Tag: artifacts

Alluring Artifacts: Interrogating Cosmetics and Bodily-Hygiene Products from the Late Post-War Campus

Alluring Artifacts: Interrogating Cosmetics and Bodily-Hygiene Products from the Late Post-War Campus

Cosmetic and hygiene-related products, perhaps due to the personal and often somewhat private nature of their use, are a deeply compelling class of artifacts. As commodities through which we tailor our appearance (or odor) and in turn shape our relationships and encounters with others, objects 

What A Waste: CAP’s Take on MSU Bathroom Garbology

What A Waste: CAP’s Take on MSU Bathroom Garbology

This blog invites you to participate in Garbology–the practice of looking at modern trash to understand how archaeological deposits are formed (Rathje 1992). Go to your bathroom and take a look around. How many hygiene products do you have? What is the packaging made of? 

CAP Archaeological Ethics

CAP Archaeological Ethics

We love the work we do through MSU’s Campus Archaeology. While our primary purpose is to mitigate and protect the archaeological and cultural resources on MSU’s campus, CAP goes above and beyond to also engage with our public audience and local community through outreach and social media. We truly believe outreach is essential because our aim is to share the history of MSU to the entire Greater Lansing area so that we can all answer questions about its past and better understand what has shaped the development of MSU and its students. And this is a similar feeling across archaeology, as Watkins and colleagues (2000:40) argue that “the products of our research belong to the public.”

However, we must be careful in our outreach to adhere to ethical guidelines and standards. We work with historical artifacts that do not belong to us, but to those that came before us. Several laws have been enacted for this purpose (and for the preservation of archaeological sites), such as the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, and the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Messenger 2014). But, these require the active cooperation and support of archaeologists to ensure that cultural resources are properly protected and cared for in a timely manner.

We also have to be aware of potential implications of sharing artifacts with the public. One such example is that by openly sharing information about our excavation sites, we are sharing locations from which artifacts can be found and be taken out of context. We are lucky here at MSU that we work on university grounds and do not always have to worry about potential risk or looting, but this is not the case at every excavation site. When we are working with artifacts recovered outside of MSU, or outside of Michigan, we must make sure we have the permissions to share those artifacts, and if we can, we must think carefully about how to display such information.

But, what rules apply when we showcase artifacts found on MSU’s campus? This does depend on the time period of the artifact, but if they are related to college life, like the majority of our CAP collections, and they are found on MSU’s campus, we are employees of MSU and so we are able to legally showcase our artifacts to the public. Of course, this does not hold true for artifacts that are potentially Indigenous or the cultural patrimony of another entity in Michigan. In these cases, it is our responsibility to work with the appropriate governing bodies in order to ensure artifacts are maintained properly and returned. In other words, we always work to properly identify an artifact before it is used for outreach in order to ensure we are adhering to legal and ethical standards that have been clearly defined through years of practice.

In terms of sharing artifacts on social media, many debate the use of digitized artifacts, such as those that have been photographed or scanned and are freely available online, because the question of authenticity comes into play. If we are able to fully digitize a site, what does this mean for site conservation? If we are able to fully digitize an artifact, should we keep the original? And if we are digitizing artifacts, how can we ensure their security, while maintaining data transparency? And how should digital artifacts be maintained and shared with the community? Richter and colleagues (2013) bring up these questions and sources of debate in archaeology in an effort to raise awareness to these new issues and how they might impact and change the field. Technology does not mean an end to archaeology, but certain opens up new questions about how we use it for our work.

While we do digitize artifacts in CAP, we focus on historic artifacts that can clearly tell us about MSU’s past, or that of the Greater East Lansing area. Additionally, digitization of artifacts and sites are extremely useful in our case, as we work on a university campus that is ever growing and changing. Therefore, some sites were already destroyed long before CAP began in 2007 and others cannot be fully protected. In these cases, we focus on artifact curation and how digitization can play its own role in this process. In terms of outreach, we maintain data transparency by striving to use technology that is open sourced with open code in an effort to provide resources that are accessible to all. We want to use digitization of appropriate artifacts so that we can best connect with the public and we feel that this has been especially essential this past year without any face to face events.

All in all, this blog is meant to show that CAP takes its outreach and cultural resource management roles seriously. For example, all of our CAP fellows recently attended a webinar on NAGPRA and its role at MSU. And soon, we will all begin SHIPO and NPI training for work this summer so that we can maintain safety and ethical standards in all of our work. We always want to engage with our local communities, but we will continue to do so as ethically as possible so that we are able to best serve all of you.

We would like to to take this opportunity to highlight a three part discussion of archaeological ethics presented in the Society for American Archaeology March 2021 Newsletter: http://onlinedigeditions.com/publication/?m=16146&i=700116&p=56&ver=html5. The discussion responds to 2020 archaeological ethics survey. Interestingly enough, this set of articles was released the same day as this blog and, as such, the blog does not mention it. However, we believe this to be an important part of ongoing discussions of ethic in archaeology and felt it would be good to share it here.

References:

  • Fouseki, K. & Vacharopoulou, K. (2013). Digital Museum Collections and Social Media: Ethical Considerations of Ownership and Use. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies, 11(1), p.Art. 5. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jcms.1021209
  • Messenger P.M. (2014) Ethics of Collecting Cultural Heritage. In: Smith C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1175
  • Richter A.M., Petrovic V., Vanoni D., Parish S.M., Kuester F., & Levy T.E. (2013) “Digital archaeological landscapes & replicated artifacts: Questions of analytical & phenomenological authenticity & ethical policies in cyberarchaeology.” In: Digital Heritage International Congress (DigitalHeritage), Marseille, France, 2013, pp. 569-572, doi: 10.1109/DigitalHeritage.2013.6744826
  • Society of American Archaeology Statement on Ethics in Professional Archaeology. Accessed at: https://www.saa.org/career-practice/ethics-in-professional-archaeology
  • Society of Historical Archaeology. Statement on Ethics Principles. Accessed at: https://archaeologicalethics.org/code-of-ethics/society-for-historical-archaeology-sha-ethics-principles/
  • Watkins, J., L. Goldstein, K.D. Vitelli & L. Jenkins. 2000. Accountability: responsibilities of archaeologists to other interest groups, in M. Lynott & A. Wylie (ed.) Ethics in American archaeology: 40-44. Washington (DC): Society for American Archaeology.

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Greetings from Dr. Camp, the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. This summer has been one of great concern for our community and nation as well as one where we have had to rethink how we approach Campus Archaeology amid a global pandemic. Under 

Modeling the Past: Photogrammetry and Anthropological Research

Modeling the Past: Photogrammetry and Anthropological Research

For my CAP project this year, I decided to do something at which I feel I’m particularly good: creating 3D models of artifacts found during CAP excavations. I have been using digital technologies to render 3D models for about three years now and have created 

MSU at the Midwest Archaeological Conference

MSU at the Midwest Archaeological Conference

Next week is the annual Midwest Archaeological Conference (October 4-6, 2018) in Notre Dame. Below is a list of dates and times of all MSU presentations, posters, and discussants. Included in these are two posters on Campus Archaeology projects that you should check out!

Friday, october 5

9 am – 12:15 pm Symposium
Storing Culture: Subterranean Storage in the Upper Midwest (Auditorium)

9:15 am – Now and Later: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Hunter-Gatherer Food Storage Practices by Kathryn Frederick (former Campus Archaeologist)
12 pm – Discussant, Dr. William Lovis

10 am – 12 pm General Poster Session
Reports from the Field (Room 210-214)

Archaeology along the Banks of the Red Cedar: Summary of 2018 Riverbank Survey by Jeffrey M. Painter, Autumn M. Painter, and Jack A. Biggs (Campus Archaeology Program)

1:30 pm – 4:30 pm General Poster Session
Materials and Methods (Room 210-214)

Historic Cuisine on the Go: A Campus Archaeology Program and MSU Food Truck Collaboration by Autumn M. Painter and Susan M. Kooiman (Campus Archaeology Program)

Saturday, october 6

9 am -11:45 am General Session
Middle Mississippian to Late Prehistoric Lifeways (Auditorium)

11:30 am – A Revised History of the Late Precontact and Historic Era Occupations of the Cloudman Site by Susan M. Kooiman and Heather Walder

1:30 pm – 4 pm General Session
Landscape, Settlements, and Their Detection (Room 100-104)

3:45 pm – Trade Relationships of 18th-Century Ottawa along the Grand River, Michigan by Jessica Yann

 

The Many Faces of Cowles House, MSU’s Oldest Building

The Many Faces of Cowles House, MSU’s Oldest Building

This summer, Cowles House, MSU’s oldest standing building, is due to get a facelift. As part of this remodeling, crews will remove a few trees from around and inside the building and expand the west wing.  In preparation for this work, I have been researching 

Sorting the Admin Artifact Assemblage

Sorting the Admin Artifact Assemblage

Archaeology is like a puzzle- only you don’t know what picture you’ll end up with and some of the pieces are either broken, burnt or missing. As you may have read previously, on our last day of summer excavation, Campus Archaeology discovered a potential trash 

Winter is Coming: The Cold Days of CAP

Winter is Coming: The Cold Days of CAP

It’s official, winter is coming. Scratch that, it’s here. I woke up this morning to a snow dusted car and icy roads (bonus points for avoiding the fishtailing 4×4). In the best years I’m an extreme, fair weather fan of winter. By the end of August I’m usually looking forward to the cooling weather, changing leaves, and enjoying the beauty of freshly fallen snow…for about 6 weeks. By the time January roles around I’m already cursing the frigid temperatures and dreaming of the sun and sweat of summer archaeology. After last winter’s arctic blasts and record breaking snow falls, I think my tolerance this year is at an all time low. I commute an hour to campus, so the winter of 2014 was downright traumatizing.

While winter is clearly not my favorite season, and definitely not an exciting one for Michigan archaeology, it is a good time to catch up on everything. CAP had a busy summer with the discovery of the Vet Lab, shovel testing People’s Park, and an excavation of a trash pit on the LAST day of digging. The fall was equally busy with planning for our Apparitions and Archaeology Halloween event and creating the historic panels for Chittenden Hall (these will soon be displayed in  Chittenden so stop by and check them out). While I’m not looking forward to the winter weather, I am looking forward to the slower winter months.

That is not to say that we wont be busy at CAP, everyone is still working diligently on their projects. But during the cold winter months we have more time to cozy into the archives and keep warm in the lab. This may be a sad statement, but I’m excited to catch up on reports and lab work. To, not only finally have the time to devote to these endeavors, but to have enough time to do them well. I am never quite relaxed and comfortable until everything is in its proper place, labeled, cataloged, and filed.  I love fieldwork as much as the next archaeologist, but it’s calming to know that everything we find in the field properly cataloged and available for research, and not just thrown onto a shelf, never to be studied again.

Over the winter it’s my goal to finish the accessioning. Since we received official Site numbers from the State last year, we’ve been accessioning our artifacts through the MSU Museum. It is a tedious process to go through and label all the artifacts we’ve found since 2005, but it’s great to familiarize myself with every single artifact CAP has excavated. Other CAP fellows Blair and Lisa will be helping me on the accession project throughout the winter.

I should enjoy the winter while it lasts, because before I know it we’ll be planning our Summer 2015 Field School and preparing for another whirlwind summer.

Updates on the CAP Typoloogy

Updates on the CAP Typoloogy

Hello CAP blog followers! Thank you for your patience as I get back into blogging. This semester I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Kiluna Rosali so I had to delay my first post for a bit. Nevertheless this semester I am finishing