebuilt when the mill was functional but plagued by constant fires that destroyed parts of the building.
Archibald Mill ruins in Dundas
On Thursday, we began the class with a visit from CCCE director and sociologist Adrienne Falcon, who spoke to us about the three essential components an academic civic engagement course entails: academic rigor, an impact or reach beyond the classroom, and a reciprocal relationship with the community. She then spoke, with several class members contributing, about what it means to give back to the community in the specific context of archaeology, how we might go about doing that, and some of the ethical questions involved. Several students brought up this course’s ability to help provide more information about local history to the community and several methods through which we might share our findings.
Following her visit, the class rearranged the chairs in the room into a circle to begin a class discussion of the past few classes worth of readings. Alex introduced the discussion by framing the readings into three general categories. Some of the readings, as well as our field trips on Tuesday, dealt with local Minnesota and Northfield history, from prehistory to the present. Others, primarily the textbook, outlined more technical archaeological methods. Finally, readings like Deetz’s In Small Things Forgotten explored archaeological thought, how archaeologists think and create narratives based on material objects. From there the class began a wide-ranging discussion of our impressions and interpretations of the readings, largely centering on Deetz’s book. We discussed the role of space, style, materials, the context, cultural attitudes, and ethical question of stakeholders. In the final, third portion of the class, students split up into groups based on the general locations they focused on for their essays on local places of historical interest. After sharing and comparing finds within groups, the class reconvened to share as a group and to tie everything together.
- Week 1 Summary
On Tuesday, Professor Knodell began the course with a lecture discussing archaeology as a multi-disciplinary field connecting science and the humanities. He touched on his research experiences in the field and explained the research opportunities available to students in the class throughout the term. The class then transitioned into a guided arb tour, led by the Director of the Cowling Arboretum, Nancy Braker.
The tour began in the Arboretum office. Students initially walked north past Olin Farm house and the Hillside Prairie (where Carleton students originally planted native prairie grasses). Students then proceeded to turn left to walk along the Canon river, past the Earth Day field (where students celebrated the first Earth Day by planting native and non-native species of trees), and along the Waterford Mill Pond Wing Dam to see the site of the Waterford Mill. Students observed some artifacts at the mill site; specifically, the concrete remains of a dam that once bridged the river and some trash. From there, the tour proceeded past lands recently converted from farmland into woodlands, as would naturally be observed in southern Minnesota. Students then walked east towards the site of the Women’s League Cabin. At the cabin site, students discussed the research undertaken by previous iterations of this class, and the past purpose of remains at the site. On the return to campus, students saw farm dumps containing trash from farms that previously existed on Arboretum land.
Nancy Braker explains the origin of prairie lands in the Carleton arboretum at the Hillside Prairie.
Students practice reading maps to recognize their location in the arboretum.
Students set out from campus on their tour with Nancy Braker.
Students observing the dam at the site of the Waterford Mill.
Students observe the farm dumps while Nancy Braker explains their purpose.
On Thursday, Carleton geology professor Mary Savina encouraged students to connect with their childhood homes’ topographies with a place-naming exercise. Students broke up into small groups to discuss elements of their childhood landscapes. They then created a list of features to consider when performing land surveys. Professor Savina then had students observe these features at sites, shown below on a map, around the Arb office. In their small groups, students observed the diverse ecosystems that can be seen immediately surrounding Carleton’s campus and considered which locations might be more conducive to different kinds of building (for example, a village or a fort). She concluded the class with a summary of geoarchaeology and her research on the Grevena project in Greece.
Location of the sites students surveyed with Mary Savina.
Students in the process of surveying a location.