Capturing Campus Cuisine: The Saga Continues

I am excited to announce that Capturing Campus Cuisine, the food project that Susan Kooiman and myself began this past year will continue! Last year, we studied the earliest period of MSU’s campus from 1855-1870, focusing on the production, processing, and consumption on campus. This research culminated in the recreation of a historic campus meal with the assistance of MSU Culinary Services. You can read more about what we did previously on the project website: earlyfood.campusarch.msu.edu. This year, we will continue to visit different areas of campus including visits to the MSU farms and meat lab, and conduct further archival research and archaeological analysis in order to expand upon what we have learned.

Personally, I am going to focus on analyzing more of the animal bones that have been recovered during campus excavations. While we can assume that there will be many domesticated species, including cow, pig, sheep, and goat, it is also possible that there are undomesticated species, such as white-tailed deer, elk, or turkey, in the archaeological assemblages.

Cow in front of barns c. 1896. Image Source.

Cow in front of barns c. 1896. Image Source.

We know through archival research that both students and faculty hunted on campus (see Autumn’s previous blog on this topic) and that there was also a deer park on campus from 1898 into the early 1900s. This deer park contained three deer as well as two elk. The university even considered expanding to include a buffalo at one point (Beal 1915 pp. 263; MAC Record Nov 15, 1898)! In 2008, the campus archaeology program uncovered the foundations of the barn in the photo below during excavations near present day Mayo Hall.

Deer Park c. 1907. Image Source

Deer Park c. 1907. Image Source

Elk in the deer park c. 1907. Image Source

Elk in the deer park c. 1907. Image Source

As I continue with the faunal (animal) bone analysis, I will need to be aware of this, and compare the specimens against both domesticated and undomesticated species to verify the animal species identification. Another layer of analysis that I will conduct this year will be on identifying the specific meat cuts that were utilized. Understanding what cuts of meat come from which skeletal elements in an animal will allow us to compare and contrast what is present within the campus archaeological collection against the archival records which list specific meat portions!

Below are a few images of the animal remains that are being analyzed. Stay tuned for updates on the results of the animal bone analysis!

Sample of the faunal remans being analyzed.

Sample of the faunal remans being analyzed.

Autumn sorts bones in the cap lab.

Autumn sorts bones in the cap lab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Cow Barns May 31, 1896 Image: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-3D3/a-picture-of-a-cow-in-front-of-barns-1896/

Deer Park 1907 Image: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-96D/deer-park-1907/

Elk Deer Park Image: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-970/elk-in-the-deer-park-ca-1907/

MAC Record: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 1898 Vol 4 No. 10: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-4EC/the-mac-record-vol04-no10-november-15-1898/

Beal, William James. History of the Michigan agricultural college and biographical sketches of trustees and professors. 1915.

http://campusarch.msu.edu/Exhibits/FacultyRowExhibit/FacultyRowExhibit.html

 

The Tell-Tale Tart: Chronicling Campus History with Cake

Birthdays—at my age, they are just another day in our gradual and inevitable march through time, but my one pleasure in marking my incremental increase in years is eating cake. Cake is my favorite food, and I’ve mentioned it in other blogs before, but since I had a blog due on my birthday this year, I decided to exploit the situation for my own advantage and write about this exquisite dessert.

Cake is an iconic, beautiful marker of momentous occasions and our biggest celebrations: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and graduations. Birthday cakes have a long history in Europe, where they began as fruitcakes. The modern layered birthday cake became popular in early America where there were fewer bakeries and home bakers used layers to make taller cakes more quickly (Byrn 2016:266). Although bakeries are more plentiful now and bake many birthday cakes, they carry on the tradition of being tall, layered spectacles. Check out the awesome options offered on campus by MSU Bakers!

Bakers along side MSU centennial cake. Image source: MSU Archives

Bakers along side MSU centennial cake. Image source: MSU Archives

Anniversary celebrations also frequently include cake. For its centennial anniversary in 1955, MSU had a large and ornate layered cake made. For MSU’s sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary in 2005, the Dairy Store released an ice cream flavor that remains a favorite today: Sesquicentennial Swirl. It is vanilla ice cream with white cake and green frosting swirls. Cake evokes such feelings of communal celebration that it was incorporated into this celebratory flavor.

Last year I wrote about an 1884 banquet held for the MSU class of 1886. They served ten (10!) different types of cake at this occasion, including chocolate (my personal favorite). My perusals of earlier cookbooks found they rarely included chocolate cake, and it only became popular in the 1880s after companies like Hershey arose and railroads facilitated travel and the spread of ingredients and ideas. The first chocolate cake recipe wasn’t published in the US until 1886 (Burn 2016:68), so these MSU students were ahead of the curve!

Although cake can act as a public symbol of jubilation, it can also play an important role in everyday life. As much as I enjoy birthday and wedding cake, so do I enjoy grabbing a coffee and cupcake with a friend, or enjoying a slice at home by myself when relaxing after a long week. It is these little moments that do not get captured in photos posted in the newspaper, but instead these are moments captured in the memories of students as part of their experiences here at MSU.

The earliest mention I can find of cake on campus is from the diary of Edward Granger in 1858. On Christmas Eve he wrote, “12 o’clock (midnight) Mr. Charley and Bush have just returned from an expedition to the lower regions. The booty consists in about a peck of fried cakes, to a portion of which we have been giving ample justice” (UA10.3.56, Folder 1). Whether these fried cakes were more like donuts or johnny cakes we cannot be sure, but it’s obvious that these scandalously-procured items were a sinful treat for these mischievous college students. Granger also revealed an affinity for ginger treats, which inspired the ginger cake we served at our 1860s meal reconstruction last spring.

Ginger Cake and Charlotte Russe made for CAP's 1860s Meal Reconstruction

Ginger Cake and Charlotte Russe made for CAP’s 1860s Meal Reconstruction

One of the most entertaining accounts of cake come from Maurice Grenville Kains in a memoir from the Michigan State College of Agriculture Class of 1895. He recounts a take from Boarding Club A, when the notorious Joe Bush would sneak into the dining hall before everyone else so that he could position the pie or cake of the day near his seat so he could choose the biggest piece and also assure that he would get a second piece once the dessert was passed back around. His fellow students grew tired of his hijinks and delayed him from entering early one day, and “when he saw his place, the whole room burst into a roar of laughter; for beside his plate was a little pig trough!” (Kains 1945:135).

The Anna E. Bayha Home Management House was one of four buildings on campus built to give women students the task of living in and running their own homes (see Lisa’s post from a few years ago for more information). Each year, the Bayha House residents made photo albums documenting both everyday and special events that went on in the house. In the Fall 1949 Album is a delightful page titled “Char Baked a Cake” with comments such as “frosting is good!” inscribed on the page (UA.15.3, Vol. SB10, Scrapbook 10, 1947-1953). This is a lovely peek into the lives of women on campus, and it appears they enjoyed both baking and eating their culinary creations.

Page from the 1949 Bayha House Scrapbook. Image used with permission of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Page from the 1949 Bayha House Scrapbook. Image used with permission of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

The Bayha scrapbooks even provided us with a clue to an archaeological mystery on campus. CAP found pieces of distinctive plates with raised edges at the Gunson trash pit. The Gunson house later became the Bayha House, and a photo from the 1946 scrapbook shows the ladies serving cake on the same style plates!  We do, however, know that this type of plate was likely used for serving cake and other desserts, and may have been specially reserved to function as cake plates on campus.

A page from the 1949 Bayha Home Management Scrapbook showing the serving of birthday cake on glass plates. Image used with permission of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

A page from the 1949 Bayha Home Management Scrapbook showing the serving of birthday cake on glass plates. Image used with permission of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Fragment of a glass plate recovered from the Gunson/Admin Site.

Fragment of a glass plate recovered from the Gunson/Admin Site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cake has undoubtedly played a significant role in the history of MSU, acting as a symbol of celebration, community, friendship, leisure, and even defiance in both the public and private lives of student and faculty alike. With the popularity of Sesquicentennial Swirl, the vast array of cakes available in the cafeterias, and the gorgeous creations of the MSU Bakers for birthdays and graduations, I think cake will continue to be an iconic treat on campus for a very long time.

Well, that’s enough from me. Writing this blog has made me hungry, so I’m going to follow in the footsteps of my MSU predecessor’s and go eat some cake!

Sources:

Byrn, Anne. American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 of Our Best-Loved Cakes. New York: Rodale, 2016.

Kains, Maurice G., editor. Fifty Years out of College: A Composite Memoir of the Class of 1895 Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science. New York: Greenberg, 1945.

Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections:

UA10.3.56, Edward Granger Papers, Folder 1
Diary of E.G. Granger, 1859

UA.15.3, College of Human Ecology Records, Vol. SB10
Scrapbook 10, 1947-1953

Summer Field Crew Update: Wilson Road Realignment

For much of this summer the CAP field crew was busy surveying the area surrounding the East neighborhood (Akers, Fee, Hubbard, Conrad).  Beginning in March 2018 Wilson road will be altered, creating an additional exit onto Hagadorn, a traffic light on Shaw, as well as additional parking.

Wilson road extension planning. Image source

Wilson road extension planning. Image source.

The areas highlighted in green will all be changed/impacted by the construction. CAP had not previously excavated in this area so we were excited to see what was there.

Closeup from Michigan State University Land Acquisition map c. 1966. Source: MSU

Closeup from Michigan State University Land Acquisition map c. 1966. Source: MSU Library

Historically this area was part of the Biebesheimer farm.  The Biebesheimer family lived in the Ingham county area since the late 1860s (Adams 1923:379). A majority of the farm was sold to Michigan Agricultural College in 1925. However, the Biebesheimer and Roney (Mary Biebesheimer’s married name was Roney) families retained a portion of the original farm until the 1950’s. During the years the family owned/worked this farm land they uncovered several important prehistoric and contact era archaeological artifacts. The artifacts have been donated to the MSU museum and are housed in the Paul S. Roney collection.

The construction of the river trail neighborhood (McDonel, Owen, Shaw, Van Hoosen) and east neighborhood began in the mid 1960s (although the grouping of these buildings into neighborhoods is a much more recent university initiative).  So although these buildings, roads, and parking lots of a much more recent timeframe than the areas of campus we are typically called upon to investigate, it is important to remember that we are also charged with preserving and documenting the entire history of the area. So we set out to determine if anything prior to the campus development remained undisturbed. We were looking for signs of both the farm and prehistoric sites.

So we conducted a survey and excavated shovel test pits along the entire green highlighted area in the above map. A shovel test pit is a hole, typically dug by a shovel, that is roughly 2 times the width of the shovel head with a goal of a 1 meter depth.

CAP field crew excavates shovel test pits in IM East field.

CAP field crew excavates shovel test pits in IM East field.

Jeff and Autumn Painter document a shovel test pit in the IM East field along Wilson road.

Jeff and Autumn Painter document a shovel test pit in the IM East field along Wilson road.

Jeff and Autumn Painter excavate a test pit in front of Conrad Hall.

Jeff and Autumn Painter excavate a test pit in front of Conrad Hall.

Becca Albert and Jasmine Smith excavate a test pit in the Vet Med field.

Becca Albert and Jasmine Smith excavate a test pit in the Vet Med field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The field crew excavate test pits in the IM East field.

The field crew excavate test pits in the IM East field.

Autumn and Jeff Painter excavate a test pit between lot 32 and the tennis courts.

Autumn and Jeff Painter excavate a test pit between lot 32 and the tennis courts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The field crew dug 312 shovel test pits for the Wilson road realignment.  Unfortunately much of the area was comprised of highly compact soil, resulting in some difficult conditions for the field crew.  Additionally, only 90 of the test pits had any cultural material (artifacts).  Most of which were recent objects near the top third of the test pit.  The most surprising elements were probably the animals the crew encountered.

A pesky woodchuck infiltrates the field site.

A pesky woodchuck infiltrates the field site.

Autumn Painter got to meet a horse being treated by the MSU Large Animal Clinic.

Autumn Painter got to meet a horse being treated by the MSU Large Animal Clinic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What these weeks of hard work tell us is that the area is highly disturbed.  Any intact deposits are likely much deeper than we could get with the test pits.  It’s also important to remember that the absence of artifacts also tells the specific story of that area.  Once construction begins in March 2018 we will monitor the parking lot and road demolition, and likely excavate additional test pits once the ground surfaces have been removed.

 

Sources:

Adams, Franc L. Pioneer History of Ingham County Volume 1 Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Company: Lansing Michigan. 1923

 

 

 

Meet the 2017 CAP Fellows and Undergraduate Interns

The 2017-2018 school year has just begun here at MSU.  Several large changes are in store at CAP this year, including the pending retirement of CAP director Lynne Goldstein and the addition of associate professor Stacey Camp. We’re excited to continue working on several ongoing projects and begin new and exciting research projects. So please meet the 2017-2018 CAP graduate fellows and undergraduate interns!

CAP Graduate Fellows

Lisa Bright

Lisa Bright

Lisa Bright: Lisa is a 4th year Anthropology Ph.D. student.  This year Lisa will continue as Campus Archaeologist for her third, and final year.  Her dissertation research focuses on focuses on the paleopathology and nutritional status of a historic paupers cemetery in San Jose, California. This year Lisa will be working with other fellows on their projects, supervising three undergraduate internships, and working to complete reports and process artifacts from this summer.

 

Susan Kooiman

Susan Kooiman

Susan Kooiman:  Susan is a 5th year Anthropology Ph.D. student, returning for her third year as a CAP fellow. Her dissertation research focuses on pottery use, cooking practices, and diet of precontact Indigenous groups in the Upper Great Lakes of North America. This year, she and Autumn Beyer will be continuing their project documenting foodways on campus during the Early Period (1855-1870) of MSU’s history. This includes expanding their research and disseminating the results of the project through publication, conference presentations, and other outreach opportunities.

Autumn Painter

Autumn Painter

Autumn (Beyer) Painter: Autumn is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology. Her research focuses on prehistoric foodways through the analysis of animal bones in the Midwestern United States. This is her second year as a CAP fellow, and she and Susan Kooiman will be continue to work together on their project researching food on MSU’s historic campus.

 

Jeff Painter

Jeff Painter

Jeff Painter: Jeff Painter is a fourth year Ph.D. student at Michigan State University who is returning for his second year as a Campus Archaeology Fellow. He is a prehistoric archaeologist focused on foodways, ceramics, and migration in the late prehistoric Midwest. For CAP, he continues his focus on foodways and ceramics, investigating the diversity of dining patterns through time on MSU’s historic campus.

 

Mari Isa

Mari Isa

Mari Isa: Mari is a fourth year Ph.D. student in Anthropology. For her dissertation research, she studies the biological and biomechanical factors that contribute to bone fractures. Her other research interests include the potential social and biological impacts of malaria in Late Roman/Early Medieval Tuscany. Mari is returning for her second year as a CAP fellow. This year she is excited to be working on various projects including creating new digital media for msu.seum to highlight recent projects by CAP fellows and interns on topics such as sustainability, foodways, and gender.

Jack Biggs

Jack Biggs

Jack Biggs: Jack is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology with a focus in bioarchaeology of the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica.  Specifically, he is interested in human growth and development and how infants, children, and adolescents interacted within society and how social constructions of age affected their experience of the physical and social world around them.  He conducted some summer field work for CAP in 2016 putting in test units at various locations across campus, including Station Terrace and Beal’s Laboratory.  This is his first year as a full CAP fellow and is very excited to be a part of the team.

Undergraduate Interns

Kaleigh Perry

Kaleigh Perry

Kaleigh Perry: My name is Kaleigh Perry, and I am a senior at MSU this year. This past summer, I participated in the CAP Field School and now I have been blessed with the opportunity to be an intern for CAP for the school year. Whereas my interests mostly lie in Forensics, specifically taphonomy – the science of understanding what happens to an organism as it decomposes – the Field School has peaked my interest in Archaeology. Now that I have some field experience, I am excited to get more experience working in a lab and doing research.

Cooper Duda

Cooper Duda

Cooper Duda: My name is Cooper Duda andI’m starting my junior year here at MSU.  I have a twin brother, Devin, who just transferred here for Criminal Justice.  I participated in the CAP Field School this summer, which helped me become more interested in archaeology.  Although I do enjoy archaeology and Cultural Resource Management, I plan on going into Forensic Anthropology for graduate school.

Desiree Quinn

Desiree Quinn

Desiree Quinn: Hi, my name is Desiree Quinn and I’m a junior Anthropology major. I’m interested in studying bioarchaeology and environmental anthropology/archaeology. After attending the CAP field school this summer, I became certain that archaeology is the field for me and I am excited to learn more about the research side of archaeology this year!

 

Big Changes Coming in MSU Campus Archaeology’s Future

The 2017-18 academic year will be a momentous one for MSU Campus Archaeology. We are now an established entity in the University with our own budget and clear goals, but as of May 2018, I (Lynne Goldstein) will be retiring from MSU, and the MSU Campus Archaeology Program will have a new Director and, hopefully, even more exciting and new directions.

Thanks to the assistance of Dean Rachel Croson of the College of Social Science, MSU has hired Dr. Stacey Camp as an Associate Professor of Anthropology who will become Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program in May 2018. We have the good fortune to be able to spend this year making sure that we have everything in good shape, and preparing Stacey for the details of running this unique program.

MSU has been extraordinarily generous and supportive of the Campus Archaeology Program, and I cannot thank the Administration enough for their vision in championing the program and providing both undergraduate and graduate students unique and important training and career opportunities.

The rest of this post is written by Stacey Camp, introducing herself to MSU Campus Archaeology Program supporters.

Lynne Goldstein

Dr. Stacey Camp

Dr. Stacey Camp, Associate Professor of Anthropology and future director of CAP

I am honored and excited to be joining Michigan State University as a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology and as the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. I appreciate the opportunity to shadow Dr. Goldstein to ensure continuity in the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. I come from the University of Idaho where I spent 9 years as a faculty member and close to 4 years as the director of one of three state repositories in Idaho.

I have admired the MSU Campus Archaeology Program’s work from afar for many years, attending sessions on the project at conferences, reading its blog, and following its Twitter account. I was attracted to the program because of my own research projects, which have foregrounded a publicly engaged approach to archaeology.

My research takes a comparative approach to understanding the lives of migrants inhabiting the late 19th and early 20th century Western United States. My first large-scale public archaeology project examined the lives and archaeology of Mexican migrant laborers and their families, which I blogged about on a now defunct website. My latest project looks at the archaeology of Japanese American prisoners incarcerated in a World War II internment camp, and has likewise been documented on the web.

One of things I have appreciated about the MSU Campus Archaeology Program is its innovative and creative approach to placing the history of higher education in Michigan into the public’s hands. Their recent historic “MSU dinner” and their ongoing partnership with the MSU Paranormal Society to offer historic haunted tours are just a few examples of this type of engagement. I look forward to collaborating with students, colleagues, and community partners on the MSU Campus Archaeology Program to continue to develop new strategies to push the boundaries of public archaeology at MSU.

Stacey Camp

MSU Campus Archaeology, The Future, and Day of Archaeology

By Lynne Goldstein

I am also posting this on the Day of Archaeology website.

I was not going to personally post today for Day of Archaeology (#dayofarch) since our field season ended a few weeks ago, and I am getting ready for surgery (hip replacement). All of our student workers are off doing other things, so our lab is pretty quiet right now. Field work is also on hold since construction projects are in their final phases, in an attempt to be completed before school begins. However, when I realized that this was the last Day of Archaeology, I felt compelled to write something since I am also coming to the end of a project.

I created and direct the Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program (MSU CAP), and as of May 2018, I will be retiring from the University (although not from archaeology). The job of directing and administering MSU CAP will go to Dr. Stacey Camp, who has just arrived in East Lansing so that we can overlap for a year. MSU CAP is in very capable hands, and I am confident that the program will not only survive, but thrive. We will do a blog post welcoming and more completely introducing Stacey later in August.

Historic archaeology in general, and campus archaeology in particular, were never my primary research interests. But career paths are rarely straight, and I have found that one does best taking advantage of opportunities along the way. Given this, I have conducted excavations of several large and small historic cemeteries across the U.S., and I created this campus program, which is primarily (although not exclusively) focused on historic sites.

I thought that a campus-focused program would be good for a number of reasons (beyond being able to sleep in my own bed each night), but found that there were even more reasons than I had anticipated. Here are a few of them:

  1. Doing archaeology on campus raises awareness of archaeology and the fact that sites are everywhere, and that campus histories do not tell the complete story. We see ourselves as educating a large community (students, faculty staff, alumni, the general public) on the importance and value of archaeology.
  2. Students and staff are more likely to get involved and excited when the sites being excavated are something they can directly relate to, and developing an appreciation for and learning more about the history of the campus is good for everyone.
  3. Campus Archaeology has changed attitudes and approaches of the upper administration of the campus, as well as the workers. Physical plant employees have told us that working with CAP has definitely made their jobs more interesting.
  4. Running a field school on campus (which we generally do every other year) allows students who cannot go on an expedition elsewhere the chance to learn archaeological methods and techniques. Some students cannot afford to go elsewhere, others have family commitments that constrain their opportunities.
  5. In addition to training students in archaeological methods like every archaeological field school does, we also train students in archival research and to work with construction crews, staff, administration, etc. This additional training that our undergrad interns and graduate student fellows receive helps them get into graduate school and get better jobs. They have a kind of training that few others receive; they all also get extensive training in public outreach and engagement.
  6. Social media has allowed a very small program to have a very large reach – we regularly engage with archaeologists and the public around the world. Students are trained in conducting such engagement, including writing regular blog posts.
  7. Studying the history of higher education – particularly the land grant schools – through archaeology is fascinating, reflects larger changes in the overall culture, and is an area that has not been widely examined archaeologically. Each graduate fellow focuses their individual project on a different aspect of this history.

I feel privileged to have been able to create and direct this program, and I have to thank Michigan State University for its generous and enthusiastic support. Will I miss doing this? Of course, but it is also time to move on the next phase. I love Day of Archaeology because – ona single day – we can see what kinds of things archaeologists are doing all over the world. We are learning a lot about our past, with some clear possibilities for future directions if we listen.

2017 Field School Recap: Station Terrace

Stone wall from Station Terrace basement

Stone foundation wall uncovered by 2016 survey.

The 2017 Campus Archaeology field school is done! This year the field school ran from May 30th – June 30th.  The goal for this field school was to excavate at the site of Station Terrace. CAP surveyed this area in 2016 ahead of the Abbot Entrance rejuvenation project. One of our test pits uncovered a stone foundation, so we opened up a 2 meter x 2 meter test unit to investigate further.  The stone wall started almost 1 meter below the ground surface, and terminated just over 2 meters below ground surface.  The east side of the wall was filled with large boulders, but had a cement floor (including a pair of men’s shoes!), leading us to believe that this was likely the interior of the building.  The west side of the wall contained a large area of burnt material and cultural debris – including the complete Sanford library paste jar.  There were also two large ceramic pipes running along the bottom of the foundation wall.

Sanford's Library Paste Jar discovered at Station Terrace - Image Source: Lisa Bright

Sanford’s Library Paste Jar discovered at Station Terrace – Image Source: Lisa Bright

Even with extensive research there was still many things we still didn’t know about Station Terrace.  We don’t know the exact construction date (it’s sometime between 1890-1895), no blue prints have been found, and although we know generally what the building was used for (extension faculty housing, bachelor faculty housing, East Lansing post office, trolley waiting room, Flower Pot tea room) the details remained elusive.  So, it was decided that the 2017 field school would excavate more of Station Terrace. Thankfully IPF was incredibly helpful this year, and had a backhoe remove the first 2 1/2 – 3 feet of overburden and dig OSHA compliant terracing around the site.

We had a small group of students this year but much was accomplished.  A total of six units were excavated.

Unit A

Unit A was placed with the unit’s west wall along the building foundation.  This unit also slightly overlapped with the 2016 test pit in the northwest corner.  In addition to more of the foundation wall (including a corner), a concentration of large boulder debris, Kaleigh and Josh uncovered the ceramic pipes along the foundation base, and hit more of the burn feature.

Josh Eads and Kaleigh Perry work to excavate under the large ceramic pipes located along the foundation wall in Unit A.

Josh Eads and Kaleigh Perry work to excavate under the large ceramic pipes located along the foundation wall in Unit A.

Unit A West Wall - showing foundation wall, builders trench, and ceramic pipes.

Unit A West Wall – showing foundation wall, builders trench, and ceramic pipes.

Unit A North Wall - Amazing stratigraphy showing prior unit, burn feature, and fill.

Unit A North Wall – Amazing stratigraphy showing prior unit, burn feature, and fill.

Unit B

Unit B was placed at the southern end of the field school excavation area.  Though this unit did not hit any structural portion of the building, they had a dense layer of nails directly below a layer of clay, a brick concentration along the northern wall, and a large cement pad along the south wall.  The cement pad will require further research, but it’s possible that it is associated with the trolley.

Unit B south wall - large cement pad.

Unit B south wall – large cement pad.

Unit B west wall - brick concentration and gravel layer.

Unit B west wall – brick concentration and gravel layer.

Unit C

Unit C was placed near the eastern limit of the field school excavation.  This unit was closed early as it became apparent that a modern trench transected most of the unit, and there were very limited amounts of artifacts.

Unit C floor - modern trench disturbance visible.

Unit C floor – modern trench disturbance visible.

Unit D

Unit D was opened after Unit C was closed.  This required the manual removal of the extra over burden as the excavations in Unit’s A and B allowed us to target the interior of the building, as well as follow the corner of the wall in Unit A.  Unit D, excavated mainly by Jerica and Alex, had the foundation wall bisect the unit. The south side of the wall is likely a builders trench full of mostly sterile sand. The north side of the wall had many large boulders (likely wall fall from the building being moved). This side also had the cement floor and more intact artifacts closer to this floor; a complete Curtice Brothers ketchup bottle and part of a rubber boot were recovered. There was also a capped drain through the cement floor.

Unit D during excavation. Stone foundation wall and boulder fill.

Unit D during excavation. Stone foundation wall and boulder fill.

Unit D after excavation. The cement floor, foundation wall, and builders trench pictured.

Unit D after excavation. The cement floor, foundation wall, and builders trench pictured.

Unit E

Unit E was opened between Unit D and B to determine if any further structural components of the building were present. Unit E did hit the brick concentration found in Unit B, but artifacts were sparse so the unit was closed to concentrate on our units.

Unit E - brick concentration in upper left corner.

Unit E – brick concentration in upper left corner.

Unit F

Unit F, a 1×2 meter unit, was opened directly north of Unit D in order to investigate more of the building interior.  Unfortunately due to spacial restrictions from the road and newly planted trees limited areas additional units could be placed.  Similar to the northern portion of Unit D, Unit F encountered several large boulders and the cement floor. This unit also had several large artifacts, including a metal bucket and a coal shovel.

Unit F - large stones, in situ shovel.

Unit F – large stones, in situ shovel.

High school volunteer Spencer W holds the shovel from Unit F.

High school volunteer Spencer W holds the shovel from Unit F.

The artifact cleaning, sorting, cataloging and report writing had just begun. Stay turned for more posts this fall about things learned from the field school.

 

 

Wrapping up the official field school

Jerica working in Unit D.

Jerica working in Unit D.

As this field school comes to an end, I sit to reflect on what an awesome journey this has been. When the field school first started, I was a little nervous about the type of work that we were going to be doing because I had never used a shovel or trowel before. I had never dug anything in my life. So being a part of this experience was going to help me learn new skills and techniques.

Starting off in Unit C, helped me get the practice that I needed to understand the different steps that are part of an archaeological excavation. Learning everything from measuring and digging a 2×2 meter unit, to marking the coordinates to screening the soil, to doing a Munsell Test.

One of my favorite things to do was doing the Munsell test because it was challenging in the sense that I had to pay close attention to the texture and different colors in the soil. Paying close attention to the soil to tell whether it had a more dull or bright color to it and figuring out a way of identifying the right shade so it could match the color seen by the professor. Making observations and being descriptive is very important because it tells us more about its history.

I also found it interesting to see the different colors and textures of the soil as we went deeper in the unit. I remember back in Week 2 when Alex and I were working on level two and three and there was a spot on the floor that looked like mac-n-cheese. So whenever I tell my friends and coworkers about the dig, I mention this to them because it is easier for them to understand what I am saying when I describe the experience and what I see when I use words that they can understand.

Even though this field school required a lot of physical work, I would definitely do it again. It is definitely worth it and it is very enriching. I am an Anthropology major student, not an Archaeology student, but this helped me understand part of our school’s history in a more material and physical context.

 

Wrapping Up (For Most of Us, Anyway)

Lets just have a little wrap up of what the site looked like when we left today, what I did this week, and what’s happening next.


This week I continued to excavate in Unit D with help from Jerica on Tuesday and Wednesday and Becca today (Thursday). At the end of today we were down a bit shy of 70cm on our fourth level. Level four has been particularly difficult because it has a lot of larger rocks in it. In fact, when Jerica and I were digging 20cm guide holes at the start of this level we ended up starting skimming without having a Northwest corner guide hole at all because I got down to about a 60cm depth and hit rocks covering the entire bottom of the hole. Expanding the hole just led to finding more rocks so Dr Goldstein and Lisa decided we could just go on without it.

While Becca was helping me skim down this afternoon, holes started opening between the rocks (of which there were 15-20 depending on where you draw the line between a small rock and a big stone). Becca had to leave early today so after she left I mapped out where the rocks currently exposed were and then Lisa removed the majority of the rocks that were in the level so we’d be able to keep going down past them to finish out the level.  There were two or three that were in so deep that they were in the next level some so we couldn’t remove them yet but there is actually enough space to fit a shovel in across the majority of the level which is a change from before it.

Unit D large stones in level 4.

Unit D large stones in level 4.

Unit D after the larger stones were removed (after mapping).

Unit D after the larger stones were removed (after mapping).


At the end of the day…

  • Unit F has only produced a few small artifacts per level despite Josh B. and Spencer’s best efforts.
  • Unit E stayed closed all day with no one to work in it (though Susan Kooiman and Becca were working in there yesterday).
  • Unit B is so deep that Dr Goldstein had to bring in a step ladder for Cooper and Desiree to use to get in and out. They feel very isolated in their unit, you can’t see them most of the time and the walls muffle all of the sound from outside of it so they can’t easily participate in any of the conversations going on across the other units.
  • Unit A has passed their own large rock layer and found two pipes. One is a broken off terracotta one in the wall that’s strange flat bottom that implies that it is an old sewer pipe (a realization that came about after Kayleigh had stuck her hand in it to clean it out). The other pipe, a bit lower than the first, was also terracotta but wasn’t broken off. It ran all the way across the western wall of their unit.

What happens next

 

The field crew and a few members of our group including Cooper, Becca, and both Joshs will be returning to the field on Monday to spend a week or so finishing up everything we didn’t get done during the month we’ve been working.

CAP Field School: The Final Countdown

Unit B brick feature.

Unit B brick feature.

The field school is coming to a close soon and although we’ve made a lot of progress in Unit B, we still have a lot to accomplish during this last week. We are currently over a meter deep, which has made getting in and out of the unit difficult, and we are still finding things. We haven’t found many artifacts, but we did come across a brick feature and the bottom of the cement wall mentioned in my previous blog post.

The brick feature was found in our northwest corner while we were digging our level 7 guide holes. It consisted of many bricks that seemed to be clustered together in no particular pattern and were different colors. Many were clustered in the northwest corner but a few other bricks were also found near the north wall. After mapping the brick feature, we realized that some bricks were stuck in the wall. Besides those stuck in the wall, we pulled the bricks out and checked to see if any of them had makers marks. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any makers marks on any of the bricks, however we did notice that most of the bricks were pretty light and seemed cheaply made. This caused us to speculate that these bricks could have been made locally. However, without any makers marks, there isn’t much that we can do with these bricks in the lab. However, they seem to make excellent tarp weights! The fact that this brick feature was found so deep is interesting and I’m curious to find out if we will find more as we dig deeper.

Cement feature along south wall of Unit B.

Cement feature along south wall of Unit B.

Finally finding the bottom of the cement wall in out unit has raised some more questions about its place at Station Terrace. It seems to be too thick too be a walkway or sidewalk and where it stops doesn’t seem even. Now, this could be due to erosion. However, from what we can see, a mold wasn’t used which further supports the theory that this was not a walkway. Also, the gravel layer we found along our west wall seems to be related to cement but it’s a little unusual. The gravel layer is only visible along the west wall despite the fact that the cement wall extends across the entire unit and is very distinct. This has lead us to believe that the cement wall could have been part of the trolley turn around and gravel was placed leading up to the wall. It’s still very unusual that it’s only along the west wall.

Gravel layer along west wall of Unit B.

Gravel layer along west wall of Unit B.

Throughout my time as a CAP field school student I have learned a lot about what archaeology is like in practice. I’ve learned the basic procedures and how to think about context. Most importantly, I think I’ve learned to think about the bigger picture and ask questions when I find something. (How does this connect to other units? What does this mean in the context of Station Terrace? What does this mean in the context of MSU?) Although I knew that those questions were important, it was hard for me to think about them when finding artifacts. Things that we may not think are significant can be significant in certain contexts. Our nail layer just seemed like a bunch of nails, but it became something noteworthy because of the context. This experience has helped me to think more like an archaeologist and I can’t wait to see what we can discover in this last week.