CAPBlog

The most interesting artifact from MSU’s historic campus? The “Moor” artifact, 10 years later

The most interesting artifact from MSU’s historic campus? The “Moor” artifact, 10 years later

If you’ve been following CAP for a while you’ve probably seen us post about the “Moor” artifact: a small piece of mortar sporting the letters “Moor” in handwritten cursive script. Despite its unassuming appearance, what makes this artifact so fascinating is the incredible story behind…

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 you in Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Thursday Morning, April 11, 2019

Poster Session ~ Geoarchaeology in the New World
Room: La SalaTime: 10:30 am – 12:30 am
Sarah Meinekat, Christopher Miller, Emily Milton, & Kurt RademakerQuebrada Jagay – 280 (QJ-280) under the Microscope: A Geoarchaeological Investigation of the Site Formation and Anthropogenic Features at a Peruvian Coastal Site45-c

General Session ~ Bioarchaeology: South American Case Studies
Room: 20 LagunaTime: 11:15 am – 12:00 pm
Richard Sutter, Gabriel Prieto, Celeste Gagnon & Jordi Rivera PrinceHorizontality Revisited: Evidence for 3,000 Years of Prehistoric Biocultural Continuity of Fisherfolk at Huanchaco, North Coast of Peru11:15 am

Thursday Afternoon, April 11, 2019

Symposium ~ Archaeologies of Health, Wellness, and Ability
Room 65 HopiTime: 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Stacey CampHealthcare and Citizenship in the Context of World War II Japanese American Internment2:00 pm

Symposium ~ Capacity Building or Community Making? Training and Transitions in Digital Archaeology
Room: 18 Cochil/30 TaosTime: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Ethan WatrallBuilding Capacity and Communities of Practice in Digital Heritage and Archaeology1:00 pm
Lynne GoldsteinDiscussant4:45 pm

Poster Session ~ Experimental Archaeology in the Americas
Room: Hall 3Time: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Emily Milton & Joshua SchwartzNot Something to Grind Your Teeth Over: Experimental Mounting of Enamel for Stable Isotope and Microscopic Analysis116-g

Thursday Evening, April 11, 2019

Electronic Symposium ~ Towards a Standardization of Photogrammetric Methods in Archaeology: A Conversation about ‘Best Practices’ in an Emerging Methodology
Room: 10 AnasaziTime: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Amy Hair, Gabriel Wrobel, and Jack BiggsThe Maya Cranial Photogrammetric Field Methods in Burial Excavation

Friday Morning, April 12, 2019

Symposium ~ Attention to Detail: A Pragmatic Career of Research, Mentoring, and Service, Papers in Honor of Keith Kintigh
Room 275 Ballroom BTime: 8:00 am – 11:00 am
Vincas Steponaitis & Lynne GoldsteinStruggling with Complex Decision-Making in Public Policy10:00 am

General Session ~ Bioarchaeology in Peru
Room: 22 San JuanTime: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Jordi Rivera Prince & Gabriel PrietoDefining Markers of Occupational Stress in the Ancient Fisherman of Huanchaco, Peru: When Modern Ethnography and Bioarchaeology Intersect11:45 am

Friday Afternoon, April 12, 2019

General Session ~ Paleoindian Archaeology in South America
Room: 60 ChacoTime: 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Lauren Pratt & Kurt RademakerAn Application of Surovell’s Behavioral Ecology Models of Site Occupation Length in the Peruvian Andes3:30 pm
Taylor Panczak & Kurt RademakerExploring Inter-zonial Connections through a Constructed Projectile Point Typology from Cuncaicha Rockshelter3:45 pm

Friday Evening, April 12, 2019

Awards Presentation and Annual Business Meeting
Lifetime Achievement AwardPresented to Lynne Goldstein5:30 – 6:30 pm

Saturday Morning, April 13, 2019

Symposium ~ Archaeological Method and Theory: Papers in Honor of James M. Skibo, Part 1.
Room: 10 AnasaziTime: 8:00 am – 10:00 am
Susan KooimanFunctioning at Full Capacity: The Role of Pottery in the Woodland Upper Great Lakes8:15 am
Autumn Painter & Jeffrey PainterWalk with Me: Reflections on Almost a Lifetime with Dr. James Skibo8:30 am

Symposium ~ Kin, Clan, and House: Social Relatedness in the Archaeology of North American Societies
Room: 240 La CienegaTime: 8:00 am – 11:30 am Chair: Jacob Lulewicz
Lynne GoldsteinAztalan from the Perspective of Institutions of Social Relatedness10:30 am

Poster Session ~ New Discoveries in South American Archaeology
Room: La SalaTime: 8:00 am – 10:00 am
Michael Cook & Kurt RademakerRaw Material Sourcing of Two Terminal Pleistocene Sites in Southern Peru285-e

Saturday Afternoon, April 13, 2019

Poster Session ~ What’s For Dinner? Mesoamerican Diets and Foodways
Room: La SalaTime: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Morgan McDenna, Gabriel Wrobel, Amy Michael, Amy S. Commendador & Patricia McAnany Understanding the Diet of Late to Terminal Classic Period Maya Groups in the Sibun River Valley, Belize, through Food Web Reconstruction370-g
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…

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 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.  

Terry Brock digs a unit during the Beal Street Survey in 2009. A lifelong Spartan and East Lansing native, Terry served as the first Campus Archaeologist from 2008-2010.

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….

Terry Brock cleans an artifact. As Campus Archaeologist, he quickly learned to be prepared for anything. After getting called to a site on short notice one day, he spent the day mitigating in flip flops because he didn’t have time to grab his dig kit. After that, he filled the back of his car with archaeology equipment so he would always be prepared.

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.

The foundations of College Hall, the first academic building on campus. Terry fondly remembers excavating the remains of College Hall, near where Beaumont Tower stands today.

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.

Terry Brock examines an artifact at a dig near Saints’ Rest. This photo was originally posted on the Campus Archaeology Flickr page. Terry played a leading role in establishing CAP’s digital presence. In our interview he discussed how connections made on social media often turned into real-life connections. One fun example: someone once brought the CAP team Biggby coffee because Terry tweeted that it was cold where they were working!

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.

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…

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. Camp in Ireland c. 1998-1998

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.


Mari Isa:
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.


Jeff Painter, CAP Fellow

Jeff Painter:
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.


Jack Biggs:
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.


Amber Plemons:
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.


Autumn Painter, Campus Archaeologist

Autumn Painter:
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.


Jeff Burnett, CAP Fellow

Jeff Burnett:
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.

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…