CAPBlog

Scenes of Summer at Michigan State

Scenes of Summer at Michigan State

Summer in Michigan brings warm weather, thunderstorms, beach days and, for Campus Archaeology at least, shovel testing, construction monitoring, and CAP’s on campus field school. As we head into a new summer of Campus Archaeology we recap some of the great projects our impressive CAP 

SciFest ReCAP: The 2022 Artifact Mystery Quiz

SciFest ReCAP: The 2022 Artifact Mystery Quiz

Trick or Teach! Take the 2022 Mystery Artifact Quiz and learn more about the 2020 Service Road Project excavations.

The Golden Eagle Promotion: How Sprite Bottles Became a National Park Service Advertisement

The Golden Eagle Promotion: How Sprite Bottles Became a National Park Service Advertisement

While looking through the artifacts recovered from the 2020 Service Road project, the CAP crew found an interesting green glass bottle fragment. After further investigation, I found that this fragment was the remaining portion of a Sprite bottle made by the Chattanooga Glass Company (as indicated by the “C” in a circle logo) (Lockhart et al. n.d. (b)). But what could make this find even cooler? The name of a national park embossed into the base!

Now I know you’re wondering, why is Sequoia National Park on the bottom of a 1960s-1970s Sprite bottle? Great question! 

It turns out that Coca-Cola and the National Park Service have had a long history of collaborating with one another. It all began in the 1930s when a Coca-Cola ad consisted of bears drinking Coca-Cola in Yellowstone National Park (Hanna n.d.). Additional advertisements soon appeared, showing national park landscapes and cowboys drinking Coca-Cola.

collection of mid-20th century coca-cola adverts showing people drinking Coca-Coal in national parks.
(images provided by The Coca-Cola Company, as cited in Hanna n.d.)

How does our Sequoia National Park Sprite bottle fit into the picture?

Well, this bottle was part of a promotion of the national parks and national monuments titled Golden Eagle (Hassett 2016; Lockhart 2011). In 1966, the U.S. government was promoting a “golden permit”, priced at seven dollars, that would allow families to visit any of the national parks or monuments as often as they wanted from April 1966 to March 1967 (Hassett 2016). This led to a partnership between the National Park Service and The Coca-Cola Company to promote this permit. Urging people to “See America,” the promotion included a bottle cap sweepstakes with a $33,000 grand prize (McCarthy 2019). Additionally, thirty-six different national parks and national monuments were embossed onto the base of seven to ten-ounce Sprite bottles (Hassett 2016; Lockhart 2011; McCarthy 2019). The national park/monument bottles were produced by many bottle manufacturers and distributed to the public, providing an advertisement for the National Park Service (Hassett 2016). The Golden Eagle Passport has since been discontinued and has been replaced by the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Annual Pass (National Park Service 2019). 

Image showing the 36 national parks authorized to appear on Sprite bottles:

Acadia; Big Bend; Everglades; Gettysburg National Military Park; Grand Canyon; Mammoth Cave; Olympic; Rocky Mountain; Saratoga National Historical Park; Sequoia; Shenandoah; Zion; Hot Springs; White Sands; Isle Royale; Great Smoky Mountains; Ft. Sumter National Monument; Shiloh National Military Park; Lincoln Memorial; Joshua Tree National Monument; Yellowstone; Glacier; Crater lake; Wind Cave; Mt. McKinley; Cumberland Gap National Historical Park; Hawaii; Petrified Forest National Monument; George Washington Carver National Monument; Death Valley National Monument; Mound City National Monument; Scotts Bluff National Monument; Platt; Grand Teton; Statue of Liberty National Monument; Chickamauga National Military Park
Images provided by “The Refresher” magazine, as cited in McCarthy 2019

While the first of these Sprite bottles were introduced in 1966, the latest date that these bottles were created would have probably been 1978 (Lockhart 2011). The primary labeling style of these bottles was white applied color labels with dimples along the sides (Lockhart 2011). While these bottles are not produced today, bottle enthusiasts and beachcombing groups still will collect these unique pieces (Hassett 2016, McCarthy 2019). 

 Sprite bottle with white applied color label
Sprite bottle with white ACL; image from Pickling Pittsburgh 2021
 Sprite bottle with white ACL
Sprite bottle with white ACL; image from Pickling Pittsburgh 2021

The Golden Eagle promotion would not be the last time we see collaborations between the two groups. Since the 1960s, Coca-Cola has provided funding for multiple aspects relating to national parks and monuments. This includes funding for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, funding for visitor education centers at Yellowstone and Gettysburg National Military Parks, and funding for recycling and trail programs at national parks (Hanna n.d., McCarthy 2019). 

Since CAP’s identification of the Sequoia National Park Sprite bottle, two more Golden Eagle-era Sprite bottles have been cataloged, also from the 2020 Service Road excavations. One has Olympic National Park on its base, while the other has Isle Royale National Park. Both were produced by Anchor Hocking (Lockhart et al. n.d. (a)). Hopefully, future excavations on campus will produce even more of these unique Sprite bottles!

Olympic National Park Sprite bottle
Olympic National Park Sprite bottle
Base of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle
Base of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle
Side of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle with white ACL
Side of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle with white ACL
 Other side of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle with white ACL
Other side of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle with white ACL

References 

  • Hanna, Amber
    No date. “Celebrating Nearly 10 Decades of Park Partnership with Coca-Cola.” Electronic document, nationalparks.org. Available online, https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/celebrating-nearly-10-decades-park-partnership-coca-cola. Accessed February, 2022. 
  • Hassett, Jana
    2016 Sprite and the National Parks. Electronic document, https://frontierhomestead.org/homestead-telegraph/category/glass+bottles, accessed February, 2022. 
  • Lockhart, Bill
    2011. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Alamogordo (1955-present). In Soda Bottles and Bottling at Alamogordo, New Mexico. Privately published. 
  • Lockhart, Bill, Bill Lindsey, Carol Serr, Pete Schulz, and Beau Schriever
    No date (a). “Manufacturer’s Marks and Other Logos on Glass Containers.” Article, sha.org. Available online, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/ALogoTable.pdf. Accessed February, 2022.
  • Lockhart, Bill, Bill Lindsey, Carol Serr, Pete Schulz, and Beau Schriever
    No date (b). “Manufacturer’s Marks and Other Logos on Glass Containers.” Article, sha.org. Available online, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/CLogoTable.pdf. Accessed February, 2022. 
  • McCarthy, Mary T
    2019 Sprite Delight. Electronic document, https://www.beachcombingmagazine.com/blogs/news/sprite-delight, accessed February, 2022.  
  • National Park Service
    2019 2019 National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program. Electronic document, https://www.nps.gov/amis/planyourvisit/passes.htm, accessed February, 2022.
  • Picking Pittsburgh
    2021 Vintage Sprite 7oz Green Glass Bottle Embosed Dots Coca Cola Company National Parks Monuments. Electronic document, https://www.pickingpittsburgh.com/listing/508567537/vintage-sprite-7oz-green-glass-bottle, accessed February, 2022.
Visibility of Indigenous Students in Michigan State University’s History

Visibility of Indigenous Students in Michigan State University’s History

It has been nearly 167 years since Michigan State University first opened its doors in 1855. Starting with only three buildings, five faculty members, and 63 male students, it has grown to encompass 5,192 acres and has over 50,000 students enrolled, making it the state’s 

Getting ‘Ghosted’: Calamitous Clay Creations from the Outré Outhouse

Getting ‘Ghosted’: Calamitous Clay Creations from the Outré Outhouse

During archaeological excavations, some of the most ubiquitous artifacts unearthed are ceramic sherds that were once part of bowls, plates, vases, or other decorative pieces. It is relatively easy to appreciate the skills and techniques that go into the creation of meticulously crafted ceramic vessels. 

CAP Update: Spring 2022

CAP Update: Spring 2022

Here at Michigan State we welcome winter as we return to classes and our labs. I would like share what we have been up to over break and provide a preview of what CAP will be working on this semester.

What We Did Over The Break

Logo for the 2022 SHA conference

Over break CAP fellows finalized our presentation for the 2022 Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology where we were to present at a session on Campus Archaeology and Community Collaboration. This conference was held from January 5 – 8 in Philadelphia, PA. Unfortunately, the representatives from CAP elected not attend the conference due to the current rise in COVID-19 cases, but Benjamin Akey kindly recorded our presentation so it could be played in our absence.

In this talk we share our investigation of the mid-20th century Service Road midden (trash dump) found at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan and the related history of temporary post-World War II student housing on campus. The first part provides a historical overview of the post-World War II campus and of the midden site. The second and third sections explore in greater depth the cosmetic vessels and institutional ware ceramics recovered from the Service Road Midden. A study of MSU’s institutional ware ceramics provides both a reliable way to date the midden deposit and, by exploring their decorative styles, identify the places on campus where the ceramics were used and, thus, where some of the assemblage may have come from. A study of cosmetic and bodily-hygiene products provides insights into the negotiation of gendered identities on a campus that—for the first time—included a large proportion of married students and their families. 

We have added our presentation here and we hope you enjoy it:

Video of CAP’s presentation at the 2022 SHA conference

What We Have Coming Up:

This spring we are looking forward to:

  • participating in MSU’s Science Festival – we will have booth with hands-on activities, a new exhibit, and archaeologists to answer questions about the archaeology and the university’s history.
  • creating a new geocaching tours and locations
  • presenting talks on campus
  • preparing for summer fieldwork
  • sharing our archaeology choose-your-own-adventure games
  • performing new research on our lab collections
  • writing new blogs
  • and welcoming a new cohort of undergraduate CAP interns

Stay tuned for all of this and more as we continue to work to share and protect MSU’s cultural heritage in 2022 and beyond.

All the Names She Could not Bear

All the Names She Could not Bear

A Salty Tale I wanted this blog to be about patents, not Ruth Van Tellingen. Or should I call her Ruth Bendel? Or Ruth Elizabeth Thompson? I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we delve into Ruth’s life, let’s review the concept of patents as they 

Walking Through MSU’s Culinary Past

Walking Through MSU’s Culinary Past

When COVID hit our campus, CAP was forced to rethink how we perform our community outreach. We needed new, innovative ways to engage and educate the public without requiring them to meet in large groups. One of the ways we did this was to transition 

Shedding light on faded artifacts: How to rediscover marks using UV light and phone apps

Shedding light on faded artifacts: How to rediscover marks using UV light and phone apps

The artifacts that we find in the archaeological record can tell us so much about the past – but what happens when the decorative elements of an artifact are worn away? Luckily, technology has provided with potential tools to help us identify faded applied color labels on glass artifacts and overglaze designs on ceramic artifacts! 

Let’s start with some background information about the types of artifacts discussed in this blog post. Applied color labels, or ACLs, have existed since CE 221 in China. Through time, there was a transition from manually created screen prints to a machine that could apply silkscreens to curved surfaces by the early 1930s (Lockhart and Brown 2019). Decorative overglaze ceramics typically have decorative designs painted on top of the glazed-ceramic surface (Florida Museum n.d.). Because of the way that these decorations are applied to their respective artifacts, they can wear off with time. 

Recently, we cataloged a green glass bottle from the Spartan Village project that had only shadows left from the original ACL. We were able to identify the writing on the bottle by rotating the bottle under strong light. We identified it as a “Better Air” air deodorizer, a product that would have been used to help obliterate “obnoxious odors” in the home. While we were able to eventually identify this artifact and the words that would have been a part of the ACL, it took a few hours to identify the directions and additional information on the sides of the bottle.

Inspired by a thread in a historical archaeology listserv (yes, listservs still exist!), we decided to use a long-wave ultraviolet (UV) flashlight to identify the writing quicker (Walter et al. 2021) . UV light is electromagnetic radiation that can help us detect any features not be seen with just visible light (Pinter 2017). Because it is relatively affordable (and CAP already has UV flashlights in the lab to help identify uranium glass from previous excavations), this method could provide CAP fellows with a quick and effective way to find out what ACLs would have said before they wore off.  

green Better Air bottle under normal light with lettering only partially visiblegreen Better Air bottle under ultra violet light, previously unseen letters become clearly visible

We found that the ACL shadows were, in fact, readable under the long-wave UV light. The angle of the UV flashlight was easy to manipulate too, allowing us to read the phrases on each green-glass fragment relatively easily. This process was simple and quick, providing future CAP fellows a quick and effective way to conduct future cataloging and research of glass artifacts with only ACL shadows present. 

Glass artifacts are not the only ones that lose their designs over time. Archaeologists face similar identification issues with the fading of decorative overglaze ceramics. So we decided to test the UV flashlight on a whiteware ceramic with decorated overglaze. 

Decorated overglaze ceramic under normal light (left) and under longwave UV light (right)

While the outline of the design was roughly visible with the UV flashlight, it still was not clear. So we decided to use iDStretch, an app designed for iPhones to help enhance rock art and faint pictographs. This method uses decorrelation stretch, enhancing images that are hard to see with the human eye (Harman n.d.).

After trying out a few different color combinations, we were able to identify the shape of the leaf design that had worn off with time. By using iDStretch, we can more easily identify any shadows present from previous decorative overglaze designs. 

Decorated overglaze ceramic under normal light (left) and under iDStretch (right)

Technology allows archaeologists to quickly identify any missing decorative aspects of artifacts in a quick timeframe. This lets us better describe and identify the artifacts that we come across, especially here on MSU’s campus!

References

The Florida Museum 

 No date “WHITEWARE, OVERGLAZED- type index.” Article, floridamuseum.ufl.edu. Available online, https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/typeceramics/type/whiteware-overglazed/. Accessed November 2021.

Lockhart, Bill and Bob Brown 

 2019 “The Glamorous Applied Color Labels.” Article, sha.org. Available online, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/ACLArticle2019.pdf. Accessed November 2021.

Harman, Jon

 No date. “DStretch.” Article, dstretch.com. Available online, https://www.dstretch.com/. Accessed November 2021.

Walter, Susan, Denis Gojak, and Keith Doms (2021) “Fugitive Exposure” HistArch Listserv. November, 2021

Pinter, Matt 

 2017 “Applying ultraviolet lighting in machine vision applications.” Article, vision-systems.com. Available online, https://www.vision-systems.com/cameras-accessories/article/16737654/applying-ultraviolet-lighting-in-machine-vision-applications. Accessed November 2021. 

Looking to Have a Good Twine? Get Ready for Our New Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Archaeology Twine!

Looking to Have a Good Twine? Get Ready for Our New Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Archaeology Twine!

Here at Campus Archaeology, we love outreach – just this past week, we presented at both Michigan Archaeology Day and at our annual Apparitions and Archaeology Tour! (Thank you to those who stopped by!) We love outreach so much because we are passionate about archaeology