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…
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…
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 there at its inception, Dr. Brock is responsible for helping to build the CAP program, including both its physical and digital presences.
As part of our ongoing series highlighting CAP alumni, CAP Director Dr. Stacey Camp sat down with Dr. Brock to ask him about his time as Campus Archaeologist and what it was like to be there at the birth of the program.
SC: Can you tell us a little bit about the years that you served and how you got involved in Campus Archaeology?
TB: I was the first person to hold the job of Campus Archaeologist, which was when I was in graduate school. Even before that, my [undergraduate] field school was actually the Saints’ Rest project, which was sort of like Campus Archaeology before there was Campus Archaeology. Then, when I started the graduate program there were a couple surveys that a number of graduate students worked on. I took part in that and that was when I learned they were going to be hiring a Campus Archaeologist and [starting the Campus Archaeology Program].
I was super interested in that for a number of reasons. It was going to give me a lot of field experience that I didn’t feel I actually had prior to being in graduate school. But also I grew up in East Lansing so I grew up on Michigan State’s campus. My dad’s a faculty member at Michigan State so since I was two, I’ve been part of Michigan State’s community. In a strange way I’m a stakeholder – a member of the local community. It was really neat that I got to bring that lived experience of being on campus to the actual study of the campus. And then I got to work with Lynne Goldstein [founder and former director of CAP], which was really fantastic as well.
SC: What was it like to be a member of CAP during its formative days and what were your experiences like during that time?
TB: It was super exciting to be part of Campus Archaeology at the very beginning because we were building everything. There was no model for what a campus archaeology program would look like. No one else had ever done this before, and that made the process really exciting. I imagine Lynne knew exactly what she was doing every single step on the way….
SC: Usually she does!
TB: But for me it was a really fascinating experience to be a part of something from the very beginning and to learn from Lynne and watch her work and then be a part of it. The most important part was the relationship building. Lynne had an entire career’s worth of relationships already built at Michigan State from her time as [Anthropology Department] Chair. She did a lot of maneuvering to make sure that I, as Campus Archaeologist, was in the right place at the right time, but then I had to do the work of making sure that we were actually demonstrating value and building relationships so that we’d get the phone call next time.
The other part that was really fun was actually figuring out what Campus Archaeology was going to be. Like, how were we going to tie what we we’re doing into the department, into the university, so that its value is demonstrated beyond what we as archaeologists think is important? How do we actually tie that to what the institution values?
That’s when we established the focus on education, research, and outreach and tying those to things the institution cares about. Public engagement is important because that is what Land Grant education is, working with communities and doing outreach work. Research is obvious, and education—that’s where the [internship and fellowship] programs came into being.
The Campus Archaeologist job in and of itself is an educational opportunity. For me personally that was enormously valuable because I was learning how to do archaeology while I was doing this job. I didn’t have the field experience to be leading crews, but I was able to gain that experience and learn so much. It provided me a space to fail, which I did repeatedly.
SC: That’s what grad school is about.
TB: I sometimes shudder to think about when later Campus Archaeologists look back at the work we did – I’m pretty sure we didn’t document that [site] as well as we could have, or in retrospect that probably wasn’t the right survey methodology – but it was a space where I could learn that stuff and that was okay. I got that mentorship from Lynne but I also got it from all the other graduate students that were working on these projects.
I think that is one of the really important parts of Campus Archaeology. You are learning as you are doing. It’s hands on. Super “Land Grant.”
SC: In our interview with Chris Stawski he was very complimentary of your and Dr. Goldstein’s skill at incorporating social media into CAP’s outreach strategy. Could you tell me how you used social media for CAP to benefit it during your time in the program?
TB: We got into social media in, I think, January of 2009. I had been on Twitter for a little while and started to see the utility of it as an outreach tool really early on.
I started tweeting photos from the field because I was working on a lot of projects that no one could access. We had decided that public outreach was going to be one of the things Campus Archaeology was about. But how do I do public archaeology when I’m monitoring a backhoe that’s digging a 20-foot hole behind a fence next to the Brody Complex? How do I share that? I can’t set up an info tape or do a site tour. This was a way to provide access and talk about the process of what was going on when people couldn’t physically visit the site.
I pitched it to Lynne and she said, “Go for it!” So we started the Campus Archaeology Twitter account. What was wonderful was we could reach people that we wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise because of access to the site. But we could also reach our stakeholders—alums, current students, the local Lansing area community—without having to leave campus. We could be a really loud, big voice in the social media space when we were actually only a part time grad student and Lynne Goldstein.
It led to all kinds of really neat collaborations and relationships that I think the program has really benefited from. Like with Dining Services, these random-seeming connections can happen in this social media space.
SC: And we’ve built those longstanding connections now with Dining Services. We’ve done all kinds of really fun partnerships the last couple of years. So it can definitely lead to productive relationships!
TB: What was great about those is there was the digital part, but there was also meeting people in person—using Twitter as a means of also bringing people together. That’s really how it started and our thought process behind it. We had specific things we were trying to do with it. Groups we were trying to communicate to. And I think for the most part it was really successful.
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…
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…
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 month, and even from year to year. Some years are busier than others, especially if they involve field schools or big publications (like a book or site report). Other years have more downtime so that laboratory research and writing associated with field school work can get done. As a result, I try to think about what I need to accomplish professional 5 to 10 years out. This helps me figure out what I absolutely need to get done in order to move projects forward (e.g. getting grants, finishing laboratory work, etc.) and publish about them.
My day to day work as an academic is varied, which I enjoy. Here’s what today looks like:
7:50am: Get my daughter on the school bus and say goodbye to my son, who goes to school with my husband.
9am: Arrive at my office. Check email and say hello to my colleagues.
9:40am: Set out ceramics and artifacts to prepare students in my laboratory class for a quiz this Friday.
10:20am-11:10am: Teach my laboratory methods class.
11:10-11:30am: Talk to students from the class about my field school and answer any class questions.
11:30am-12pm: Pack up the ceramics I pulled out for class and start reviewing the artifact cataloging work my lab methods class started this week.
12pm: Eat lunch with my colleagues and graduate students in the archaeology wing of my department.
1pm-2pm: Hold our weekly MSU Campus Archaeology Program project meeting with graduate student fellows and our Campus Archaeologist.
2pm-3pm: Host our weekly MSU Campus Archaeology Program writing hour.
3pm-3:30pm: Meet with an undergraduate student who is working on an article with me.
3:30pm-4pm: Catch up on work emails.
4pm-5pm: Grade discussion papers from my laboratory methods class; enter attendance data; start planning for Friday’s lecture on identifying historic glass.
Every now and then I have the opportunity to do something really exciting. Last week, I was able to visit the University of Helsinki (courtesy of faculty member Dr. Suzie Thomas) to give two talks and learn more about the WWII and POW heritage of Finland. I was able to spend my days meeting with scholars about their research. I was able to visit the National Museum of Finland as well as the World Heritage Site of Suomenlinna, a historic fortress that dates to the mid-18th century.
I would guess my day usually starts off like most people’s days: I get to the office and respond to emails. This semester most of the emails I receive are from students in the class I am teaching—Forensic Anthropology and Osteology. I spend at least part of every day doing something related to teaching: preparing lectures, giving lectures, meeting with students, or grading papers. I really enjoy this part of my day! Other mornings might start off at the morgue assisting with a forensic case. Every case is different. Our lab might be asked to analyze a skeleton and develop a biological profile—including sex, age, ancestry, and stature—to compare to missing person’s reports. Another type of case involves identifying a deceased person by comparing x-rays taken at the morgue to medical x-rays taken while the person was alive. When I get back to the office after the case, I write up a report to give to the medical examiner. The rest of the day I spend working on my dissertation research, which takes an experimental approach to studying skeletal trauma. Research work looks a little different depending on the day. On experiment days I work with a team of anthropologists and engineers to observe how bones break in a controlled laboratory setting. Other days I spend reading so I can develop better research questions or try to figure out what my results mean. Other days I collect data. Right now I am using methods from the field of fractography (the study of broken surfaces) to look at experimentally broken bones. I am trying to see if I can use these methods to figure out where a fracture started and ended. If it does work, this could help anthropologists figure out how a bone in a forensic or bioarchaeological case was broken.
If I am not out in the field excavating, I spend my days bouncing between various projects. These projects keep me busy and ensure that I interact with a number of different people each day. I am currently teaching my first course, on ‘Great Discoveries in Archaeology.’ My early mornings are often filled with lecturing, grading, or preparing for a future lecture. This week I am preparing lectures on paleolithic cave art! I will then spend some time down in one of our archaeology labs, collecting data on ceramics and other artifacts in order to look at past food practices and what they can tell us about various aspects of ancient society. In the afternoons, I try to spend some time analyzing collected data or writing, either on my dissertation, a publication, or the occasional grant proposal.
For me, a typical day as an anthropologist involves the both the physical and digital preservation of artifacts and physical remains. As a bioarchaeologist, I reconstruct human remains that have broken down over time. Most of the human skeletal remains I work with come from heavily looted contexts so our excavations are commonly salvage in nature. Reconstructing these remains allows us give back some of the humanity to these individuals rather than being seen as bones that were in the way of ancient pots that looters were looking for. Furthermore, I routinely employ photogrammetry in my work which takes sets of images of an object and creates a 3D model. These models digitally preserve both human and material remains that may continue to degrade. By digitally preserving these as 3D models, these objects can be studied long after the materials break down and can be easily shared to other researchers or the public. As an anthropologist, getting to be a part of cultural preservation for future generations is incredibly gratifying and makes coming to work each day feel like a gift rather than a job.
A day in the life of Biological Anthropologist looks different from day to day. We study human skeletal remains to answer questions about people from the past and the present. A typical day for me is jumping between tasks from conducting and writing research to working with medical examiners and law enforcement across the state to help solve crimes. We visit medical examiners offices where we compare x-rays of a deceased individual, one x-ray taken while the person was alive and one taken after death. We can compare the shape and features of bones between the two images to try to identify the person and return them to their families for a proper burial. Sometimes, we may bring the skeleton of an unknown individual back to our lab where we can measure and analyze the bones and determine the person’s ancestry, sex, age, and stature. After hours of closely examining the bones, I return to my desk to write an official report of my findings and submit the report to the medical examiner in charge of the case. The legal system will them compare my findings to missing persons reports in attempts of matching demographic information between the missing person and the unknown decedent leading to an identification. In my downtime, I work on my personal research examining the role of climate and genetics in shaping the human facial skeleton to understand human variation on a global scale.
Each day as the MSU Campus Archaeologist looks a little different! This time of the year is filled with preparations for field work that will begin at the start of the summer semester. Some days I attend meetings with IPF (Infrastructure Planning and Facilities) at MSU to discuss their planned construction projects and if any of them would impact an archaeological resources. However, I usually spend my days working with graduate fellows on their research projects as needed, researching potential areas of impact for upcoming campus construction projects, writing reports from the previous field season, and doing lab work. In addition to my duties as campus archaeologist, I am also preparing to take my comprehensive exams and writing my dissertation proposal for my personal research on prehistoric foodways and social interaction.
As an anthropologist and archaeologist, a good day is one in which I gain a new perspective on a particular history. This can involve being part of an archaeological excavation where a team of archaeologists and associated stakeholders recover some material culture, an artifact or feature, that expands our understanding of history or a group of people. A day where I gain a new perspective may involve laboratory work. In the lab archaeologists wash, analyses, sort, or catalogue the material remains they found in excavations, often during the activates archaeologists reveal new information about the artifacts. Finding an inscription on an object or a specific decorative pattern on a ceramic plate can give the researcher a completely new understanding of the place or group of people they are investigating. I might also gain a new perspective through a day where I engage in archival research, looking at historic documents and writings of past peoples. These documents can give context to my research and guide my questions, but they can also indicate something different than what the archaeology found, which is always interesting. The final way that I may gain a new perspective on history is speaking with non-archaeologists about the lives of their families and ancestors. In anthropology these individuals or descendant communities provide important connections between our work and the real people we are studying, they also have their own meaningful questions and perspectives that make descendants an essential aspect of many archaeological investigation. If any of these many events were to occur in a particular day my understanding of the past would be expanded and I would consider that a very good day.
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…
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…
Today sodas high in sugar are considered indulgent treats or unhealthy drinks, often disparaged as empty calories. Over the last decade consumption of these and other sugary beverages has dropped by nearly twenty percent (NY Times). However, this was not always the case, the development of sodas in the United States was closely tied to that of patent medicines as both were made by pharmacists and claimed to have natural healing and rejuvenating properties.
Comparisons of these early advertisements and this warming poster will illustrate how much has changed since the turn of the 20th century. Consumers today may wonder how early sodas made these health-based claims and what was going on in America during this period that could have popularized soft drinks as a healthy option?
Part of the answer can be found in the historical investigation of a small bottle found during CAP’s excavations of Faculty Row. The bottle, labeled on all four sides reads, “HIRES IMPROVED ROOT BEER // Manufactured By Charles E. Hires Co. // MAKES FIVE GALLONS OF A DELICIOUS DRINK // PHILADELPHIA PA”. It’s a small extract/patent medicine bottle and measures 11.5 cm tall and 4 cm wide at the base. Based on the bottles body, base, and finish ( the top) we know it was mold-blow and tool-finished, rather than machine made. This gives the bottle a likely manufacturing date somewhere between 1890 and the mid-1920s (SHA Bottle Guide). It is possible to further determine the bottle’s manufacturing date, by investigating the “C 2” embossed on the base and other features of the body.
Historical archaeologists typically use maker marks, the embossed logos of the bottle producers, to find the earliest possible date for the artifact. Unfortunately, “C” is not a unique identifier, so it is difficult to pin to a specific bottle factory or to even be certain it is a maker’s mark. Additionally, while the Gould Amendment in 1913 required that bottles be embossed with their volume (Meadows 2006: 2-3), there is no indication that the “2” on this bottle relates to its volume.
However, it is possible to use the mold vents on the body of the bottle to roughly estimate of the bottles manufacturing date. For mold-blown bottles vent marks and manufacture date are positively correlated, a high number of marks suggest the bottle would have been made in the later years of the 1890-1925 spread. The Hires extract bottle found at Faculty Row has mold vent marks on almost every embossed letter, just what one would expect from a mold-blown bottle made in the 20th century (SHA Bottle Guide).
From the text embossed on the bottle, it is apparent that this bottle was part of a “root beer kit” developed by Charles E. Hires, a Philadelphia pharmacist and entrepreneur, who is credited with the first commercially produced root beer soda. Hires purportedly took a recipe for spiced root from an unnamed innkeeper after trying it as her guest and used this recipe to develop a powered, and later liquid extract, which when mixed with sugar, water, and yeast and left to brew would make five gallons of root beer soda. His concoction was a hit at Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Expo and in 1890 Charles E. Hires Company was incorporated (Funderburg 2002: 93-4).
A key to Hires’ success was his aggressive commitment to marketing, in in span of three months in 1893 Hires spent more than $200,000 on advertising (Funderburg 2002: 94). Like other sodas of the time Hires root beer was touted to have numerous healing and invigorating effects. One ad from 1881 claims, “[Hires Improved Root Beer] has solved the problem of medicine by imparting strength and pure blood, which soon gives a person a clear and healthy complexion” (Hoolilhan 2001). However, Hires also focused on making his drink the popular choice of the temperance movement. Another ad highlights the drink’s purity, ““A pure food temperance drink that satisfies every thirst, revives the appetite, creates nerve force – prepares you for the daily task…” (State Museum of Pennsylvania 2015).
Hires originally named the drink root tea, changing it to root beer in an attempt to attract Pennsylvania miners. He convinced temperance organizations, who had previously critiqued the drink, that it “contained half as much alcohol as a loaf of homemade bread” (Funderburg 2002: 93-4). In 1920 Prohibition became national law and Hires Improved Root Beer, already positioned as a healthy and moral alternative to alcoholic beer, uniquely benefited from the temperance movement.
How does this relate to Michigan State University? The Hires bottle was found during a CAP excavation of Faculty Row in 2008. Constructed in 1855, Faculty Row was first designed as a series of independent homes for Michigan Agricultural College faculty. As the college expanded at the start of the 20th century, faculty began to move out and the buildings were increasingly used by students. By the end of the 1940s M. A. C. had become Michigan State College and many of the buildings of Faculty Row were replaced by the West Circle Dormitory Complex (CAP – Faculty Row Exhibit). It is likely that the Hires bottle dates to this period of transition, when Faculty Row was occupied by both students and educators.
The interpretation of the bottle’s significance changes somewhat depending on its manufacture date and the changing occupancy of Faculty Row. Drinking of alcohol has been prohibited on MSU’s campus since its inception and while students and faculty alike skirt these restrictions (Painter 2017), the topic of temperance and prohibition was often discussed and highly supported in the early 1900’s. In a review of the MSU archives website, I discovered numerous articles in the M.A.C. Recorder dating from 1901 to 1924 that refer to prohibition. Most of these articles include updates from the University’s Prohibition Club raising awareness and support for prohibition.
Three articles, dating from 1916 to 1924, illustrate the atmosphere towards prohibition on campus at the time. In 1916, the paper published an anonymous survey asking students whether they supported or opposed prohibition. They found that, “a large percentage of the students in favor of prohibition.” (M. A. C. Recorder July 6th, 1916). However, later that year the paper ran another article asking “Does Prohibition Prohibit?” and reporting a story where a math professor and President Kedzie intercepted a suitcase full of whiskey and anti prohibition fliers. The author praises the authorities and criticizes the efforts of “wet forces” to disparage prohibition efforts (M. A. C. Recorder Oct. 3rd, 1916).
A third article, this one during prohibition, seems to show dissent in the general student body as the administration canceled a vote among student and faculty to see if they preferred the law or wished it would be changed or abolished. The paper writes, “apparently the fear that the registered vote might not indicate the actual sentiment of the campus was one of the considerations which prompted the suppression of the movement” (M. A. C. Recorder March 17th, 1924).
While it is exceedingly likely that students and faculty alike circumvented campus and federal alcohol restrictions there was also a portion of M. A. C.’s population that strongly supported prohibition. The presence of Hires Improved Root Beer, a widely know temperance drink and whose founder was an ardent supporter of the movement raises interesting questions about the political context of its use. Alcohol use had to be kept quiet and likely could only be done safely with trusted friends and colleagues. Faculty members and students may have presented themselves as supportive of prohibition in public and acted differently in private. For them, serving and consuming this Hires Improved Root Beer may have been a useful tactic to avoid suspicion.
For those truly in support of the movement, Hires may have been a powerful symbolic reminder of the larger support for prohibition and a sign that one was committed to temperance conceptions of health and purity.
As we know, definitions of what is healthy and what is not change rapidly. This bottle represents a period in the public discussion of health, enacted and debated through the everyday lives of MSU’s population. Whether it was a point of political and moral tension or simply a delicious drink, the consumption of Hires Improved Root Beer demonstrates the ways in which our consumer choices can tell stories about our lives. What do the things you buy while on campus tell about you and do those differ from what you consume at home?
M. A. C. Recorder 1916 Does Prohibition Prohibit? In M. A. C. Recorder, Vol. XXIL. Michigan Agricultural College
M. A. C. Recorder 1916 How Students Stand On State Prohibition. In M. A. C. Recorder, Vol. XXL. Michigan Agricultural College
M. A. C. Recorder 1924 Prohibition Vote Is Headed Off. In M. A. C. Recorder, Vol. XXIX. Michigan Agricultural College
CAP 2009 Faculty Row: The Homes of MSU’s Founders. MSU CAP.
Bakalar, N. 2017 Americans Are Putting Down the Soda Pop. In The New York Times. The New York Times, NY.
Emery, K. M. 2016 Faculty Row, M. S. U. C. A. Program, Michigan State University.
Funderburg, A. C. 2002 Sundae best: a history of soda fountains. Bowling Green State University Popular Press
Hoolihan, C. 2001 A annotated catalogue of the Edward C. Atwater collection of american popular medicine and health reform. University of Rochester press
Lindsey, B. 2019 Medicinal/Chemical/Druggist Bottles. Society for Historical Archaeology https://sha.org/bottle/medicinal.htm#Druggist%20Bottle%20Dating%20Summary/Notes.
FDA Consumer magazine 2006 A Century of Ensuring Safe Foods and Cosmetics. FDA Consumer magazine (Issue):1-11.
Painter, A. 2017 BLIND PIGS, JAZZ, AND BOLSHEVISM: THE SPIRIT(S) OF REVOLT AT MICHIGAN STATE. In MSU Campus Archaeology Program. MSU CAP
Patton, K. 2009 Hires Root Beer: The Great Health Drink. https://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/literary-cultural-heritage-map-pa/feature-articles/hires-root-beer-great-health-drink
Yates, Don. 2005 Charles E. Hires Company 1870 – Present Philadelphia, PA. Bottles and Extras Summer 2005(Issue).
As I have discussed in previous posts, my project for this year in CAP is to make 3D models of different artifacts found around campus that we have here in our collections. You may have also seen many of these on our Instagram and Twitter…