Tag: archaeology

Meet the 2018 CAP Fellows

Meet the 2018 CAP Fellows

The 2018-2019 school year has begun!  Dr. Stacey Camp has taken over as director of the program, following Dr. Lynne Goldstein’s retirement from MSU. We will be continuing to work on several ongoing projects, as well as begin several new ones. Please meet our 2018-2019 

Big Changes Coming in MSU Campus Archaeology’s Future

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 

CAP Interns: Where are they now Part II

CAP Interns: Where are they now Part II

Ryan Jelso

Ryan- holding a door knob he found during a CAP excavation
Ryan- holding a door knob he found during a CAP excavation

To be part of the Campus Archaeology team had been a goal of mine since my very first month on campus. I remember one of my professors taking out class on a walk to one of CAPs excavations and I found it really intriguing. As a busy college student, my time with Campus Archaeology would come four years later. I graduated in the summer of 2013 and was lucky enough to be part of the Summer Survey crew before I left campus. The time I spent with CAP helped me build a perspective on how important cultural heritage and public archaeology are to society.

As a double major, (Environmental Studies/Anthropology), my college years were spent trying to find a way to merge my two passions. After I graduated, this remained the case. I took some time off to organize my thoughts and aspirations, while also exploring career fields where both my interests would be involved. Currently, I will be starting a job as a Research Support Specialist with The Henry Ford. I will be working in the Benson Ford Research Center helping with the maintenance of their collections. My time with CAP definitely helped me obtain this position.

There are some similarities between my CAP experience and my new place of employment. As a museum, The Henry Ford’s collection captures the traditions and lifestyles surrounding American innovation. It explores the evolution of American industry. With CAP, we used the archaeological collection, as well as the archives, to gain a better understanding of the traditions and lifestyles that have taken place on MSU’s ever-evolving campus throughout the years. Also, I think another important CAP experience that has helped me get a job with a museum like The Henry Ford is CAP’s commitment to public outreach. With any major museum, public outreach is an extremely important skill/experience to have.

I am also part of a Graduate Certificate program in Forest Carbon Science at MSU. It looks at the relationship between forest management and climate change. I will hopefully be beginning a dual Master’s program in Fall 2015. I am interested in Natural Resource Management and Public Policy. Overall, my goals are to become a leader in the field of cultural and natural resource conservation. My time with CAP is fundamental to helping me achieve that goal. Lastly, learning about the history and working on the CRM projects through CAP allowed me to build a deeper connection to MSU.

Blogging Campus Archaeology: A Retrospective

Blogging Campus Archaeology: A Retrospective

This is the fourth post as part of the Blogging Archaeology Carnival hosted by Doug’s Archaeology. To learn more about this, please see our first post: Why do we blog?, our second post: The Good, Bad and Ugly, and our third post: Our Best Posts.  This month, the 

Beal Street Entrance Construction and Survey

Beal Street Entrance Construction and Survey

You may have noticed that the area around Michigan Avenue from Harrison Road to East Grand River  Road is completely covered with construction equipment, orange cones, and various people in neon yellow. In a half mile radius there are three different construction projects that are 

The Old Botany Greenhouses

The Old Botany Greenhouses

The Old Botany Greenhouse, North Side, Photo by CAPMSU

When I arrived to work last week, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we would be surveying the old Botany Greenhouses, particularly since I’ve walked by them for several years and, in passing, have always wondering about it’s “story.”  The old Botany Greenhouses are slated for demolition sometime around January 2013.  This complex consists of two greenhouses (one of which has already been torn down) and one headhouse and is located east of Old Botany and next to Lot 7 in the north academic district.

Why are the buildings being torn down?  According to Physical Plant, the structures are relatively aged (~81 – 100 years old) and, because of safety hazards, were deemed to be unsafe and, as a result, are no longer in use.

Why are we documenting and mapping it? Once the building is razed it will be a green space. If future archaeologists survey or excavate here we need to have a record of what was there. The greenhouses had a number of ponds and an interesting landscape that could be confusing if future archaeologists were to dig it up without a reference.

Taking Measurements and Documenting the Site, Photo by CAPMSU

At first glance, from the outside, the greenhouse looked run-down, abandoned, and decrepit.  Once we gained access inside to carry out our survey work, my colleagues and I took a few moments to visually poke around the place, noting all of the invasive/pioneer species growing throughout.  Soil was upturned, vine-y plants had forged unexpected pathways, and snippets of old identification cards were strewn throughout – with familiar Linnaean classificatory names such as Brassicaceae.  We carried on with our assignment and took a series of measurements, such as the perimeter of the greenhouse, various depths, and remaining wooden walkway.

According to the Student Greenhouse Project, the nearby greenhouse and its accompanying “Butterfly House” were multi-functional and were used for various student activities, such as poetry readings, drum-circles, and concerts.  In addition to being used as an educational facility, the local community used these spaces for weddings; health walks for heart patients from nearby Sparrow Hospital, and educational tours for elementary students from as far away as Saginaw Bay.  For more on this, please visit the Student Greenhouse Project website for more information and be sure to check out their photos that document the recent history of these nearby greenhouses!

This Week’s Surveys

This Week’s Surveys

This week we are doing two surveys for Campus Archaeology on MSU’s campus. This first is part of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) and the second is part of the demolition of the Old Botany greenhouses. The FRIB project was awarded to MSU 

Perceptions about Archaeology

Perceptions about Archaeology

As the only non-archaeologist graduate fellow in Campus Archaeology Program (I am a medical anthropologist in training), I wanted to investigate the attitudes that others outside the discipline have toward archaeology. Interestingly enough, when I tell people I am an anthropologist, it is usually assumed 

Saints’ Rest Sidewalk Project

Saints’ Rest Sidewalk Project

Over the past week, the Campus Archaeology team has been busy excavating beneath the sidewalks that were laid above Saints’ Rest. The building was first erected in 1856. It is the second building constructed at Michigan State University and the first dormitory. The name, Saints’ Rest, was a nickname from the students to the building more commonly known as the ‘hall’ or ‘home’. It was named so after a religious devotional book by Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, which was first published circa 1649 and was required reading for the first class of MSU students. The building was poorly made and in the winter of 1876, it burned down.

Saints Rest in 1857, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

In 2005 the northeast portion of the building and parts of the western interior were excavated as part of the sesquicentennial of MSU. Over a six week period the archaeological team discovered stoves, barrels, ceramics, student belongings, building equipment and conducted a thorough excavation. However, large portions of the building couldn’t be examined due to the sidewalks that crisscrossed over it. Later excavations in 2008 and 2009 in the same general area revealed a trash pit associated with the site.

Revealing the NW Corner of Saints’ Rest, 2012

As part of the general sidewalk reconstruction project occurring over the past month, the sidewalks above Saints’ Rest were removed. This gave us the opportunity to fill in a blank spot of the first excavation and explore the northwest portion of the building. Once the sidewalks were removed we began our survey by skimming off layers of dirt in 10cm intervals. When we were down about 20cm we hit a layer of mottled dirt with tons of artifacts throughout it. We found dozens of nails, pieces of ceramic, and chunks of glass. Another 10cm lower and we found a clear layer of grey and black ash. We knew we were close! Below that layer we hit the building itself.

After a week of cleaning and removing dirt we have been able to reveal a large section of the northernmost wall, the northwest corner (including the cornerstone of the building), and one interior room at the eastern edge of the building. We have recovered whole glass bottles, inkwells, sash weights and pulleys, slate pencils, buttons, porcelain, piping, and a large number of unidentifiable metal pieces. Today is the last day of the project, and we are carefully mapping out the foundation walls, and photographing the site.

North Wall of Saints' Rest, 2012
North Wall of Saints’ Rest, 2012

Most of us who are working on the dig are newer to MSU, and hadn’t gotten the chance to work on the original Saints’ Rest excavation. It is exciting to work in the first dormitory and reveal a new section. We are actively adding to MSU’s history! Once we are done, the foundation will be covered back up, the sidewalks will be replaced and we will begin analysis of the artifacts. Saints’ Rest will once again be buried beneath our feet.

Maps and Mysteries

Maps and Mysteries

About three weeks ago we learned that MSU Landscaping was going to be re-doing the sidewalks above Saints’ Rest, the first dormitory on campus. While we’ve had a number of excavations near this area, we never got the opportunity to see what was underneath these