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 […]
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, […]
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 the history of this building, as well as what previous CAP excavations have recovered in the area.
Completed in 1857, Cowles House was one of four homes built to house the earliest faculty members and administrators of MSU. Some of the most prominent individuals in MSU’s history, such as Williams, Abbot, Beal, Bessey, Hannah, and McPherson, all lived in this house during their tenure at the college (Brock 2009; Kuhn 1955). From 1857-1874, Cowles House served as the residence of the college president. After 1874, Cowles House, then known as Faculty Row No. 7, functioned as the home of the professor of Botany (Beal 1915:35, 267; http://archives.msu.edu/collections/buildings.php).
During these early decades, Cowles house was not only a place of residence, but was also a hub of campus entertainment. Early on, no organized social life existed on MSU’s campus. Students instead gravitated towards faculty homes, where faculty and staff would regularly host small get-togethers (Kuhn 1955:127). The Abbot’s, who lived in Cowles House during their time at the college, frequently invited students and guests into their home. As documented by Kuhn, Abbot had students come to his home weekly to read and discuss literature. They also entertained on the weekends: “On Saturday nights the Abbot home was open to students; twenty or thirty would gather about the fire to eat apples and to talk of politics, of ethics, and of literature” (Kuhn 1955:90).
By the early 1900s, Cowles House had been repurposed to serve a broader function. On a 1927 map of campus (MSU archives: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-114F/map-of-msu-campus-and-buildings-1927/), Cowles House is labeled as “Secretary’s House,” indicating a switch from residential space to a more administrative one. I have not been able to discover more about what this label entails, such as if the house was entirely office space during this time, but it is clear that the space was no longer reserved for faculty use.
In 1941, under the Hannah administration, Cowles House once again became the home of the president of the university. As such, the building underwent major renovations after the end of World War II, during which much of the building was rebuilt and a new wing was added to the west end (Kuhn 1955:402). Recently, Cowles House has functioned as an entertainment and banquet space, as recent presidents have decided to live off campus (Brock 2009).
Cowles House has been of great interest to Campus Archaeology due to its location within the Sacred Space. As little has changed in this part of campus, this area has the potential for preserving intact archaeological deposits from the earliest days of campus. CAP has conducted numerous surveys around the building, including in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014 (CAP Reports 7, 11, and 15), but we are yet to find any clear features or concentrations of materials. Instead, only a diffuse scatter of artifacts has been found around the building. Brick fragments, window glass, nails, and other construction debris are the most common objects found, while a few ceramic sherds, animal bones, bottle glass, and two golf balls have also been recovered. In general, this record is likely the result of construction and remodeling episodes, mixed in with trash from everyday life. While CAP has tested extensively around the building, we have not investigated every area, and plan to survey and monitor intently as renovations take place this summer. We are always on the look-out for that rare deposit that can provide us insights into the lives of the early MSU faculty and presidents!
1915 History of the Michigan Agricultural College and Biographical Sketches of Trustees and Professors. Michigan Agricultural College, East Lansing
2009 “Survey Spot: Cowles House” Blog posted on CAP website, Sept. 9, 2009.
CAP Report 7
2009 Music Building and Cowles House Survey. Campus Archaeology Program.
CAP Report 11
2011 Walter Adams Field Survey: Archaeological Report. Campus Archaeology Program.
CAP Report 15
2012 West Circle Steam I Survey: Archaeological Report. Campus Archaeology Program.
1955 Michigan State: The First Hundred Years. The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.
MSU Archives and Historical Collections:
Gone but Not Forgotten: Campus Buildings that No Longer Exist. Online Exhibit. http://archives.msu.edu/collections/buildings.php
Map of MSU Campus and Buildings, 1927. http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-114F/map-of-msu-campus-and-buildings-1927/
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 […]
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 […]
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 up the CAP typology from last year. Here is a look at our progress to far and our goals for this semester.
As you may remember, CAP receives new budding archaeologists every year. These new students come from a spectrum of interest and experiences with archaeology and field work in particular. Therefore, CAP has set out to establish a type collection to introduce new students to the range of artifacts found during campus excavations. This collection is comprised of some of the common building materials, samples of the various bottles found, as well as bone fragments, ceramics, and personal items used throughout MSU’s history.
So far we have been able to identify key artifacts from sites such as Morrill Hall, the Brody Complex, and areas throughout the Sacred Center. These artifacts are re-labeled to reflect their initial provenience. We will then and put them on a separate, easily accessible shelf for students to become familiar with prior to setting out into the field. The collection will be used to help the students identify potential artifacts during shovel tests, walk throughs, and full scale excavations.
This year I am teaming up with Ciera Uyeunten, an anthropology major with an interest in artifact photography. Ciera will use photography skills to ensure that we have a digital version of the type collection. This version would be very useful in the field for on-site assistance. We also plan on creating a user friendly digital map with the associated artifacts along with pictures of the historic campus sites. This map will allow users to not only identify artifacts from specific areas on campus but also see some of the photos from different periods of campus life to get a sense of the activities from each site.
We are very excited to bring this project to the next level and look forward to more updates throughout the semester!
Numbers are important for archaeologists. We number each excavation we do, each hole within our surveys, and every single bag of artifacts we fill. These numbers help us keep organized. We can match the bag numbers with the site numbers, shovel test numbers with specific […]
The large amount of rain East Lansing has experienced over the past three weeks has deeply affected the construction and archaeology on campus. This delay in work has allowed us at the Campus Archaeology Program to turn our attention to the other side of archaeology: finds […]
We’ve been out doing our first two weeks of excavation at Jenison Field House and within West Circle Drive. So far we’ve found a number of interesting artifacts including an old gin bottle from brooklyn and a layer of burnt bricks possibly related to the Old Williams Hall. Before we get too far into the season, here are some introductions to our summer team!
Katy Meyers: I have been the Campus Archaeologist for two years, and this will be my last summer in this position. Over the past two years heading up the CAP teams I have excavated across the campus, gotten to do a dig at the first dormitory at MSU (Saints Rest) and excavated the Morrill Boiler Building found under East Circle Drive. In addition to this, I am currently a 3rd year PhD graduate student in Anthropology at MSU, and my research focus is on bi-ritual cemeteries in the UK. I got my start in archaeology through video games like Tomb Raider, and summer trips to my parent’s cabin where I got the chance to run up and down a gully finding fossils and early 20th century artifacts from the early cabins in the area. While my research does focus on cemeteries and funerary processes, I have done work on a number of historic and prehistoric sites throughout the Midwest and Northeast. I have truly loved being part of Campus Archaeology because it allows me to add to the history of MSU, and help create connections between the current and past campus.
Katie Scharra: I am a recent graduate of Michigan State University. Originally, I began a program in Microbiology. After travelling during my sophomore and junior years to Europe and exploring different cultures I had a change of interests. I wanted to look for an academic program that took my interest in science and applied it more culturally. This brought me into the Anthropology department where I began to study mortuary archaeology. In the future, I would like to apply both my microbiology and anthropology degrees with a PhD in Bioarchaeology. In order to gain experience in field methods and to keep up my archaeology skills during my current gap year I joined the Campus Archaeology team. Over the past year, I have worked on a few digs across campus and worked with the artifacts. In the spring I was involved with cleaning and interpreting the artifacts recovered from the October 2012 excavation of Saint’s Rest, the first dormitory on campus. During this project, a partner and I organized the finds in to a classification based on use (i.e. home goods, school items, building materials). This allowed to us to have a look in to the more realistic lives of the first Spartans. We presented our findings and the 2013 University Undergraduate’s Research Forum. This summer I am looking forward to continuing investigation into the changing landscapes and lifestyles of campus.
Bethany Slon: I am an undergraduate student majoring in Anthropology, and this fall I will be starting my senior year at Michigan State University, anticipating graduation in December. I started working with Campus Archaeology in the summer of 2012 as a volunteer, and the following fall semester I began work as an intern under the direction of Dr. Goldstein and Katy Meyers. My research involved looking at the early years of the Women’s Building (now called Morrill Hall) and gathering information about the first female students who lived in this dorm. The MSU archives was very useful with my study; they provided me with scrapbooks made by the female residents of the Women’s Building, in addition to maps, photos, and plenty of other information. I eventually presented this information at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, linking it to Campus Archaeology and what the demolition of Morrill Hall means to us. This summer I am working again with Campus Archaeology, this time to monitor construction and make sure nothing of historical or archeological value is destroyed or missed. I eventually want to become a bioarchaeologist, specializing in Central American locations. I’ll be attending MSU’s Dr. Wrobel’s field school this summer in Belize, where I will be doing research on caries of the ancient Mayan population that used to live there, giving me both experience and knowledge I’ll need for the future. Graduate school is also in the plans for me, though where I’ll be going is yet to be decided. Archaeology has always been a passion of mine, and I am lucky to have found this experience with Campus Archaeology, both to broaden my skills as an archaeologist and to do what I love.
Josh Schnell: I am a freshman here at MSU, majoring in Anthropology and Religious Studies, with a specialization in Latin American Studies. I have been working with Campus Archaeology since February of 2013 when I began an internship learning how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software in an archaeological context. This summer, as a member of the Campus Archaeology Survey Team I will be digging during and monitoring various construction projects to ensure our campus’ cultural heritage is not lost. I am an aspiring bioarchaeologist with a strong interest in mortuary practices, and I also volunteer in MSU’s bioarchaeology lab. A strong fascination with ancient cultures is what first drew me to archaeology as a potential career in middle school, and ever since then I have been dedicated to protecting, investigating, and educating others about our past. As President and Webmaster of the Undergraduate Anthropology Club at MSU, I have a strong interest in building a social foundation and creating an environment where other anthropology students can learn, collaborate, and help each other. I hope that through working with the Campus Archaeology Program this summer I will gain experience in conducting Cultural Resource Management work in the field, as well as expand upon general archaeological field skills.
Marie Schaefer: I come to the Campus Archeology Program from a more cultural anthropology background. However, I have always thought to be a good anthropologist you need to have a least a basic understanding of all the subfields of anthropology (cultural, archeological, linguistics, biological). This is especially true if you are going to be working with any Native American tribes or conducting any applied anthological projects in which you might be working with anthropologists and others from all different backgrounds. As a result, I have searched out opportunities to gain an understanding of the different perspectives of anthropology. After graduating from Eastern Michigan University with a BS in anthropology I went to Northern Arizona University for my masters where I had the opportunity to conduct a needs and asset assessment with Hopi women for the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office on why Hopi women’s traditional knowledge is not being passed down to the next generation and suggestions on how to stem the tide of this knowledge loss. Currently I am in the PhD program in anthropology at Michigan State University with a very applied focus to my work which focuses on how indigenous knowledge and Western scientific knowledge can be integrated in order to assist in the creation of sustainable futures for indigenous people. The CAP program offers me a unique opportunity to not only learn more about the amazing history of a land grant university but also to gain a deeper understanding of the work of anthropologists in order to serve as a bridge between tribes and archeologists.
Down in the Campus Archaeology lab we are dealing with an interesting problem. Two of our volunteers, Katie and Dana, have been diligently cleaning and cataloging artifacts from the work we did this past Fall. As most of you know, we excavated the Northwest portion […]