Anthropology Day 2018 – What do we study?

Today is World Anthropology Day, sponsored by the American Anthropological Association.  This year we have decided to highlight the non-CAP research our director(s) and fellows conduct.

Lynne Goldstein

Dr. Goldstein at the 2017 CAP field school

On this World Anthropology Day, I am doing archaeology, but differently than I have done it in the past. I am going to retire this year – I still plan to do archaeology, but will no longer be teaching or digging. This shift in focus means that I have a lot of things to wrap up, as well as new projects to plan – it is important to organize our data and information so that others can carry on and go in new directions. For Campus Archaeology, I am trying to make sure that I leave new Director Stacey Camp with a program that is well organized, with few loose ends. For other projects, I am trying to accomplish much the same outcome. When we think about doing archaeology, we often think about the active parts – digging, analyzing artifacts, organizing data. All of those parts are critical, but the part that takes the longest is synthesizing, interpreting, and writing. When done well, these tasks are perhaps the most rewarding, if not always as much fun as digging and looking at cool artifacts. As you can see in the posts below, all of us at MSU Campus Archaeology are spending World Anthropology Day doing anthropology in very different ways. However, given that we are in Michigan, none of us are outside digging today.

Stacey Camp

Dr. Camp in Ireland c. 1998-1998

Dr. Camp in Ireland c. 1998-1998

My career in archaeology started when I enrolled in an archaeological field school as an undergraduate. The field school was in Ireland, and it was my first opportunity to travel abroad. There, I learned basic archaeological skills, such as how to excavate a unit, how to identify and date historic artifacts, and how to operate a transit used to map archaeological sites. I was fascinated by Ireland’s rich but contested history, and wanted to find a way to get back there after the field school ended. I applied for a competitive grant and received it, which allowed me to spend three months traveling around Ireland to analyze and interpret the presentation of Ireland’s prehistory at heritage sites and museums. It was a formative moment in my career, one that took me out of my comfort zone and gave me the chance to experience what it was like to do independent research in a foreign country. Since then, I have continued to examine sites with nuanced, dark pasts, ones that tell stories of racism and inequality so often ignored in the history books. My current research looks at the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and I hoping to expand this project to look at how individuals of Japanese heritage were treated in other countries during World War II.

Lisa Bright

Lisa Bright

Lisa Excavating at VMC Historic Cemetery. Image Source: Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group

My research focuses on the health and nutrition of individuals buried in a later 19th/early 20th century indigent cemetery in San Jose, California.  This cemetery is associated with the county hospital, and construction of a new hospital building in 2011 necessitated the exhumation of over 1,000 individuals in the path of the construction.  This cemetery presents a rare opportunity to study the lives of individuals in Santa Clara County during this time period as few large historic cemeteries have been excavated in the United States. The information that can be gained from the study of this collection will inform social scientists on the health, social status, demographic makeup, and medical practices encountered by this population. Specifically, the people buried at this cemetery were members of lower socio-economic communities, represented by many different ethic backgrounds. My dissertation research examines the impact of public health policy, and issues of institutional/structural violence on the health outcomes of these individuals.

Susan Kooiman

Susan Kooiman

Susan Kooiman

My research revolves around how humans interact with food and the ceramic vessels they crafted to cook, serve, and store food. Food is a biological need but is also inherently social, tied closely to our daily routines and cultural traditions. Pottery was crafted by people for the purposes of cooking, storage, and serving, both for in the home and in public contexts. The shape and other physical properties of vessels provide insight into which function a vessel was made to serve, while alterations to pottery vessels provides clues to how people used them. Both food choice and ceramic vessel form and style indicate social relationships and are subject to change over time in response to environmental, social, and/or political changes.

I study diet and pottery use of pre-European contact Indigenous groups in the Upper Great Lakes of North America. Specifically, I am looking for possible changes in food and cooking habits through time at the Cloudman site in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which was occupied from AD 100 to AD 1600. My dissertation explores these topics through burned food residue patterns (which can indicate cooking styles) and examination of food residues for microscopic plant remains and chemical signatures of plants and animals. Ultimately, I hope to understand the how and why the occupants of the Cloudman site made subsistence decisions in the context of environmental and social factors.

Autumn Painter

Autumn sorts bones in the cap lab.

Autumn sorts bones

Happy World Anthropology Day! My name is Autumn Painter and I study foodways in the prehistoric Midwest. My current research looks at the Morton Village site, located in west-central Illinois. This site was occupied contemporaneously by both local Mississippian people and Oneota migrants, and is an excellent case study to learn about subsistence strategies, social interaction, and food sharing. I specifically focus on analyzing animal (faunal) remains to answer my research questions.


Jeff Painter

Jeff Painter records a ceramic sherd.

Jeff Painter records a ceramic sherd.

My name is Jeff Painter and my research examines migration and social interaction in the late prehistoric Midwest.  Specifically, I focus on Morton Village, located in west-central Illinois, as a case study.  This site was occupied contemporaneously by both local Mississippian people and Oneota migrants, and was an excellent example of post-migration social interaction.  At this site, as well as at a comparative Oneota site in Wisconsin and another Mississippian site from west-central Illinois, I examine cooking practices and the context of cooking to examine how food practices changed due to migration and the role these practices played in negotiating life in this multi-ethnic community.

Jack Biggs

Jack Biggs

Jack Biggs peaking out of a sinkhole

My name is Jack Biggs and I am a 4th year anthropology graduate student at Michigan State University. I am a physical anthropologist and bioarchaeologist and my research interests are human growth and development and the impacts that the outside world has on these processes. Specifically, I focus on ancient Maya social constructs of infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and how factors such as diet, social structure, and the ecosystem interplay to eventually create a fully realized member of adult Maya society. I am currently on staff for the Central Belize Archaeological Survey (CBAS) where I co-direct excavations at mortuary rockshelters in the Caves Branch River Valley in Central Belize.

Mari Isa

Creating a finite element model of a blunt force impact to a skull. Mari Isa

Mari Isa – Creating a finite element model of a blunt force impact to a skull.

My research applies elements of anthropology and engineering to help explain trauma in the human skeleton. Both extrinsic factors—related to forces placed on the body—and intrinsic factors—characteristics of the body that are subject to human variation—contribute to how bones break. My research uses engineering experiments, computer modeling, and anthropological knowledge of human variation in the skeleton to better understand how these factors interact to generate fracture patterns. Understanding how bones break is critical to interpreting patterns of skeletal trauma as accurately as possible.

Unlike historical records or witness accounts, skeletal injuries provide direct evidence of traumatic events. Skeletal trauma observed in archaeological remains can be placed within a cultural context to explore human behaviors across time and space. In forensic contexts, skeletal trauma provides key evidence in reconstructing specific events responsible for injuries. This is important in individual cases involving violent deaths, and in the context of investigating human rights violations.

Meet the 2017 CAP Fellows and Undergraduate Interns

The 2017-2018 school year has just begun here at MSU.  Several large changes are in store at CAP this year, including the pending retirement of CAP director Lynne Goldstein and the addition of associate professor Stacey Camp. We’re excited to continue working on several ongoing projects and begin new and exciting research projects. So please meet the 2017-2018 CAP graduate fellows and undergraduate interns!

CAP Graduate Fellows

Lisa Bright

Lisa Bright

Lisa Bright: Lisa is a 4th year Anthropology Ph.D. student.  This year Lisa will continue as Campus Archaeologist for her third, and final year.  Her dissertation research focuses on focuses on the paleopathology and nutritional status of a historic paupers cemetery in San Jose, California. This year Lisa will be working with other fellows on their projects, supervising three undergraduate internships, and working to complete reports and process artifacts from this summer.


Susan Kooiman

Susan Kooiman

Susan Kooiman:  Susan is a 5th year Anthropology Ph.D. student, returning for her third year as a CAP fellow. Her dissertation research focuses on pottery use, cooking practices, and diet of precontact Indigenous groups in the Upper Great Lakes of North America. This year, she and Autumn Beyer will be continuing their project documenting foodways on campus during the Early Period (1855-1870) of MSU’s history. This includes expanding their research and disseminating the results of the project through publication, conference presentations, and other outreach opportunities.

Autumn Painter

Autumn Painter

Autumn (Beyer) Painter: Autumn is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology. Her research focuses on prehistoric foodways through the analysis of animal bones in the Midwestern United States. This is her second year as a CAP fellow, and she and Susan Kooiman will be continue to work together on their project researching food on MSU’s historic campus.


Jeff Painter

Jeff Painter

Jeff Painter: Jeff Painter is a fourth year Ph.D. student at Michigan State University who is returning for his second year as a Campus Archaeology Fellow. He is a prehistoric archaeologist focused on foodways, ceramics, and migration in the late prehistoric Midwest. For CAP, he continues his focus on foodways and ceramics, investigating the diversity of dining patterns through time on MSU’s historic campus.


Mari Isa

Mari Isa

Mari Isa: Mari is a fourth year Ph.D. student in Anthropology. For her dissertation research, she studies the biological and biomechanical factors that contribute to bone fractures. Her other research interests include the potential social and biological impacts of malaria in Late Roman/Early Medieval Tuscany. Mari is returning for her second year as a CAP fellow. This year she is excited to be working on various projects including creating new digital media for msu.seum to highlight recent projects by CAP fellows and interns on topics such as sustainability, foodways, and gender.

Jack Biggs

Jack Biggs

Jack Biggs: Jack is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology with a focus in bioarchaeology of the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica.  Specifically, he is interested in human growth and development and how infants, children, and adolescents interacted within society and how social constructions of age affected their experience of the physical and social world around them.  He conducted some summer field work for CAP in 2016 putting in test units at various locations across campus, including Station Terrace and Beal’s Laboratory.  This is his first year as a full CAP fellow and is very excited to be a part of the team.

Undergraduate Interns

Kaleigh Perry

Kaleigh Perry

Kaleigh Perry: My name is Kaleigh Perry, and I am a senior at MSU this year. This past summer, I participated in the CAP Field School and now I have been blessed with the opportunity to be an intern for CAP for the school year. Whereas my interests mostly lie in Forensics, specifically taphonomy – the science of understanding what happens to an organism as it decomposes – the Field School has peaked my interest in Archaeology. Now that I have some field experience, I am excited to get more experience working in a lab and doing research.

Cooper Duda

Cooper Duda

Cooper Duda: My name is Cooper Duda andI’m starting my junior year here at MSU.  I have a twin brother, Devin, who just transferred here for Criminal Justice.  I participated in the CAP Field School this summer, which helped me become more interested in archaeology.  Although I do enjoy archaeology and Cultural Resource Management, I plan on going into Forensic Anthropology for graduate school.

Desiree Quinn

Desiree Quinn

Desiree Quinn: Hi, my name is Desiree Quinn and I’m a junior Anthropology major. I’m interested in studying bioarchaeology and environmental anthropology/archaeology. After attending the CAP field school this summer, I became certain that archaeology is the field for me and I am excited to learn more about the research side of archaeology this year!


Big Changes Coming in MSU Campus Archaeology’s Future

The 2017-18 academic year will be a momentous one for MSU Campus Archaeology. We are now an established entity in the University with our own budget and clear goals, but as of May 2018, I (Lynne Goldstein) will be retiring from MSU, and the MSU Campus Archaeology Program will have a new Director and, hopefully, even more exciting and new directions.

Thanks to the assistance of Dean Rachel Croson of the College of Social Science, MSU has hired Dr. Stacey Camp as an Associate Professor of Anthropology who will become Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program in May 2018. We have the good fortune to be able to spend this year making sure that we have everything in good shape, and preparing Stacey for the details of running this unique program.

MSU has been extraordinarily generous and supportive of the Campus Archaeology Program, and I cannot thank the Administration enough for their vision in championing the program and providing both undergraduate and graduate students unique and important training and career opportunities.

The rest of this post is written by Stacey Camp, introducing herself to MSU Campus Archaeology Program supporters.

Lynne Goldstein

Dr. Stacey Camp

Dr. Stacey Camp, Associate Professor of Anthropology and future director of CAP

I am honored and excited to be joining Michigan State University as a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and as the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. I appreciate the opportunity to shadow Dr. Goldstein to ensure continuity in the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. I come from the University of Idaho where I spent 9 years as a faculty member and close to 4 years as the director of one of three state repositories in Idaho.

I have admired the MSU Campus Archaeology Program’s work from afar for many years, attending sessions on the project at conferences, reading its blog, and following its Twitter account. I was attracted to the program because of my own research projects, which have foregrounded a publicly engaged approach to archaeology.

My research takes a comparative approach to understanding the lives of migrants inhabiting the late 19th and early 20th century Western United States. My first large-scale public archaeology project examined the lives and archaeology of Mexican migrant laborers and their families, which I blogged about on a now defunct website. My latest project looks at the archaeology of Japanese American prisoners incarcerated in a World War II internment camp, and has likewise been documented on the web.

One of things I have appreciated about the MSU Campus Archaeology Program is its innovative and creative approach to placing the history of higher education in Michigan into the public’s hands. Their recent historic “MSU dinner” and their ongoing partnership with the MSU Paranormal Society to offer historic haunted tours are just a few examples of this type of engagement. I look forward to collaborating with students, colleagues, and community partners on the MSU Campus Archaeology Program to continue to develop new strategies to push the boundaries of public archaeology at MSU.

Stacey Camp

MSU Campus Archaeology, The Future, and Day of Archaeology

By Lynne Goldstein

I am also posting this on the Day of Archaeology website.

I was not going to personally post today for Day of Archaeology (#dayofarch) since our field season ended a few weeks ago, and I am getting ready for surgery (hip replacement). All of our student workers are off doing other things, so our lab is pretty quiet right now. Field work is also on hold since construction projects are in their final phases, in an attempt to be completed before school begins. However, when I realized that this was the last Day of Archaeology, I felt compelled to write something since I am also coming to the end of a project.

I created and direct the Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program (MSU CAP), and as of May 2018, I will be retiring from the University (although not from archaeology). The job of directing and administering MSU CAP will go to Dr. Stacey Camp, who has just arrived in East Lansing so that we can overlap for a year. MSU CAP is in very capable hands, and I am confident that the program will not only survive, but thrive. We will do a blog post welcoming and more completely introducing Stacey later in August.

Historic archaeology in general, and campus archaeology in particular, were never my primary research interests. But career paths are rarely straight, and I have found that one does best taking advantage of opportunities along the way. Given this, I have conducted excavations of several large and small historic cemeteries across the U.S., and I created this campus program, which is primarily (although not exclusively) focused on historic sites.

I thought that a campus-focused program would be good for a number of reasons (beyond being able to sleep in my own bed each night), but found that there were even more reasons than I had anticipated. Here are a few of them:

  1. Doing archaeology on campus raises awareness of archaeology and the fact that sites are everywhere, and that campus histories do not tell the complete story. We see ourselves as educating a large community (students, faculty staff, alumni, the general public) on the importance and value of archaeology.
  2. Students and staff are more likely to get involved and excited when the sites being excavated are something they can directly relate to, and developing an appreciation for and learning more about the history of the campus is good for everyone.
  3. Campus Archaeology has changed attitudes and approaches of the upper administration of the campus, as well as the workers. Physical plant employees have told us that working with CAP has definitely made their jobs more interesting.
  4. Running a field school on campus (which we generally do every other year) allows students who cannot go on an expedition elsewhere the chance to learn archaeological methods and techniques. Some students cannot afford to go elsewhere, others have family commitments that constrain their opportunities.
  5. In addition to training students in archaeological methods like every archaeological field school does, we also train students in archival research and to work with construction crews, staff, administration, etc. This additional training that our undergrad interns and graduate student fellows receive helps them get into graduate school and get better jobs. They have a kind of training that few others receive; they all also get extensive training in public outreach and engagement.
  6. Social media has allowed a very small program to have a very large reach – we regularly engage with archaeologists and the public around the world. Students are trained in conducting such engagement, including writing regular blog posts.
  7. Studying the history of higher education – particularly the land grant schools – through archaeology is fascinating, reflects larger changes in the overall culture, and is an area that has not been widely examined archaeologically. Each graduate fellow focuses their individual project on a different aspect of this history.

I feel privileged to have been able to create and direct this program, and I have to thank Michigan State University for its generous and enthusiastic support. Will I miss doing this? Of course, but it is also time to move on the next phase. I love Day of Archaeology because – ona single day – we can see what kinds of things archaeologists are doing all over the world. We are learning a lot about our past, with some clear possibilities for future directions if we listen.

Meet the 2017 Field School Students

This week kicked off our 2017 field school.  Students will be investigation an area in the Abbot median that contained Station Terrace.  Take a moment to meet this summer’s field school students.  They will be posting weekly blogs during the field school.

2017 CAP Field School Students

Desiree Quinn: Hi! My name is Desiree Quinn and I’m a junior studying anthropology at Michigan State University. Like many others, I first became interested in anthropology after watching the show Bones. (I know that most anthropologists are cringing at my mention of Bones, sorry!) Since then, I’ve grown to love everything about anthropology which has made it difficult for me to pinpoint an area of focus. I have many research interests including bioarchaeology, environmental anthropology, museum studies, and biological anthropology. I’m hoping that this field school, after having some hands-on experience, will help me to narrow down that list.

I’m really excited to see how archaeology can be used in ways that I hadn’t considered. In particular, I’m really looking forward to learning about public archaeology because I think it’s really important for science to be accessible to the public. I also like that this field school gives me the unique opportunity to learn more about my university and I can’t wait to be an archaeologist!

Jerica Aponte: Hello, my name is Jerica. This is my first semester at Michigan State University as a transfer student. I think that getting involved in this field school is the perfect way to get started on this new journey.

Why Anthropology? Is the question that everyone asks me. Well, let me tell you a little about myself. I was born in Puerto Rico, but at the age of seven, my parents became missionaries. This gave me the opportunity to live in countries such as Belize, Peru, and Costa Rica, and I also got to travel to other countries. Getting to see firsthand, not only how much diversity there is, but also compare the similarity between people, sparked my interest in cultures and people.

Even though I am not a student seeking an Archaeology degree, I have learned that Anthropology is a holistic field. All of its different areas, such as: Archaeology, Linguistics, Cultural, and Applied Anthropology, work hand in hand in order to better understand the whole. My interest is in the cultural aspect of anthropology, and one way of understanding the social culture (abstract concepts and ideas) is by studying the physical culture (concrete representation of ideas.) This is why I have decided to participate in the Campus Archaeology Research.

This hands-on experience will help me apply knowledge that I have previously gained in my classes and it will also be a learning experience for me. Something that I am looking forward to is learning more about the roots and foundation of MSU. Learning about the history of the school that I am attending will allow me to appreciate it more. So, even though I like the cultural aspect of anthropology, archaeology helps me visualize how our ancestors lived and functioned in their different spaces.

I am looking forward to this enriching experience and I hope to make many discoveries alongside my classmates. Stay tuned for more updates.

Kaleigh Perry: My name is Kaleigh, I am a junior at Michigan State University, and will be participating in the 2017 MSU Campus Archaeology Field School this summer. I entered MSU as a Chemistry major, but quickly switched my major to Anthropology since I discovered I am more interested in how past people lived than I am in chemical reactions. I am specifically interested in pursuing a career in Forensic Anthropology (dealing with contemporary human remains) or Bioarchaeology (examining archaeological or historically significant human remains) because I find that bones of the deceased can tell fascinating stories about how people lived and died, thereby increasing our knowledge about past ways of life, technology, and cultures that may have become extinct.

I applied for the MSU Field School for two main reasons. First, excavations can be an important part in the Anthropological research process, and for this reason, I want to learn how to properly partake in an excavation. Secondly, by participating in the Field School, I hope to learn something new about the beautiful campus I have been fortunate enough to call home for the past three years.

I am looking forward to seeing what the next month holds.

Cooper Duda: I’m Cooper Duda and am going into my junior year here at MSU.  I come from Commerce Township, Michigan; which is about an hour away.  I have a younger twin brother that is transferring to MSU in the fall.  My freshman year I lived in Wilson Hall and now I live off campus with some friends.

I became interested in Anthropology and Archaeology when I decided I no longer liked my first major, which was Chemical Engineering, and decided to change to something I would actually enjoy and like to do as a career.  I have always been interested by history and how things have been changed to become how they are now.  The more I learn about the more I am happy with the fact that I changed my major, but I am still unsure if I want to go into a sub-discipline of Archaeology or Physical Anthropology because both are really intriguing to me.

Josh Eads: Hello, folks. My name is Josh Eads. I’m currently an anthropology major at Michigan State University. After the Fall semester of 2017, I’ll graduate and head off to do Cultural Resource Management to start off my career in anthropology. For those of you who don’t know what cultural resource management is, basically it is the process of surveying an area for artifacts related to culture and history, such as American Indian burial grounds or arrow-heads, and saving them from total annihilation.

Initially, my major was physics, but after realizing that physics can be a complete nightmare, I decided to switch to anthropology and archaeology. For anyone who knows Kate Meyers Emery, she’s the one that I will always say “thanks” to for introducing me to the wonders of archaeology.

With CAP 2017, I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty, literally, and engaging in some good old-fashioned excavation. I look forward to getting the chance to learn about the history of Michigan State University and East Lansing. GO GREEN!

Alex Samons: I’m Alex Samons. I’m a senior anthropology student at Michigan State University now but I’ll be starting to study at a school in England in the coming fall for my master’s degree in Osteoarchaeology.

Osteoarchaeology is, very simply, the study of very old human bones recovered from archaeological contexts. In the UK, osteoarchaeology is considered a field of its own within the larger field of archaeology (which is considered a separate field from anthropology) although here in the US it is considered a form of bioarcheology (an subset of anthropology that focuses on the biological remains of humans and their ancestors).

2017 Anthropology Day Videos

Yesterday was the American Anthropological Associations Anthropology Day.  Campus Archaeology participated by posting a series of short videos showcasing some of the projects and outreach we had conducted over the past week.  Here are the permanent links to those videos:

  1. CAP Fauna with Autumn Beyer:
  2. CAP Ceramics with Jeff Painter:
  3. CAP Outreach with Susan Kooiman, MAS talk on prehistoric site:
  4. CAP Director – Inside Dr. Goldstein’s Office:
  5. CAP – Campus Archaeologist with Lisa Bright:


2017 Campus Archaeology Field School

Announcing the 2017 Campus Archaeology Field School!

We are pleased to once again offer our on-campus field school.  This five week field school will take place May 30th – June 30th, 2017.  The class takes places Monday through Friday from 9am – 4pm. Students enroll for 6 credits of ANP 464. This class is open to MSU students and non-MSU students. There is a $150 equipment fee that is used to supply students with excavation tools.  At the end of the field school students will keep this toolkit. Space is limited to 20 students, and applications are due to Dr. Goldstein ( by March 5th.

Through excavation, lab work, and digital outreach students will examines several unique and interesting places on MSU’s historic campus.  In this course students will get the opportunity to actively engage in archaeological research. You will learn excavation methods, survey techniques, how to map and record an excavation unit, laboratory methods, cultural heritage and digital outreach engagement, as well as an introduction to archival research.

This summer we plan to excavate in two areas: Beal’s Botanial Lab and Station Terrace.

Beals Lab:

Beal in the botanical garden. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Beal in the botanical garden. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Dr. Beal is an important person in early campus history.  Though Beal served as a botany professor at MSU (then MAC) from 1871-1910, he made mark on campus that survives to this day.  The Beal botanical garden (directly east of the MSU main library), established in 1873 is the oldest continuously operated university botanical garden in the U.S.  Beal also started, what is today, one of the longest continuously running experiments in the world!  In 1879 Beal buried 20 bottles containing seeds with the intent to see how long a seed could lay dormant and still germinate.  The next bottle is scheduled to be dug up and opened in 2020.  The location of the experimental bottles is a closely held campus secret.  Beal was known as an incredibly eccentric professor, and the design of his first botanical laboratory was fittingly eccentric as well.

Beal's first Botanical Laboratory - Image Source: MSU Archives & Historical Collection FLICKR

Beal’s first Botanical Laboratory – Image Source: MSU Archives & Historical Collection FLICKR

Beal's Botanical Lab after the fire - March 1890. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections.

Beal’s Botanical Lab after the fire – March 1890. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections.

Built in 1879 (more detail), this building burned to the ground on March 23rd 1890.  Although specific details about the fire have been lost over time, we do know that lab equipment (such as microscopes) was salvaged from the wreckage and the fire prompted the university to establish a fire brigade. We’ve established that portions of the building foundation still exists, and field school students will have the opportunity to excavate in this location.

Station Terrace

Station Terrace - Photo courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Station Terrace – Photo courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Station Terrace stood at the souther end of what is now the Abbot street entrance.  This building was constructed between 1892-1895 and originally housed visiting scholars from the experimental research stations. It was also later used to house bachelor faculty members, the East Lansing Post Office, and the Flower Pot Tea room (read more). The building was moved off campus in the early 20s but the foundation, as well as many artifacts remain.  After excavations at Beal’s lab it’s expected that the field school will move to this second location.

For more information about the field school, head on over to the field school webpage.

Download the application. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have here, on Twitter, or email Dr. Goldstein directly.



Privy Seed Germination Experiment: Introduction to Intern Becca Albert’s Project

Hi, I’m Becca Albert, and I’m a CAP undergrad intern this semester.  I participated in the 2015 field school, volunteered in the CAP lab last year, and worked on the field crew last summer. My internship project for this semester includes testing to see whether seeds found in the West Circle privy in June 2015 will germinate. These seeds were identified as raspberry seeds (id courtesy of Dr. Katie Egan-Bruhy) it will be difficult to determine what species they are until they grow (if they grow!) The privy is dated to campus’s Phase I (1855-1870), with diagnostic artifacts dating to the 1860’s and 1870’s. University archival records of the Board of Trustee meeting minutes from 1875 indicate that Beal ordered around 300 raspberry bushes to be planted on campus. Whether these were for botanical experiments or for food sources is unknown, however it is unlikely that these weren’t used as a food source, as foraging for berries in the area and farming was a great contributor of food for the students. Financial records from Saint’s Rest also indicate that the boarding hall was purchasing upwards of 130 quarts of berries a week during the summer. Again, no specific species is indicated, but this does provide archival evidence of berry consumption. These seeds were found in association with a flower pot, so although these could have been digested, these could also have been the product of a failed botanical experiment.

Seed from the privy under magnification. Image source: Amy Michael

Seed from the privy under magnification. Image source: Amy Michael

The seeds I am using for my experiment were first separated from 10 grams of night soil by hand and then weighed. The total weight of all the seeds was 0.2 grams, so not a very hefty sample size. These seeds were evaluated under a stereomicroscope to make sure what we picked out were actually seeds, and were counted. The total number of seeds from this sample was 174 seeds – that’s about .001 of a gram for each seed. To test whether these seeds germinate, we will be using two experimental methods. The first method is a simpler experiment, like one that you might try as an elementary school experiment – this follows some of the thinking for an experiment I tried with Lima beans in third grade! Several seeds will be placed in between some damp paper towels, which will then be placed on a plate, and sealed into a plastic bag. This bag will then be placed somewhere warm, like on top of a refrigerator, and will be checked periodically to see whether some of the seeds germinate. The sealed plastic bag will allow the moisture and humidity inside the bag to stay constant, however after a week or so, these paper towels will be replaced with new moist paper towels both to prevent mold, germinated seeds from attaching to the paper towel, and to increase the humidity inside the bag periodically. These methods are adapted from this article from the SFGate Home Guides Website, however many modes of basic seed germination follow steps similar to these.

Man digging up seeds for viability experiment, likely H. T. Darlington. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections.

Man digging up seeds for viability experiment, likely H. T. Darlington. Image courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections.

The second method is one that is more scientifically rigorous, and includes following methods that are used in Beal’s famous seed longevity experiment. Beal’s experiment essentially asks the question of how long can a seed lie dormant before it cannot germinate. This experiment is in its 137th year, with the next experiment occurring in 2020. The previous testing year for the Beal seed experiment reported three species as germinating, with around a 46% success rate for one species, a 2% success rate from a second species, and a 4% success rate for the third species (Telewski 2002). CAP is working under the assumption that the privy was likely damaged in the 1876 fire that destroyed Saints Rest, making these seeds 3 years older than the Beal seeds.

My experiment includes placing approximately 50 seeds in a growth chamber for a specified day/night cycle, humidity, and temperature. The seeds themselves are placed in a pre-determined soil mixture and kept in damp soil. The seeds will be checked periodically to see if germination occurred, and to keep the soil damp. Following the methods used for Beal’s experiment will not provide an opportunity to test their methods, but is also an homage to the man who provided a lot MSU’s more interesting early history.

Several scientists around the world have been able to germinate seeds from prehistoric contexts (Sallon 2008, Yashina 2012). Archaeologists in the United States have found seeds in historic privy excavations however, germination experiments have not been attempted because they are generally larger assemblages with a variety of species and a greater importance has been placed on determining the species present (Trigg 2011, Meyers 2011, Beaudry 2010, Dudek 1998). If these seeds germinate, it would be an interesting addition to the germination of seeds well past their prime.

Stay tuned for updates as the experiment progresses!


MSU Archives & Historical Collections:
– Madison Kuhn Collection Volume 82, Folder 11, Box 2531, Collection IA 17.107 (Records for July 1870).
– UA 1 State Board of Agriculture/Board of Trustee Records. Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes Notes: 1875

Meyers, Ciana Faye, 2011. The Marketplace of Boston: Macrobotanical Remains from Faneuil Hall. Thesis.

Beaudry, M. C, 2010. Privy to the feast: eighty to supper tonight. Table Settings: The Material Culture and Social Context of Dining in the Old and New Worlds AD, pp. 1700-1900.

Dudek, Martin G., Lawrence Kaplan, and Marie Mansfield King, 1998. Botanical Remains from a Seventeenth-Century Privy at the Cross Street Back Lot Site. Historical Archaeology, pp. 63-71.

Meyers, Ciana Faye, 2011. The Marketplace of Boston: Macrobotanical Remains from Faneuil Hall. Thesis.

Sallon, Sarah, Elaine Solowey, Yuval Cohen, Raia Korchinsky, Markus Egli, Ivan Woodhatch, Orit Simchoni, and Modechai Kislev, 2008. Germination, Genetics, and Growth of an Ancient Date Seed. Science 5882(320), pp. 1464.

Telewski, FW and JAD Zeevaart, 2002. The 120-yr period for Dr. Beal’s seed viability experiment. American Journal of Botany, 89(8), pp. 1285-1288.

Trigg, Heather, Susan Jacobucci, and Marisa D. Patalano, 2011. Parasitological and Macrobotanical Analyses of a Late 18th Century Privy, Portsmouth New Hampshire.

Yashina, Svetlana, Stanislav Gubin, Stanislav Maksimovich, Alexandra Yashina, Edith Gakhova, and David Gilichinsky, 2012. Regeneration of whole fertile plants from 30,000 y-old fruit tissue buried in Siberian permafrost. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109(10) pp. 4008-4013.

How to Germinate with Paper Towels.


MSU Campus Archaeology & Day of Archaeology

Today is officially Day of Archaeology (#dayofarch).
Here at Michigan State, we have finished the field school, completed most construction-related projects, and are cleaning artifacts, organizing things and preparing for the new school year. I (Lynne Goldstein) am personally doing conference calls and trying to catch up on a variety of things that are due.

The field school was in a great location this year – along the river and right behind the Administration Building. The location was not only lovely and prime territory for duck and goose watching, but it is also a high traffic area, with lots of people – including administrators – walking by daily. Here is a shot I took from the Provost’s office: IMG_1788

And here is our end-of-dig crew shot: IMG_2092

Archaeological work outside the field may sound dull, but it really is not always the case, as I noted yesterday on Facebook:
“Sometimes meetings are very enjoyable. Just returned from a meeting about new campus historical markers, focusing on the “Sleepy Hollow” area. MSU wants to include info on the prehistoric site we found at the edge of the hollow, as well as info the MSU Campus Archaeology Program has on historic sites and events in the area.
After the meeting, we went and inspected a couple of sites, then I visited the Beal Botanical Garden because all of the Eastern Agricultural Complex domesticates were blooming – goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), marshelder (Iva annua), and squash (Cucurbita pepo).”

The Lansing State Journal ran an article this week on archaeology in Michigan, and we are very pleased that we are featured, along with Fort Michilimackinac and others.

The field school excavated a really interesting historic site that was apparently a single dump episode – in 1924, the head of grounds for the campus (also a Professor of Horticulture) remodeled and modernized his house and used the construction debris as fill for a low spot along the river, not far from the house. Everything we found dates from 1890s-1925. Field school students blogged about the work and what they found, and you can find those posts here:

Our regular CAP posts continue, and this link tells you about the outhouse we found which is probably linked to Saints Rest, the very first dormitory on campus. We are very excited about this find because we have been searching for an outhouse associated with the dorm for a long time. Archaeologists like outhouses (well, old ones that don’t smell anymore) because no one goes after anything they dropped into one, and people also often used them as a dump for debris.

We do have some sidewalk work to do on campus, and this often yields really interesting things. The University replaces sidewalks with some regularity (they are now trying to install “green” sidewalks everywhere), and there is often undisturbed stuff beneath the old sidewalks.

CAP- Year in Review

As the final week of the semester winds down, CAP wanted to look back at all we’ve accomplished this year. In addition to our public outreach projects, which included Michigan Archaeology Day, Science Fair at Bennett Woods Elementary, Science Fest at East Olive, and the Haunted Campus Tour, our CAP fellows have been hard at work on their own projects and papers.

Katy Meyers-Emery

This semester, I’ve been working on a number of projects. The first is research into the history, archaeology and perceptions of the Sacred Space. This work will be presented at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference as part of the SAA sponsored session. The second is preparing for the summer Campus Archaeology field school. I will be the Teaching Assistant for the field school, which is an exciting opportunity for me to learn to teach in this unique manner. In addition to these two projects, I also helped with the creation of a game for Science Fest and other kid’s archaeological events. The game involves a mock stratigraphy with different types of soil based on what they think the artifact is and how old they think it is. I helped develop a proposal for a sustainability grant, and also tested out some new digital methods of recording in the field. As usual, I have blogged throughout the semester on a variety of topics, helped to maintain and update the website and aided in Science Fest.

Nicole Geske

I researched the best way to approach our outreach. From seeing what others have done for their archaeological outreach, it was determined that we should instead focus on creating “toolboxes” that could be loaned out to various teachers or educators. These have not been fully completed as of yet, but we have a list of topics and materials that would be included within them. At this point, we just need to create them. It was also determined that there were some instances that were better suited for us to interact with students directly, especially for campus- based events, suh as Science Fest and Grandparents University. For these events,  I developed and modified activities that could be utilized. I also examined sustainability through time on campus for our presentation at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference in May. Finally, I accessioned and cataloged the collections from previous excavations and field work on campus.

Josh Burbank

This year my projects included completing a panel on the history of students at MSU to be displayed at the new Graduate School location in Chittenden Hall. I’ve been working with Amy on the presentation for the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference. Our paper seeks to understand if “gendered” spaces can be predicted on campus. Throughout the year I conducted research at the University Archives to learn more about MSU’s original Engineering Building, which was destroyed by a fire in 1916, and Wells Hall #2, which was demolished in 1966 to make room for an addition to the Main Library. This research was done in preparation for the upcoming field school.

Amy Michaels

During the fall semester I worked on two different panels for the Chittenden Hall displays. The first panel reviewed the history of the building through time, while the second panel focused on the history of Lab Row. Throughout both semesters, i continued to collect data from the University Archives for the gendered landscape project. A summary of the project will be presented at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference. Finally, I completed a draft of the gendered landscape paper the I will work on with Dr. Goldstein to submit for publication.

Lisa Bright

This year I focused on the completion of a panel for the Chittenden display. The panel discussed the relationship between CAP and Graduate School. This spring, I spent extensive time in the archives researching the possible origin of the Hannah Admin assemblage. Kate and I were able to locate a possible source for the high quality ceramics, the Ana Bayha Home Management House. Finally, I’ve been working with Nicole and Amy on a presentation for the the Cultural Landscape and Heritage Values Conference on MSU’s sustainability practices through time.

Blair Zaid

I’ve had three major projects this year.  The first was the Sacred Space panel for Chittenden Hall. I integrated the work of previous CAP fellows with what I learned from the cultural heritage course with Dr. Goldstein to create a publicly accessible display of the links between MSU, archaeology, and cultural heritage. My year long project in 3D technology has introduced me to a number of resources and people through twitter, campus, and plain old face-to-face conversations. My ultimate goal was to identify a free and easy way to display 3D pictures of on the CAP website.  This project is still underway and as I’ve teamed up with members of MSU LEADR to bring the project to completion this summer. For my last major project I am working with Kate on a presentation for the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference. This paper will explore potential relationships between MSU’s prehistoric site to their cultural heritage initiatives. Ultimately, we are attempting to come up with some meaningful ideas for how to incorporate local Native American pasts into MSU’s present.