CAPBlog

MSU Science Fest 2019: CAP at Expo Day

MSU Science Fest 2019: CAP at Expo Day

The MSU Science Festival Expo Day was filled with hundreds, if not thousands of visitors! This year we decided to switch up a few things to try some new ways of reach audiences of all ages. Continue reading to learn about the new additions and […]

MSU at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting 2019

MSU at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting 2019

Interested in hearing what MSU graduate students and professors are presenting at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology? Below is a list compiled including the names, title of presentation/poster, date, time, and location for each MSU scholar! We hope to see […]

Furthering Open Archaeology: Development of the CAP Digital Repository

Furthering Open Archaeology: Development of the CAP Digital Repository

In our previous blog, Jeff Bennett introduced the concept of Open Archaeology and some of the ways that Campus Archaeology (CAP) is maintaining and furthering our position within the framework of Open Archaeology. One of the ways in which we plan to further our efforts in Open Archaeology is to develop a digital repository for all CAP projects and artifacts. A digital repository is essentially a database for storing and managing digital data. Development of the digital repository will be a long-term project that requires cataloging artifacts housed in the CAP lab in a standardized way and importing a large amount of information in the repository. Our aim is to develop a public interface so that all of our data is freely available.

We have met with Dr. Ethan Watrall, Associate Director of the Matrix Lab, who is helping with the technical aspects in developing the repository. Matrix has created their own open-source content management system, known as KORA, with the intention of curating digital humanities projects. Two special features of KORA highlighted by Matrix are its ability to be accessed from a web browser and the flexibility in customizing the type and style of metadata associated with the objects. This means that CAP will be able to control how the public interacts with the data and, essentially, the narrative we would like tell about MSU’s history through our artifacts. KORA is currently undergoing updates with the intention of releasing KORA3 in the upcoming months. CAP is working closely with Dr. Watrall to learn the new system and we plan to begin developing the project as soon as the new version is released.

Currently, much of our data is stored in a series of excel files specific to each project. The CAP digital repository will create a central location for all data associated with past and present CAP projects, including site records (e.g. site forms, images, and maps) and artifacts. Further, by creating standardized forms for inputting data, we will create a completely standardized collection and a requirement for recording data in a standardized way in the future. This project will require that all artifacts be cataloged following standards set by the Society for Historical Archaeology so that all artifacts are being identified with the same terminology and have the same type of data recorded, such as weight and other measurements.

The way in which we structure the user interface is a critical component of the project. KORA projects are structured using a series of data entry levels, including the Project, Entity, and Record. The largest data level is Project, which contains all of the entities and records within it. The Project for our digital repository will simply be the “CAP Digital Repository”. This means that all of our data will be encompassed within this single project. Next, we will create the entities. The entities will be what we want to be the central focus of the repository. In this case, each CAP project, or site, will be an entity so that all data (site forms and artifacts) will be organized based on the site with which it is associated. Therefore, the entity would likely be a site report, such as “Saints Rest” or “Beal Street”. The final structure level is the most refined level of data known as records. Records are contained within entities. Our repository records will be any site forms and/or artifacts associated with a site, or entity. Records will have standardized forms with dropdown menus to select from a set list of terms in order to create an efficient and effective searchable database. We will also be able to link images and scanned documents with each record form so that users will be able to view the tangible record.

The CAP digital repository will create a central location of all data associated with CAP projects improving the overall quality of our collection and making future research easier as future CAP fellows, as well as public users, can easily search and view our entire collection. We believe that Open Archaeology is the future of archaeological science by creating complete transparency between archaeologists and the public, as well as between researchers and institutions. Having a digital presence will allow the public to explore MSU’s history in a unique fashion through tangible artifacts.

An Introduction to Open Archaeology

An Introduction to Open Archaeology

Figure 1: The Campus Archaeology Program’s virtual exhibit of MSU History An example of how archaeologists can share material culture with a broad public. For this week’s blog post I wanted to give an introduction to open archaeology as it ties to public outreach and […]

Alumni Highlight: Terry Brock

Alumni Highlight: Terry Brock

Dr. Terry Brock is a historical and public archaeologist, and is currently the Assistant Director of Archaeology at the Montpelier Foundation in Orange, Virginia. He served as the first Campus Archaeologist from 2008 to 2010 while a graduate student at MSU. As someone who was […]

Just a Pipe Dream: The use of Wooden Water Pipes at MSU

Just a Pipe Dream: The use of Wooden Water Pipes at MSU

One of the most important infrastructural aspects of buildings today is how to get water to and from the building. Plumbing, of sorts, has been archaeologically visible and investigated at sites throughout the world. The earliest evidence of plumbing dates back to the civilizations of ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley in India, each at around 4000 BC. Since then, plumbing innovations and techniques have been refined into the elaborate systems we see today, such as using AI and Machine-Learning technologies in water management. However, it might be surprising to learn that just over 100 years ago, many water pipes on MSU’s campus were constructed of wood.

Different views of a 3D model of the Wyckoff wooden water pipe found during Faculty Row excavations.
Different views of a 3D model of the Wyckoff wooden water pipe found during Faculty Row excavations. (3D model will be view-able 3-18-2019)

Former MSU Campus Archaeologist Dr. Terry Brock excavated one of these wooden water pipes in 2008 along Faculty Row and wrote an initial blog post about it, linked here [1]. Dr. Brock analyzed the water pipe and concluded that it was a specific type of water pipe called a Wyckoff pipe, from the Wyckoff Pipe and Creosoting Company. Moreover, this pipe was likely manufactured at the Michigan Pipe Co. in Bay City, Michigan, one of the largest producers of wooden pipes in the entire country. Wooden water pipes using the Wyckoff augur started being produced in Bay County, Michigan in 1871 with the Northwestern Gas and Water Pipe Company. Ten years later, this company was succeeded by the Michigan Pipe Company [2]. Since buildings on Faculty Row were constructed throughout the last half of the 19th century, it is likely that the college bought their wooden water pipes from the Michigan Pipe Company.

Sketch of the North Western Gas & Water Pipe Company (that eventually became the Michigan Pipe Company) in Bay City, MI, ca. 1870s. Image from “History of Bay County”.

Other CAP excavations have revealed water pipe fragments, most commonly made of salt-glazed ceramic material. So why would the college have been using wooden water pipes? The answer likely lies in what was happening at the college at the time as well as Michigan’s climate.

As the (then called) State Agricultural College greatly expanded in the last quarter of the 19th century, partly as a result of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts, cheaper materials were favored in some areas of construction to aid in this rapid expansion. Wooden water pipes were generally thought to be out of use or favor by this time, having their hey-day in the early to mid-19th century. However, the Michigan Pipe Co. was actually flourishing. They claimed that their improved Wyckoff wooden water pipe was cheaper in terms of material and upkeep, resistant to frost due to the thick nature of the pipes (the logs), maintained cleaner water due to their tarred insulation, and being constructed of wood made the pipes more elastic and less resistant to burst or breaking [2,3]. It appears that this sales pitch was convincing enough for the college at the time as these pipes were installed along Faculty Row. The overall cheaper nature of the wooden pipes compared to iron pipes were no doubt a positive for the rapidly expanding college. Additionally, Michigan’s harsh winters meant that water pipes needed be able to flow in some of the coldest conditions. The claim that the wood water pipes decreased the likelihood of frost within the pipes would have also been a major draw.

Wyckoff Wooden Water Pipe advertisement an 1896 edition of ‘The Michigan Engineers’ Manual’. Original image linked here.

Despite the upsides to these cheaper and seemingly more efficient wooden pipes, the college decided to put them out of commission just a few years into the 20th century. Former CAP Fellow Nicole Raslich posted a blog on water sanitation at the university (linked here [4]), and reported that members during a board meeting in 1902 discussed that the wooden pipes did not provide safe water during the warmer months when water was most in demand. The minutes from this meeting show that they wanted to “replace the present system of wooden water main which have been in use about twenty years, with new iron pipes” [5]. They argued that in warmer months, the wood led to a constant danger of bacteria in the water unless it was boiled after coming out of the tap. So despite the fact that these wooden pipes may have been better for frost prevention, it made the water unsafe over time as the wood aged!

The iron pipes would have been much more expensive to buy and install (and would later lead to problems of their own – many of which the university and the city of Flint are still dealing with), but would have been a better investment overall. This just goes to show that even though water pipe technology is about 6000 years old, this doesn’t mean we’ve perfected it. Technological advances are all trial-and-error, and we will no doubt continue to uncover evidence of this early practice in MSU’s archaeological record.

References:
[1] – Brock, T. Wood Pipes. 2008. Blog post (URL: https://msu.edu/~brockter/files/dc576f2f0bdf61c8f2e164ba5f17e576-76.html)

[2] – The Michigan Pipe Company, InHistory of Bay County, Michigan with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. 1883. Chicago: H.R. Page.

[3] – Wooden Water Pipe. The Manufacturer and Builder, Vol. 18, Issue 1, pp. 4-5, 1886.

[4] – Raslich, N. Water Sanitation at MSU. 2016. Blog post (URL: http://campusarch.msu.edu/?p=3974)

[5] – Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes – 1902, p. 66. (Link to meeting minutes: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/3-F-22B/meeting-minutes-1902/)

Prepping for Summer 2019 Field Work

Prepping for Summer 2019 Field Work

Archival research is one of the backbones of archeological work, especially in historical archaeology. Not only do we conduct archival research to find more information about the people who lived at a particular site and how the site was used, but it is also a […]

Happy Anthropology Day!

Happy Anthropology Day!

To celebrate Anthropology Day, we decided to share a little bit about what each of us typically does during a day or what a good day as an anthropologist looks like! Dr. Stacey Camp:As an academic, my work varies from day to day, month to […]

Looking Ahead: Where to find CAP during summer 2019!

Looking Ahead: Where to find CAP during summer 2019!

While the ground may be covered with inches of snow, CAP is looking ahead to plan for summer construction, in addition to our undergraduate archaeological field school.

As you would have read in a previous blog post, the field school will be taking place near the corner of Shaw and Hagadorn Roads by Holmes Hall. We will be working there from May 13th through June 7th. Stay tuned for the announcement of our public open house day!

There are several construction projects slated to begin this summer!


First, Munn Ice Arena will be under construction for an expansion along the south side of the building. This construction will create a new public “front door” that will include an area for a memorabilia exhibit, additional concessions, new office space, among many other improvements! For this project, we will perform both a pedestrian and shovel test survey of the area before the construction begins, as well as monitor for archaeological remains during the construction process.


The second major construction project for this summer is the new sewer line being put in behind the Brody Complex. If you did not know, the Brody Complex is at the location of a historic East Lansing dump. While this project is being run by the City of East Lansing, not MSU, we are still planning on being present during the excavation phase of construction, as there is a high probability of artifacts being uncovered. This is a great opportunity for CAP to recover artifacts for use in teaching and as well as comparative items.


Third, it is possible that Cowles House, otherwise known as the President’s House, will undergo an addition and site renovations. As we were informed about this project last spring, we have already conducted both a pedestrian survey and a shovel test survey of the potentially impacted area. If this project begins this summer, you will find us monitoring the construction for any archaeological materials.


Finally, a project is slated to begin in the summer of 2020, expanding the south river trail between Bogue Street and Farm Lane, adding a bike path similar to one that exists near the Stadium. For this project, we will conduct shovel tests this summer in preparation for the construction, and will monitor the work in 2020.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on where we are and what we are doing this summer!

Scout’s Honor: We are getting a Girl Scout badge!

Scout’s Honor: We are getting a Girl Scout badge!

Over the past couple of months, Campus Archaeology has been in communications with Girl Scout Regional Program and Event Specialist, Bethany Wilson, to develop an archaeology badge for girl scouts across Michigan. We are elated about our new partnership! These annual events will be a […]