Tag: archaeology

Another day, another mystery in the CAP lab…

Another day, another mystery in the CAP lab…

While cataloguing artifacts from Service Road, we stumbled across an intriguing piece of a milk glass jar featuring an applied color label with bright red and blue hues. I say it was intriguing because many of the artifacts we have left from Service Road are 

A Look Back at CAP’s 2022 Field School

A Look Back at CAP’s 2022 Field School

This past summer, the Campus Archaeology program had the opportunity to offer a field school to archaeology students from MSU and across the state—our first field school since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Directly taking part in ongoing CAP research into life in the 

The Golden Eagle Promotion: How Sprite Bottles Became a National Park Service Advertisement

The Golden Eagle Promotion: How Sprite Bottles Became a National Park Service Advertisement

While looking through the artifacts recovered from the 2020 Service Road project, the CAP crew found an interesting green glass bottle fragment. After further investigation, I found that this fragment was the remaining portion of a Sprite bottle made by the Chattanooga Glass Company (as indicated by the “C” in a circle logo) (Lockhart et al. n.d. (b)). But what could make this find even cooler? The name of a national park embossed into the base!

Now I know you’re wondering, why is Sequoia National Park on the bottom of a 1960s-1970s Sprite bottle? Great question! 

It turns out that Coca-Cola and the National Park Service have had a long history of collaborating with one another. It all began in the 1930s when a Coca-Cola ad consisted of bears drinking Coca-Cola in Yellowstone National Park (Hanna n.d.). Additional advertisements soon appeared, showing national park landscapes and cowboys drinking Coca-Cola.

collection of mid-20th century coca-cola adverts showing people drinking Coca-Coal in national parks.
(images provided by The Coca-Cola Company, as cited in Hanna n.d.)

How does our Sequoia National Park Sprite bottle fit into the picture?

Well, this bottle was part of a promotion of the national parks and national monuments titled Golden Eagle (Hassett 2016; Lockhart 2011). In 1966, the U.S. government was promoting a “golden permit”, priced at seven dollars, that would allow families to visit any of the national parks or monuments as often as they wanted from April 1966 to March 1967 (Hassett 2016). This led to a partnership between the National Park Service and The Coca-Cola Company to promote this permit. Urging people to “See America,” the promotion included a bottle cap sweepstakes with a $33,000 grand prize (McCarthy 2019). Additionally, thirty-six different national parks and national monuments were embossed onto the base of seven to ten-ounce Sprite bottles (Hassett 2016; Lockhart 2011; McCarthy 2019). The national park/monument bottles were produced by many bottle manufacturers and distributed to the public, providing an advertisement for the National Park Service (Hassett 2016). The Golden Eagle Passport has since been discontinued and has been replaced by the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass – Annual Pass (National Park Service 2019). 

Image showing the 36 national parks authorized to appear on Sprite bottles:

Acadia; Big Bend; Everglades; Gettysburg National Military Park; Grand Canyon; Mammoth Cave; Olympic; Rocky Mountain; Saratoga National Historical Park; Sequoia; Shenandoah; Zion; Hot Springs; White Sands; Isle Royale; Great Smoky Mountains; Ft. Sumter National Monument; Shiloh National Military Park; Lincoln Memorial; Joshua Tree National Monument; Yellowstone; Glacier; Crater lake; Wind Cave; Mt. McKinley; Cumberland Gap National Historical Park; Hawaii; Petrified Forest National Monument; George Washington Carver National Monument; Death Valley National Monument; Mound City National Monument; Scotts Bluff National Monument; Platt; Grand Teton; Statue of Liberty National Monument; Chickamauga National Military Park
Images provided by “The Refresher” magazine, as cited in McCarthy 2019

While the first of these Sprite bottles were introduced in 1966, the latest date that these bottles were created would have probably been 1978 (Lockhart 2011). The primary labeling style of these bottles was white applied color labels with dimples along the sides (Lockhart 2011). While these bottles are not produced today, bottle enthusiasts and beachcombing groups still will collect these unique pieces (Hassett 2016, McCarthy 2019). 

 Sprite bottle with white applied color label
Sprite bottle with white ACL; image from Pickling Pittsburgh 2021
 Sprite bottle with white ACL
Sprite bottle with white ACL; image from Pickling Pittsburgh 2021

The Golden Eagle promotion would not be the last time we see collaborations between the two groups. Since the 1960s, Coca-Cola has provided funding for multiple aspects relating to national parks and monuments. This includes funding for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, funding for visitor education centers at Yellowstone and Gettysburg National Military Parks, and funding for recycling and trail programs at national parks (Hanna n.d., McCarthy 2019). 

Since CAP’s identification of the Sequoia National Park Sprite bottle, two more Golden Eagle-era Sprite bottles have been cataloged, also from the 2020 Service Road excavations. One has Olympic National Park on its base, while the other has Isle Royale National Park. Both were produced by Anchor Hocking (Lockhart et al. n.d. (a)). Hopefully, future excavations on campus will produce even more of these unique Sprite bottles!

Olympic National Park Sprite bottle
Olympic National Park Sprite bottle
Base of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle
Base of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle
Side of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle with white ACL
Side of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle with white ACL
 Other side of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle with white ACL
Other side of Isle Royale National Park Sprite bottle with white ACL


  • Hanna, Amber
    No date. “Celebrating Nearly 10 Decades of Park Partnership with Coca-Cola.” Electronic document, nationalparks.org. Available online, https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/celebrating-nearly-10-decades-park-partnership-coca-cola. Accessed February, 2022. 
  • Hassett, Jana
    2016 Sprite and the National Parks. Electronic document, https://frontierhomestead.org/homestead-telegraph/category/glass+bottles, accessed February, 2022. 
  • Lockhart, Bill
    2011. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Alamogordo (1955-present). In Soda Bottles and Bottling at Alamogordo, New Mexico. Privately published. 
  • Lockhart, Bill, Bill Lindsey, Carol Serr, Pete Schulz, and Beau Schriever
    No date (a). “Manufacturer’s Marks and Other Logos on Glass Containers.” Article, sha.org. Available online, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/ALogoTable.pdf. Accessed February, 2022.
  • Lockhart, Bill, Bill Lindsey, Carol Serr, Pete Schulz, and Beau Schriever
    No date (b). “Manufacturer’s Marks and Other Logos on Glass Containers.” Article, sha.org. Available online, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/CLogoTable.pdf. Accessed February, 2022. 
  • McCarthy, Mary T
    2019 Sprite Delight. Electronic document, https://www.beachcombingmagazine.com/blogs/news/sprite-delight, accessed February, 2022.  
  • National Park Service
    2019 2019 National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program. Electronic document, https://www.nps.gov/amis/planyourvisit/passes.htm, accessed February, 2022.
  • Picking Pittsburgh
    2021 Vintage Sprite 7oz Green Glass Bottle Embosed Dots Coca Cola Company National Parks Monuments. Electronic document, https://www.pickingpittsburgh.com/listing/508567537/vintage-sprite-7oz-green-glass-bottle, accessed February, 2022.
Getting ‘Ghosted’: Calamitous Clay Creations from the Outré Outhouse

Getting ‘Ghosted’: Calamitous Clay Creations from the Outré Outhouse

During archaeological excavations, some of the most ubiquitous artifacts unearthed are ceramic sherds that were once part of bowls, plates, vases, or other decorative pieces. It is relatively easy to appreciate the skills and techniques that go into the creation of meticulously crafted ceramic vessels. 

CAP Update: Spring 2022

CAP Update: Spring 2022

Here at Michigan State we welcome winter as we return to classes and our labs. I would like share what we have been up to over break and provide a preview of what CAP will be working on this semester. What We Did Over The 

All the Names She Could not Bear

All the Names She Could not Bear

A Salty Tale

I wanted this blog to be about patents, not Ruth Van Tellingen. Or should I call her Ruth Bendel? Or Ruth Elizabeth Thompson? I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we delve into Ruth’s life, let’s review the concept of patents as they pertain to archaeology.

As many know, a patent refers to a legally-recognized title on intellectual property that allows an individual or group to control the production and sale of specific designs. In the U.S. patents, as a legal concept, extend back to the late 1600s when some individual states would grant legal rights to an idea or invention. Federal interventions on designs and innovations were not introduced until The Patent Act of 1790. The registration number associated with a granted patent is often printed on items that become artifacts. These numbers provide a multi-tool for archaeological interpretations. With them, we can often identify a purpose or maker of an artifact and a period for the use and production of an item. Sometimes, patents allow us to discover unexpected insights into our social pasts. 

The CAP Patent that Gave Paws

About a year ago, I was sitting in the CAP lab researching a ceramic bear. The item was uncovered during our 2020 Service Road Construction Project (read more here). We had plans to use the artifact in a conference presentation covering Children’s lives on MSU’s campus (read more here).

Ceramic bear condiment dispenser. Use your mouse to rotate the object. Shaker holes are visible on the back of the head. Ruth Van Tellingen is visible in writing on the base.

When searching the patent for the bear I found that it is not merely a decorative item, but rather a clever and original design for two interlocking condiment dispensers (salt, pepper, oil, etc.) (read more here). Something else caught my attention– something other than the unconventional nickname, “Huggers”. It was the title associated with the patent, filed on May 6th, 1947… The name belonged to… a woman? 

Ruth Van Tellingen Bendel’s 1951 “Huggers” patent.

Ruth Van Tellingen Bendel. Let me be clear. I was not surprised a woman had invented a new design or kindled an original concept. My eyebrows were raised because the idea was documented and credited to her. Archeologists, like anyone looking into the past, generally struggle to find and verify diversity in the past, especially when it comes to historically marginalized or oppressed groups. Without identifiers like patents, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to identify who created something. Objects themselves do not have social identities– humans assign them. And because restricted and privileged groups have historically held the pen that writes the Western narrative, many historical accounts overestimate the contributions of certain individuals to society. In the same stroke, the experiences of people outside of the most privileged circles have been silenced or ignored (1). 

Woman with a Peppered Past

So what can we know about the creator of this patent? Ruth Elizabeth Thompson was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, in 1910. Census records tell us she married Oscar Van Tellingen, a salesman from Iowa, and assumed the role of a “Housewife and commercial artist” by the age of 30 (see census data below).

1930 census form. Oscar H.M. and Ruth E. Van Tellingen shared their home with Clyde N. Hale, an electrical technician from Nebraska.
Ruth’s occupation on the 1930 census. We know that this line was filled out by her husband, Oscar, because of the star next to his name in the previous image. In addition to claiming a more traditional role of housewife, she was also identified as a commercial artist.

Her artistry, including several children’s books, received mixed reviews (2). While active in illustration, she also commissioned figurines created for the Chicago Royal China and Novelty Company (3), including the multiple Huggers in different animal forms. Her interlocking bear design was conceived in 1947, but not submitted for a patent until 1949. Our bear lacks the name “Bendel,” which Ruth added after her second marriage to Victor T. Bendel, in 1948. It is therefore likely one of the first bears off the production line.

Ruth’s shaker patent, granted in 1951, preceded the women’s liberation movement (4) in the United States by more than a decade. Women first patented a product in the U.S. in 1809, but as of 2020, the percentage of self-identified women contributing to annual patents remains less than 22% (5; 6). By the time she died in 1986, Ruth had acquired at least two more patents, several copyrights, and was listed as an author on multiple books. Between two CAP fellows, we found seven names associated with Ruth’s life. Even by today’s standards, her intellectual capital and enigmatic flair for unique titles would be considered remarkable.

Time to Shake It Up

Want to explore patents yourself? Here are two possible methods:

  1. To search patents through the U.S. government portal navigate to:


In the “Query” box type in the patent number. 

For example, Ruth’s patent no. 2,560,755.

The landing page should provide a patent number and issue date. To view the scanned file, click “Images” at the bottom. Have in mind that most patents are a few pages long, so you’ll want to download more than the landing page of the PDF. It is also worthwhile to note that some patents may have a number in front of them, which indicates the type of patent represented.

  • Google now offers a patent look-up that’s even easier:


Type in the name or number and anything affiliated with an individual should show. Between patents and copyrights, we found the following names associated with our Ruth to stamp her intellectual and artistic endeavors. Give ‘er a go and see what you find.

Ruth Elizabeth Thompson.

Ruth E. Van Tellingen.

Ruth Thompson Van Tellingen.

Ruth Van Tellingen Bendel.

Ruth V. Bendel.

Ruth Bendel.

Ruth Thompson Bendel.


  1. Trouillot, Michel-Rolph (1995) Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts. Link
  2. https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/12430/bulletincenterchv00007i00009_opt.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y
  3. https://books.google.com/books?id=2SYhAQAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA82&lpg=RA1-PA82&dq=winning+horse+Ruth+van+tellingen&source=bl&ots=Y5fGWVdqt6&sig=ACfU3U3Bvn5pQDB9f80e5VT5C3aEyl9OwQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjg27q31tT0AhVVkYkEHYz2DeAQ6AF6BAgcEAM#v=onepage&q=winning%20horse%20Ruth%20van%20tellingen&f=false
  4. https://www.britannica.com/event/womens-movement
  5. https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/news-updates/uspto-releases-updated-study-participation-women-us-innovation-economy-0
  6. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02298-9

Walking Through MSU’s Culinary Past

Walking Through MSU’s Culinary Past

When COVID hit our campus, CAP was forced to rethink how we perform our community outreach. We needed new, innovative ways to engage and educate the public without requiring them to meet in large groups. One of the ways we did this was to transition 

Looking to Have a Good Twine? Get Ready for Our New Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Archaeology Twine!

Looking to Have a Good Twine? Get Ready for Our New Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Archaeology Twine!

Here at Campus Archaeology, we love outreach – just this past week, we presented at both Michigan Archaeology Day and at our annual Apparitions and Archaeology Tour! (Thank you to those who stopped by!) We love outreach so much because we are passionate about archaeology 

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Dr. Camp looking out at an archaeological site on MSU's campus wearing a hard hat and yellow vest.
Dr. Camp, Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program, photographed by Nick Schrader, IPF Visual Communications Manager. ©Nick Schrader, All Rights Reserved


For those of you just joining our blog for the first time, I am Dr. Camp, the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program (CAP). I am entering my 5th year here at MSU, and my 13th teaching as a tenure track faculty member at a land grant university.

This past year and a half has been one filled with anxiety and challenges. We mourn all of the people lost to COVID and the substantial impact it has had on our lives.

While most of our campus was remote up until August 2021, CAP worked on construction projects during the pandemic to ensure the university remained in compliance with federal and state guidelines concerning below ground heritage.

We never stopped working.

In fact, this past year was one of the busiest for our program due to taking on a federal compliance project that involved campus, city, state, federal, and tribal agencies. We learned how to go through the Section 106 process with the aid of many on and off campus partners. This included assessing, mitigating, and monitoring the construction of a substantial bike pathway that transverses much of our beautiful campus. Our CAP fellows and staff spent the summer overseeing the project, laboring in the heat with masks on to keep each other safe.

The MSU Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) staff conducting shovel tests along the Red Cedar River as part of the Red Cedar Greenway bike path project, May 2021.

We also oversaw a substantial construction project at the beginning of the pandemic back in May 2020. The project lasted through August 2020. This project has resulted in several forthcoming publications and multiple public (online/remote) talks about our findings at conferences and at the MSU Science Festival in the spring of 2021. Artifacts from this construction site, which is located on Service Road, reveal campus life during the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s.

Children’s toys recovered by the MSU Campus Archaeology Program during the summer 2020 Service Road construction project.
A) Yellow plastic toy microscope; B) Celluloid squeaker doll likely made between 1940 and 1947 by the Irwin Corporation of New Hampshire; and C) Yellow plastic toy car likely manufactured by the Renwal Manufacturing Company dating from the 1940s to the mid-1950s.
Photographs taken by Autumn Painter, Campus Archaeologist from 2018 through the summer of 2020.

We oversaw a smaller, but equally important construction project involving the area known as Spartan Village, which is most recently used to house graduate students. Part of that property has been converted to build a new TechSmith building. After conducting substantial historical research on the property, we conducted a geophysical survey with the assistance of MSU alumni Dr. Duane Quates in the fall of 2020. We used Dr. Quates’ data to help inform test excavations on the site later during the 2020-2021 academic year. We monitored construction on the site this summer (2021), which revealed numerous artifacts and building foundations.

The MSU Campus Archaeology Program staff working at Spartan Village, the new location of TechSmith’s building. Summer 2021. Photographed by Nick Schrader, IPF Visual Communications Manager. ©Nick Schrader, All Rights Reserved

We also continue to be involved in tree plantings on campus to ensure dirt removed as part of their planting is screened for artifacts.

The MSU Campus Archaeology Program monitors tree plantings to ensure archaeological sites and artifacts are not disturbed.

We moved much of our traditionally in-person outreach to online formats, including a new digital tour of MSU’s historic Faculty Row and our annual Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Tour.

Though our mission will remains clear – to protect and mitigate below ground resources on MSU’s campus while training students in archaeological research and public history – this year has also given us time and space to reflect upon what we have accomplished and what we would like to do for our community in the coming years. As we discussed in our blog last summer, we are working towards sharing more about the diverse communities who have lived and work on campus.

We have committed towards working closely with communities we have yet to serve in our surrounding region, but much of this work is on pause until we feel it is safe to do so. And while we have fallen short of some of our ambitious goals for this past year due to the burnt out, stress, and exhaustion that comes with living and working through a pandemic, we intend to keep them at the forefront of our planning for the coming years. We wish to work with the many communities who have resided on and owned MSU’s land and plan to develop policies that ensure proper consultation during construction projects.

I want to conclude by thanking all of our CAP staff and fellows for working so hard and learning to quickly adapt to in-flux new protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to thank the many staff with whom we have worked this past year+ of a pandemic. I also want to thank the undergraduates who helped us this summer with cataloging amid still very stressful times. We appreciate the ongoing support for CAP.

Meet the 2021 – 2022 Campus Archaeology Program GRADUATE FELLOWS

Meet the 2021 – 2022 Campus Archaeology Program GRADUATE FELLOWS

Photo by ©Nick Schrader, All Rights Reserved In September Michigan State’s Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) archaeologists wrap up our summer field work here on campus and return to the routine of classes, personal research, and teaching that each semester brings. The start of a new