The presence of international students on campus began early in MSU’s history. Not even two decades after MSU’s founding, four international students were enrolled for the fall semester in 1873. Two of these students were from Japan, one from Holland, and one from Canada . …
The Saints’ Rest excavations conducted by the Campus Archaeology Program have been well-documented and researched not only because this was the inaugural project for CAP, but also that it is one of the earliest buildings on campus, giving us a rare glimpse into how students …
Where did the kitchenware at MSU come from during the early years of the school? As it was not economical to purchase dinnerware sets in the same way families purchased dishes for their home, the college most likely turned to catalogue companies, the Costco of …
Avid readers of the CAP blog might remember our excitement last year when we discovered a piece of yellow-green vaseline glass in the Gunson assemblage. The glass glowed bright green under black light, indicating it contained uranium. This week as we continued to sort through …
Hot Weather and New finds.
This past week has had the most unbearable weather so far, but overall, the learning process at CAP 2017 Field School is still continuing! Although I probably differ from my peers, I find that the most difficult thing about this project is not dealing with the weather and the environment, but learning new processes, such as mapping, can be the most time-consuming. However, once the process is learned, future applications of that process tends to be done smoothly and more quickly.
As my “squadmate”, Kaleigh Perry, noted in her most recent blog, much of our time at the end of last week and this week has been spent excavating the Field School’s first feature, Fea 1A. We are almost done with that and we will then move onto the next layer. Oh joy! A quick summary of the feature is that it contains a gigantic amount of cultural deposits, such as coal and nails, and the high frequency of roots that pass the feature could indicate that the deposit was filled in slowly and naturally over time.
Knob and Tube Wiring
However, besides talking about the current state of the field school, I also wanted to discuss one of our more notable finds, which was the ceramic tube found in our unit’s first layer. Knob and tube wiring was used in “old school” electrical wiring in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but more specifically, the tubes were used to pass wires safely though beams, such as wood, to avoid electrical and thermal damage to the surroundings (Myers 2010).
At the digestion of this sweet and tasty (and very simple) knowledge, most people may think, “Cool. You found a nasty old ceramic tube used in outdated electrical wiring.” Although they are partially right, they would be missing the real meat of the knowledge sandwich, which is that you can use the ceramic tube to date an area! Ceramic tubes followed specific styles of their time, and not only that, but they also contained makers’ marks as well, both of which can be cross-referenced to give an idea as to what time period the tube, and potentially, a building, came from (Myers 2010).
And this, right here, what I just told you about dating, is one of the reasons why archaeology and anthropology is so important. Everyday items used by populations in the past can provide us with a massive insight as to what those people were doing and also when they were doing it. Thousands of years into the future, future societies could be able to date areas or buildings by which iteration of an Apple I-phones are in an area. So, the same dating processes that work in the past and present will always stand the passage of time, and will always aid archaeologist in uncovering what shenanigans people in the past were engaged in.
Author: Josh Eads
Adrian Myers. “Telling Time for the Electrified: An Introduction to Porcelain Insulators and the Electrification of the American Home” Society for Historical Archaeology Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology 5 (2010): 31-42.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/adrianmyers/4
Whenever we at CAP come across an interesting artifact, it sparks the inevitable, if inelegant question, “what was this thing doing on our campus?” It’s a simple question, but I’ve often found as I delve into researching an artifact that the journey of that object …
On university campuses, all sorts of different items are present. One type of item that is commonly found but under-utilized are industrial ceramics. Also known as hotel wares, hotel china, or restaurant china, these ceramics are designed to be extremely tough and cheap, perfect for …
As every archaeologist knows for every hour you spend in the field, you can expect to spend 4 hours in the lab. This has proven true for our recent field school excavations. A fruitful 5 week field school this past summer has left us with hours and hours of lab work. Our steadfast team of undergrad volunteers has been chugging along since September and we’ve finally put a dent in the artifact cataloging, yay! Now that we’re beginning to understand our vast array of artifacts, we can start to analyze patterns and research artifact types.
One of the most common pottery types we found during our excavations of the Gunson site was green striped Onondaga Pottery Company Syracuse China. The company was initially founded as Farrar Pottery 1841, and changed hands a number of times until it became the Onondaga Pottery Company in 1871. Located in Geddes New York, Onondaga was named after Onondaga county, where it was located.
Onondaga Pottery Company quickly built a reputation for having high quality earthenware. Later, their shift to semi-vitreous China made them a nationally renowned pottery company. Their non-crackle guarantee (during this time the glaze on most American made pottery would crack, leaving marks across the product) made them the first pottery company in the US to carry such a warranty.
In 1884, the Onondaga Pottery Company teamed with Elmer Walter, who had a China decorating factory directly across the street from Onondaga Pottery. Before this partnership Onondaga produced only plain white China. Later, when Elmer’s factory was destroyed by fire, Onondaga hired Elmer and created an in-house pottery decorating department, one of the first of its kind.
The biggest turn for the company came in 1884 when James Pass became the company’s superintendent. James Pass, the son of Richard Pass the previous superintendent, grew up studying pottery. James studied analytical chemistry at Syracuse University in order to understand and overcome the problems in pottery manufacturing. When James became superintendent he developed America’s first truly vitreous china, known as Syracuse China.
The development of Syracuse China made the Onondaga Company what it is today. The company did not officially change its name until the 1960s, it quickly became known as Syracuse China because of the product’s popularity. The company found an intense market for Syracuse China in places like hotels, restaurants, and railroad companies. Onondaga’s 1896 chip resistant technology only enhanced its popularity in these markets.
Taking the history of the Onondaga Pottery Company a.k. Syracuse China, into consideration it’s easy to understand why we discovered so much of this pottery in the refuse pit on MSU’s campus. This high-quality, durable, china would have been ideal for a college campus. Dinner ware that can hold up to the trauma inflicted by college students and visitors is well worth its weight in gold. With regards to the Gunson house, it may have served as more everyday serving ware as we also have Onondaga Pottery Company ceramic fragments that are not the three green stripes. These examples are more delicate and detailed, with embossing and scalloping although we have yet to find a fragment with a date stamp.
Author: Kate Frederick
My project involves examining where, what company, and the timeframe the different marker’s mark, collecting from the excavation from the Admin/Gunson site, came from. As we wrapped up with Unit A on Monday, I finished taking and collecting pictures of the marker’s mark found from …