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 …
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.
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 The Golden Eagle Passport has since been discontinued and has been replaced by the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Annual Pass (National Park Service 2019).
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).
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!
- 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.
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 …
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. …
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
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:
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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 …