Tag: CAP Fellows

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 

CAP Fellows Reflect on a Society for Historical Archaeology Anti-racism Training

CAP Fellows Reflect on a Society for Historical Archaeology Anti-racism Training

In this blog post CAP fellows share our reflections on an anti-racism, anti-bias training we took on Friday October 30th . The training was sponsored by the Society for Historical Archaeology and dozens of archaeologists, educators, and heritage professionals participated in the four hour session. 

The Haunted Tour Re-CAP: Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Haunted Tour Re-CAP: Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Pandemic

With COVID-19 still dictating much of our day-to-day lives, Campus Archaeology made the early call to put all of our outreach events for the foreseeable future online or in some digital format. One of our most popular and fun events we put on is the annual Apparitions and Archaeology Haunted Campus Tour. This usually takes place in the week before Halloween. This year, we made our haunted tour a virtual event that occurred in the form of videos, a choose-your-own-path digital tour, and a live panel Q&A session. This event was facilitated by the MSU Alumni Office and hosted by CAP director Dr. Stacey L. Camp along with the CAP Fellows and Brienna Shear, Co-President of the MSU Paranormal Society.

In the usual in-person event, CAP Fellows and MSU Paranormal Society members are stationed at the “haunted” locations on campus. At each stop CAP and Paranormal Society speakers relay the history, archaeology, and reported hauntings to audience members who then move on to a new stop. In preparation for this year’s virtual event, CAP released a new choose-your-own path digital tour (made through Twine).

The benefit of this version of the tour was that CAP was able to add much more historical, archaeological, and contextual information to each of the stops than we could possibly share the in-person event. This new information includes descriptions of historical campus figures, artifacts, student life, and even administrative and construction accounts that played a part in the shaping of campus. Additionally, Elizabeth Schondelmayer, the Communications Coordinator for the College of Social Sciences created a spooky trailer for the event while Devante Kennedy, the Digital Production Lead for the Alumni Office, helped CAP create a haunted tour video.

Map of some of the stops on the Apparitions and Archaeology: A Haunted Campus Tour. Map by Jack A. Biggs

As mentioned above, CAP hosted a live Q&A session on Wednesday the 28th, the same night the in-person event would have occurred. After some technical difficulties getting started (archaeologists are more comfortable around dirt and old artifacts than computers!), viewers who joined in were able to ask the panel questions about the history or hauntings of campus. While we love doing the in-person event, this virtual format afforded some great advantages.

First, we were able to have a much more open dialogue with the audience. During the normal in-person event, speakers are not afforded much time to answer questions about specific locations or paranormal experiences. Speakers at each site present quick spiel of the history and hauntings and there is time for maybe one or two questions before the next group of attendees arrives. The virtual panel hosted on October 28th gave the audience the ability to ask many more questions, even if they were submitted beforehand, and allowed us (the panel) to answer to a degree or depth for which we normally wouldn’t have the time.

Secondly, and related to the first point, the panel format allowed a much larger breadth of questions. In the in-person event, the few questions there is time for are usually related to the specific site or location where the speakers and attendees are. Hosting a virtual Q&A session meant that people could ask any question they wanted about our normally discussed sites, different areas on campus that they may have a connection to, campus history in general, our experiences within Campus Archaeology, and even about hauntings in other areas of campus. The amount and range of topics we were asked about could have only been addressed in this digital format.

Screenshot of a page on the Twine Haunted Tour.

Lastly, the virtual event meant that attendees did not even have to be in the East Lansing area to attend. While the pandemic has been rough on us all, it has simultaneously made everyone rethink how to best communicate and share information with each other. As a result, some of the attendees for the event may have even been on the other side of the country! This means that while we may all prefer in-person events, the Covid-19 pandemic has not stopped us from sharing fascinating histories, accounts, and artifacts from MSU’s campus.

While the in-person Haunted Tour is always one of our favorites to host, the virtual Q&A session gave us the opportunity for a more in-depth and personal dialogue with attendees. Hopefully, this pandemic will come to a swift end so that we can get back to “normal”. Until that time, though, CAP is committed to public outreach in the safest and most impactful way possible.

If you happened to miss the event or would like re-watch any of the videos or take our Twine Tour, please click on the links below!

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

Thank you Autumn Painter, outgoing Campus Archaeologist: As we say goodbye to outgoing Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter who, in her two years in the position, continued CAP’s legacy of creative outreach, education, and mitigation while also profoundly shaping the future of the program, we welcome 

Stranger in the Lab

Stranger in the Lab

“What were you thinking?!” I asked myself a cool day in September. I kept my eyes down toward the black tabletop to avoid making eye contact with the trowels across from me that seemed to be staring back and whispering “you’re in the wrong building!” 

Final ReCAP: A Fellow’s Farewell to Campus Archaeology

Final ReCAP: A Fellow’s Farewell to Campus Archaeology

Hello, old friends. It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye. It is a bittersweet farewell: I’ve finished my Ph.D. (a good thing),and it is therefore time for me to end my tenure with Campus Archaeology (a sad thing). The past three-and-a-half years spent with Campus Archaeology have contributed tremendously to my growth as a scholar and public archaeologist. For my final post, I decided to reCAP some highlights of my tenure as a CAP fellow.

Throw the Pipe Down the Pooper! – This is one of my most popular blogs, and you may be able to imagine why. It’s a fun read with a cheeky title, and writing this blog was a hoot. A rogue student throwing his illicit broken smoking pipe down the toilet to avoid getting caught with contraband—does it get much better than that? I think not. Plus, it’s my favorite blog title ever.

Archaic projectile points discovered on the MSU Campus (photo by W.A. Lovis)

Ancient MSU – My first year as a CAP fellow I was tasked with writing a report on the only precolonial Native American site on the MSU campus. Part of the larger Beaumont West site, it is a small campsite dating to the Archaic period, which means it’s over 3000 years old. This was a time before the people of ancient Michigan generally used pottery, so as a pottery expert, this was a challenge. I am not, well, the best at lithic (stone tool) analysis. However, the process did improve and expand my analytic skills, and it helped me better acquaint myself with the pre-MSU landscape. There is not much in the way of ancient indigenous archaeological materials on any part of campus because, quite honestly, it didn’t used to be a great place to live. The campus is naturally very low and wet, so not an ideal living situation. The Beaumont West site is located on one of the most naturally high and dry parts of campus, of which some keen Archaic groups took advantage. This research project, in addition to conducting survey shovel tests across campus, helped me understand just how much the MSU landscape has been filled in and altered to make it the relatively level, dry ,and livable space it is today.

Offerings from the 1860s Luncheon hosted by CAP and MSU Culinary Services (photo by S.M. Kooiman)

Capturing Campus Cuisine – This is, of course, my favorite project, as you can no doubt tell by my numerous blogs about food. However, this was more than just a fun project. It was an incredible opportunity to develop my experience in public archaeology, and it spurred my passion for creative outreach. From hosting the 1860’s luncheon, to having our historic meals featured on the MSU Food Truck, to our collaboration with the Student Organic Farm to bring back salsify (which is evidently trendy in Britain now, so we are on the cutting edge!), our project has been non-stop fun. Being able to reach out to people and identify with folks from the past through food has been a truly wonderful experience. Getting to eat some of the food along the way was also pretty cool.

Me having a cow over excavating a cow skeleton

Don’t Have a Cow – The discovery of the skeletonized cow buried six feet underground on campus this past summer was exciting, and the opportunity to help excavate it was a new and fun opportunity for me since I haven’t really worked on burials, animal or human, before. It also tied in nicely to my prior research and blogs on the history of dairy at MSU, which was also great because it gave me an excuse to eat cheese and ice cream.

CAP fellows standing around while Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter does all the work during the USDA Rose Lake Survey

CAPeople – It might sound trite, but the people I have worked with at CAP are what made my tenure as a fellow truly enjoyable. First,the opportunity to learn from and work with Dr. Lynne Goldstein was incredibly important for me. She has taught me so much about archaeology, outreach, and the inner workings of the university system, and she has been a supportive mentor as I explore my options outside of CAP. Working with Dr. Stacey Camp this past semester has also brought new insights and perspectives to my work,and I also appreciate her insider perspective on the figure skating world (she’s met Kristy Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan!). It’s been a joy to collaborate with Autumn Painter on the food project for the past couple years. She has been a wonderful project partner (who enjoys food as much as I do), and to see her thriving as the Campus Archaeologists this semester has been great. I also had a great time working with Lisa Bright, my motivated and creative CAPtain for three years. The food project was initially her idea, so I owe a lot to her creativity (which also came in handy for developing punny blog titles).

There were also times when I would hang out with my friends and then suddenly realize that everybody there was a CAP fellow. CAP certainly helped me form lifelong friendships and bonds and for that I will always be grateful. That is, until I become a famous food travel TV personality and forget everyone… (we can all dream, can’t we?).

So, farewell, CAP blog readers. I hope you have enjoyed my ruminations and research. If you are interested in reading more about ancient food and pottery, follow my personal blog, Hot for Pots!

And farewell CAP. It’s been one crazy ride through history.

Meet the 2016-2017 CAP Fellows

Meet the 2016-2017 CAP Fellows

It’s that time again, meet the 2016-2017 CAP fellows.  We’re excited to get to work on a batch of new projects this year, under the guidance of CAP director Dr. Lynne Goldstein. Lisa Bright: Lisa is a third year PhD student in Anthropology, returning for her 

Final Grad Project Update

Final Grad Project Update

Well, the semester is finally done, and we’re wrapping up our projects from the year. Here are updates from two of our graduate researchers on what they’ve accomplished! Amy: During the fall semester, I continued to research sustainability on the historic campus. I tried to pick 

The New Grad Student Research Team

The New Grad Student Research Team

Every year Campus Archaeology has a number of graduate students working on various projects. These projects use the artifacts, excavation reports and historic documents to conduct research about MSU’s past. Previous projects have examined animal bones to determine butchering and dietary habits of the late 19th century campus, and information about the landscape and previous excavations were used to create a computer based model for determining where prehistoric site would most likely be found. Please meet our team for this year!

Amy Michael is a fifth year graduate student studying mortuary sites of the ancient Maya in Belize. She works as a field crew member on the Caves Branch Archaeological Survey and has archaeological experience digging in Illinois, Michigan, and Belize. Using dental microscopy, Amy’s dissertation project focuses on the health experience of individuals buried in caves and rockshelters in the Late and Terminal Classic Periods. Last year, as a CAP fellow, Amy worked on a project regarding sustainability practices of the historic MSU campus, a project she is continuing this year. Her other research interests range from archaeological to forensic, and include the movement of human bone through caves and rockshelter mortuary contexts, the effect of alcohol on bone aging, and the determination of a “human signature” for osteon area size and circumference for use in positively identifying human bone.

As a CAP fellow this year, Amy will be continuing her research on sustainability throughout MSU’s history. She is currently researching changes in transportation since the campus first opened and what these changes mean for energy sustainability.

Sylvia Deskaj is a doctoral student in the department of anthropology at MSU, and you can read about her here.  She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a B.A. in anthropology.  She has done fieldwork in Belize, Peru and CRM in New Orleans. Since 2008, she has worked in the Balkan nation of Albania, and is beginning a dissertation on human mobility during the Bronze Age in the Shkoder region of the country.  She is interested in the social aspects of death and burial during that time period.  Last summer, she also began work on a project in Greece, focused on the massive Neolithic cave complex called Alepotrypa (Fox Hole), where she is studying the distribution of 100s of pieces of scattered human bone. Lastly, she lives with my two cats – Black Nose and White Nose – who’ve recently become famous on CatBook (https://apps.facebook.com/catbook/profile/view/9950901).

Her CAP project for the year is to develop innovative ways to get information about archaeology (in general) and CAP (in particular) to multiple publics in an effort to increase our visibility.  This involves working closely with various members of the community in an attempt to create effective lesson plans that strive to further engage the public with archaeology and the efforts of CAP.  Please let her know if you have ideas that would help with this endeavor!

Sabrina Perlman is a first year anthropology graduate student. Her concentration is in medical anthropology but she has always had a deep
interest in archaeology and its value in understanding the past and present. Her research interests are diabetes, health care models, the experience of illness and health-seeking choices in various countries in West Africa.

The project she will be involved in this year has to do with the idea of the “center of campus,” an idea which has evolved over time as the campus has changed both geographically and functionally. She hopes to create a visual interface of understanding the changes that occurred and what the implications of this have been.

Blair Starnes is a doctoral student in both the African American Studies Program and the Department of Anthropology here at MSU. Her doctoral research focuses on the archaeology of the Old Kongo Kingdom of central west Africa.

As new addition to the Campus Archaeology Program, her role will be to help develop a systematic way of identifying and analyzing artifacts found on CAP excavations. These typologies will be used to assist future students with adding new information to our collections as CAP continues to unearth MSU’s past.