Grandparents University recap

Grandparents University

Last week, MSU hosted their fourth annual Grandparents’ University. Campus Archaeology hosted a two-day workshop for grandparents and grandchildren…needless to say, we had a wonderful time, and got wonderful feedback. Day 1 was an introduction to archaeology and a walking tour of the old campus. We managed to dodge the rain. The highlight of the tour was definitely stopping by the excavation unit that we opened up behind Saints’ Rest. Getting to see archaeologists actually doing archaeology got them very excited about the tour, and I think really put everything we discussed into context for them.

Charlotte talks with some Grandparents and Grandchildren about some of our finds at the site.
Charlotte talks with some Grandparents and Grandchildren about some of our finds at the site.

Day 2 was spent in the lab, and was full of surprises. We talked about how we find and define archaeological sites, and taught them about how artifacts end up in the ground. This was highlighted by a loud and dramatic example of how a whole pot becomes a broken pot. Additionally, we let them all clean some bricks that we discovered at the Beal Street project, and let them take home their newly cleaned brick.

We have received wonderful feedback so far, and the tour made me realize just how much there is to learn about some of the spots that we visited along the tour. In subsequent posts, we will try to highlight some of these important places.

Saints’ Rest

Our excavations at Saints’ Rest were as successful as we had anticipated. We had previously opened a unit in November of 2008, and this time opened another unit directly to the east. Basically, we uncovered a mirror image of the November unit. The artifacts that came from the pit were equally similar: a large amount of butchered cow bones and a pig jaw, ironstone ceramic, and glass tumblers made up the majority of the finds. Cut nails helped us to narrow down the date of the site to the 19th century, as did a complete lack of 20th century materials which have been plentiful in other trash deposits found on campus.

The South wall of our unit. You can see the excavated trash pit feature, complete with artifacts in the walls, to the left.
The South wall of our unit. You can see the excavated trash pit feature, complete with artifacts in the walls, to the left.

This unit was incredibly helpful as we now have two edges of the feature. Some questions do still remain, however. The lack of variety is surprising, particularly the minimal amount of personal items discovered. However, this may be explainable considering the remoteness of the early college (Saints’ Rest stood from 1855-1876, the “starvation” period of the college). It is likely that the amount of material goods that existed were minimal, as was the variety – the inhabitants brought what they needed and not much else. Also, a variety of trash deposits may have been used. The people who worked the kitchen may have been using this area to dispose of their trash. Students may have gone elsewhere.

Visit our Flickr Galleries for more photos of Grandparents University and Saints’ Rest Excavations!

Read Dan the Campus Archaeology Intern’s reflections on Grandparents’ University!

 

Author: Terry Brock



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