MSU Campus Archaeology Receives 2017 Michigan Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation

Members of the Michigan Legislature present Dan Bollman (MSU Infrastructure Planning & Facilities), Jodie O'Gorman (MSU Dept. of Anthropology), and Lynne Goldstein ( CAP Director) with the award.

Members of the Michigan Legislature present Dan Bollman (MSU Infrastructure Planning & Facilities), Jodie O’Gorman (MSU Dept. of Anthropology), and Lynne Goldstein ( CAP Director) with the award.

On Tuesday, May 2nd, MSU’s Department of Anthropology, Department of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, and the Office of the President received the Michigan Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation and a special tribute from the State of Michigan Legislature on behalf of MSU Campus Archaeology. The award was given for their combined efforts to preserve the cultural resources found on Michigan State University’s campus. This award, sponsored by Michigan’s State Historic Preservation Office and State Historic Preservation Review Board, recognizes individuals, companies, and institutions that strive to protect, preserve, and study the many historic resources within the state of Michigan (For a complete list of those who received the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation this year, click here).

Poster highlighting CAP's work on display at the award ceremony.

Poster highlighting CAP’s work on display at the award ceremony.

Since 2005, MSU’s Campus Archaeology Program has worked to excavate and recover the material remains of MSU’s history, as well as the history of those who lived here prior to the university.  Combining salvage archaeology, field schools, and archival research, CAP has contributed greatly to our understanding of MSU’s past, while also training numerous students in archaeological methods and the importance of cultural resource management and preservation. Not only focused on excavation and research, CAP also works to communicate this history and the importance of archaeology to members of the community through outreach events like MSU’s Science Festival, MSU Grandparents University, the CAP MSU Haunted Campus tour, and participation in other local events. As Governor Snyder reminds us, these preservation and research efforts have impacts beyond just the MSU community, contributing to “our sense of place, and our identity as Michiganders.”

Special Tribute from State of Michigan

Special Tribute from State of Michigan

2017 Governor's Award for Historic Preservation

2017 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the future, Campus Archaeology will continue to work toward preserving and understanding the history of our small slice of the state of Michigan, despite a political climate that is increasingly antagonistic toward cultural and natural resource management and preservation. Preservation, when done properly, helps to build a stronger sense of self and identity for neighborhoods, regions, and even nations, which can act as guiding principles for future action. The preservation of buildings and archaeological sites also provides stark physical reminders of who we are, where we came from, and what we strive to become in the future.  They remind us of how much we have achieved, but also how far we have left to go. Further, monuments and other preserved sites allow us to interact with and experience our heritage, or the heritage of others, in a way that cannot be reproduced through other means. Beyond this cultural and social value, preservation efforts also generate economic opportunities by creating jobs, increasing tourism, increasing property values, and attracting businesses who want to benefit from this improved traffic. Most importantly, these resources are non-renewable; they cannot be reclaimed once they are gone, so we must work to preserve them now before they are lost forever. We congratulate all of the current and previous winners of the Michigan Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation for their great work, and we hope they continue this work far into the future.

The CAP Summer Season So Far

The summer field season has started out pretty busy this year. During our first day of monitoring the fourth phase of the North Campus Infrastructure Improvements, we received a call from Granger regarding some bricks that were found by the Museum. They were beginning to open up a large pit to remove and replace a steam tunnel junction underneath the Museum’s West Circle parking lot. The bricks were covered by a layer of concrete and remained insitu, mortar and all. Nearby this feature we found a large amount of concrete, brick, stone, and metal rubble. We did a quick rescue to record and learn what we could from the find as it had to be removed to progress the steam replacement.

Remaining foundation of Williams Hall

Remaining foundation of Williams Hall

I spent some time before construction began making some maps of the affected area using overlays with historic maps of the area and the locations of current buildings, sidewalks, and roads. Based on the maps I made, we are pretty sure the wall and rubble we found near the Museum was part of Williams Hall, which burned down in 1919.

Map overlay with 1915 buildings

Map overlay with 1915 buildings

Following the Williams Hall discovery, we continued to monitor by the Museum as well as the pulling up of the parking lot in front of and the sidewalks around Olds Hall. We also dug some test pits in the green space to the east of Olds Hall as well as underneath the parking lot located between Olds Hall and the Main Library. Neither of the surveys revealed anything of concern, although we began finding brick, cement, glass, nails, and other metal underneath the sidewalks around Olds Hall.

A couple of days following the Williams Hall discovery, a series of bricks that looked like a corner was found while we were digging shovel test pits underneath some of the sidewalks by Olds Hall. We opened the area up a bit and realized that the bricks were still arranged like a wall with an ash-heavy soil on one side that was full of nails, metal, and glass. There was also a large amount of loose bricks, mortared-stone, and cement around the wall. We dug down on the other side to find that after a few courses, the bricks stop at a layer of cement that continued into the bottom of our unit. We also chased the wall to either end until we found where the bricks stopped. After cleaning up and documenting, as well as consulting the maps I made, we believe it was a wall from the old engineering shops that burned down with the original engineering building.

We started the second week of the summer off right with some grilled cheeses from the MSU Dairy Store! We are currently working in the lab to finish up accessioning and cataloging artifacts from last summer and those we have from this summer so far. We are also continuing to monitor the steam tunnel construction and will keep you posted of any further developments!

CAP at the Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values Conference

This May, the Campus Archaeology fellows will be presenting our research projects at the interdisciplinary Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Values conference held at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The goal of this conference is to bring together scholars from multiple fields in order to discuss a variety of relating themes regarding issues of social justice and power, authenticity and integrity, tangible and intangible heritage, and sustainability in cultural landscape management.

Our symposium focuses mostly on the latter themes and is titled “Universities as Examples of Cultural Heritage Planning, Understanding Landscapes, and Being Sustainable.” The papers given will discuss the major research projects that CAP has recently worked on. Much of this research has been featured in various blog posts, but these papers will offer a much more broader view on each topic. This first paper describes how Michigan State has integrated sustainable food practices throughout its history through the examination of food production and choices over the course of MSU’s history. Women on campus are also related to changing landscapes through the creation of gendered spaces and the creation of a predictive model. Concepts of authenticity are employed in regards to the “sacred space” on campus and the perceived views of the undisturbed space. And finally, the prehistoric past on campus is explored and how this has shaped further historical developments on campus. All of these presentations will demonstrate how archaeology can benefit and enhance archival materials to help understand our historic past. They also demonstrate the impact and importance of Campus Archaeology to Michigan State University.

As this is not a typical archaeological conference, this will give us an opportunity to interact with scholars from other fields. It will allow us to demonstrate our broad impact on cultural heritage to a wide audience and gain insights on how it is approached and managed in other disciplines. We are also proud to announce that the Heritage Values Interest Group of the Society of American Archaeology has sponsored our session, which is a great honor.

Listed below are the titles of our papers and our abstracts, starting with our symposium abstract:

Universities as Examples of Cultural Heritage Planning, Understanding Landscapes, and Being Sustainable

Organizer: Lynne Goldstein

Land Grant institutions in the U.S. represent places that were originally oriented to educating and training farmers, but even in their growth and expansion, have always been places of reform and experimentation. In that context, this symposium looks at landscape, cultural heritage, planning, and sustainability of one of the pioneer land grant colleges: Michigan State University (MSU). In particular, we use the lens of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) to demonstrate how archaeology can contribute to current conversations on major issues of today. CAP uses the past to make the University better stewards, but also to experiment with new approaches, integrate archaeology into planning and training, and bring students and the broader public into discussion of larger issues of heritage and sustainability. Each paper in this session represents one of Campus Archaeology’s major projects.

Created Landscapes, Managing Heritage, Being Sustainable, and Learning from the Past: A Land Grant University and Its Campus Archaeology Program

Lynne Goldstein

The Michigan State University (MSU) Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) has existed for fewer than 10 years, and although we conduct archaeological work prior to University construction, we do much more. We have convinced MSU that it needs to be better stewards of its past, and the University has agreed. We do archaeology prior to ANY campus construction, whether it is a new building or planting a new bush. In addition to acting as stewards of the campus’ past, we focus on training students, engaging the broader community in the importance of the past to the present, and conducting independent research on the past. In 2014, we realized that although we had been well integrated into the university infrastructure system, we were not being included in the planning process. I offered an intensive class on Cultural Heritage Planning, and as a group we drafted a cultural heritage plan for the campus. The possibility of our success was realized when the Planning Office agreed to consider integration of our plan into the new University Master Plan. This paper outlines the process of this planning and some possible broader implications.

How the Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program Has Examined Sustainability Through Time.

Nicole Geske, Lisa Bright, and Amy Michael

The role of universities in sustainability and cultural landscape management has largely been ignored. However, sustainability can often be studied more effectively at the university level, where there is a microcosm of greater society and its issues. To examine these questions, archival records and archaeology can be used to identify sustainable practices throughout the past using accepted benchmarks of energy, food, and transportation. To demonstrate the utility of this approach, we focus on sustainability of food systems at MSU through time.

As a land grant institution with a focus on agriculture, MSU incorporated food systems into the physical and cultural landscape since its inception. Sustainability in food practices was a large part of this effort, as it was required in order to maintain the campus. This self-reliance on food continued until the student population and surrounding community expanded to the point where it was no longer practical to be the sole producer of food. This change also mirrored larger societal trends where artificial and canned foods became preferred to those grown on campus. The University’s long tradition of food system sustainability allows the connection of historic data to modern trends creating holistic views of changing landscapes.

Understanding and Predicting Gendered Space on the Historic Campus at Michigan State University

Amy Michael and Josh Burbank

Although women were present on the historic campus, they were essentially an appendage to a male-dominated landscape focused on agricultural education. Females were officially admitted by 1870, though geographic isolation and lack of dormitory space ensured that enrollment was low until 1896 when the Home Economics course was created. Historical records demonstrate that during 1900-1925 there was a rapid rise in visibility of female students. Cultural norms of the time were at odds with these “co-eds,” as women were absent from home and pursuing education independently. Writings from memoirs and literary clubs illustrate tensions between the university and females as the administration enacted rules to maintain order on the increasingly integrated campus. Student council records reflect the desires of women to govern themselves, while journals detailed the gendered constraint felt academically and spatially.

We explore questions related to the building, maintaining, and fissioning of gendered space on the historic campus during 1900-1925. Further, archaeological correlates and material culture linked to changing gender roles and expectations will be explored. The combined archival/archaeological approach will allow for the creation of a predictive model of a historic gendered landscape that can inform future excavations by the Campus Archaeology Program.

What Does it Mean to be Sacred? Campus Archaeology, Authenticity and the Sacred Space of MSU

Katy Meyers Emery

Michigan State University’s campus began as a small grouping of buildings within an oak opening, and since the 1870s, when the College President decreed that no further construction was allowed within this central wooded area, it has been known as the “sacred space”. The Campus Archaeology Program has worked diligently since 2005 to investigate and protect the archaeological integrity of this historic portion of campus, and much of our work has been located within this ‘sacred space’. The ‘sacred space’ is perceived as the last historic and authentic feature of MSU’s campus, which has led to the it being discussed as a static preserved landscape- a perception that we too as the archaeologists on campus have perpetuated to some extent. However, despite being ‘sacred’, construction and reconstruction of the space has continued at a steady pace throughout the over 150 years of campus life. This paper investigates the manner in which the ‘sacred space’ has been treated and perceived in the past and today, the authenticity of its modern description and perception, and how we as archaeologists promote the protection and integrity of the space, while also addressing the changes of this living landscape, both the tangible and intangible.

Reading between the Lines: How MSU Campus Archaeology Evaluates the Past

Blair Zaid and Kate Frederick

This paper investigates both the tangible and intangible heritage of Michigan State University’s campus. The priority of historical heritage at MSU creates a silence of the multiple influences of the development of the campus, specifically the ‘Sacred Space.’ The ‘Sacred Space’ a designated area in the oldest part of campus now set aside for its aesthetic charms, has evidence for a prehistoric site dating to 3000 B.P. This paper posits that prehistoric and early historic land use by Native American populations over time influenced how the ‘Sacred Space’ was formed during the construction and protection of the space.  Using archaeological, geological, historical, and ethnohistorical information, this paper aims to interpret elements of the prehistoric landscape to better understand the multiple influences that helped shape the ‘Sacred Space.’ This project will ultimately help the MSU Campus Archaeology Program construct a Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the University and ‘unsilence’ the overlooked contributions of prehistoric Native American populations to the changing landscape of MSU.

My 3D artifact Odyssey: Introduction to MSU LEADR

Last semester I began a quest to create 3D renditions of some of our artifacts and display them ever so eloquently on the CAP website. As mentioned in my previous posts, I used 123D Catch, a free photogrammetry application that can be used right on your smartphone. My first couple attempts were mildly successful but for some reason, my last several attempts at creating 3D images were a #fail. So I decided to investigate the bountiful resources that MSU has to offer and everyone pointed me to LEADR, or the Lab for the Education and Advancement in Digital Research.

LEADR, located on the first floor of Old Horticulture , is a recent addition to campus and seeks to help students create digital and web based products for their research. With a long list of equipment, personnel, and resources, this is the perfect place to design innovative and dynamic elements for digital representations of your work.   LEADR is focused on the fields that are typically slow to develop digitally competency such as History and Anthropology.  LEADR then, isn’t just focused on the product, but helping you learn the technology as well as the significance of digital humanities. So someone like me can go in there with my vision of the final product and they can teach me how to achieve it

So, last week I took my less-than-stellar 3D renditions to LEADR and they helped me develop a plan to construct relevant 3D models that can be viewed on the CAP website. Their first piece of advice was to re-scan the artifacts with their lab equipment. They suggested that while 123D Catch is pretty practical and useful, it may not be able to obtain the detail that I am looking for. Also, the editing available through 123D Catch may be a bit clunky for my novice hands and that LEADR software was a bit more user friendly. 

Another feature of LEADR is that some of their equipment is available for checkout! I am particularly interested in the hand held 3D scanner that will allow me to scan larger objects in the CAP lab. This hopefully will produce better quality images than the ones I took with my smartphone.

Lastly, one of the best features of LEADR is that they actually print 3D renditions at low or no cost to students! Now Kate and I plan to print 3D renditions of our projectile points for me to take to our UMASS Cultural Landscapes and Digital Values conference presentation. This will make a great addition to our discussion on pre-historic land use and cultural heritage on campus.

Well, hopefully this short post informed you of yet another resource on campus as well as another way to incorporate digital archaeology and now 3D printing into your work. I can’t wait to post about the next installment on this Odyssey of 3D images and archaeological research!

The Importance of Cultural Heritage

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Thankfully MSU students typically have no trouble finding something green to wear today.

In the past week, the intentional destruction of archaeology sites and materials by ISIS has been making headlines. If you’re not familiar with the situation an excellent summary can be found on CNN. This brazen disrespect for cultural heritage resonated across the archaeological community. In an interview on NPR Iraqi archaeologist Abdulamir al-Hamdani described the destruction from an archaeologists viewing, “… seeing heritage of Iraq being looted. It’s not only Iraq’s heritage, it’s the heritage of the world. It’s the memory of the humankind”(source). UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova declared, “the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime”(source).

This issue, and the subsequent online discussion, got me thinking about the importance of the work we do at campus archaeology. Each community, be it as large as a county or as small as a university campus, contains a distinctive cultural heritage. Campus archaeology works to mitigate and protect the archaeological resources on MSU’s campus. The physical remains of this legacy needs to be maintained not just for the present population of students and staff, but also for past and future Spartans. The material culture we examine on campus represents much more than the physical objects to MSU culture.

Today, there are over 532,000 living MSU alumni worldwide (source). Over half a million people share the experience of attending MSU. The work done here, and else where to protect cultural heritage is important to maintain cultural memories. And although historic ceramics, or documenting the remains of an old are clearly different than the endangered objects in Iraq, the impetus behind protecting the resources is the same.

It was recognized that we needed a campus archaeology program because it’s important to MSU as a larger culture to preserve the past to protect the future. Even though Iraq isn’t directly a part of many of our heritages, we can recognize that its part of our larger heritage as humans… the same as MSU.

Adventures at the MI State Historic Preservation Office

The identification and protection of cultural resources at the state level is crucial for managing prehistoric and historic heritage across the nation. Each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands has a State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), that oversees the analysis and identification of cultural resources  and is a great place to start if you are interested in archaeology within your state. In Michigan, the SHPO is located in the Michigan Historical Center and the State Archaeologist at the  SHPO is Dr. Dean Anderson.

I decided to go to the MI SHPO to look into archaeological sites around campus, particularly those that may be associated with prehistoric sites. I met with Jessica Yann, a fellow MSU anthropology graduate student and the Archaeology Student Assistant for the SHPO. This was my first time at SHPO and Jessica was very helpful with letting me know who uses SHPO, what they do, and what they are most likely to have.

For example, in addition to graduate students, the MI SHPO welcomes Cultural Resource Management (CRM) companies,  Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) archaeologists, public archaeologists, university affiliates throughout the state, Tribal Historic Resource Offices or THPOs, as well as the public. For the most part, people who go to SHPO are interested in finding out more about public lands or previous archaeological work in the state. They also go for private research or simple curiosity about the land around us.

The MI SHPO holds several types of collections. For example, they curate items found on state land, items found in Section 106 Projects that use federal funding, items found by amateur or public archaeologists as well as materials from ship wrecks throughout the Great Lakes. The SHPO also has a complete set of the MI Archaeology Journals and the Hinsdale atlas, a list of all known site locations observed in 1931. Overall, it is just a perfect place for anyone to start if they are concerned with archaeology in the Mitten. One problem that I had is that there is so much information in the collections, that it is easy to get distracted by other ideas, such as the presence or myths of a cluster of mounds around Lake Lansing. You must exercise great discipline while exploring  SHPO or you could find yourself with too many projects!

When I arrived for my appointment, Jessica already accessed the quad maps for MSU campus. These maps are a part of a large set of maps that SHPO uses to keep a record of all surveys, excavations, and finds throughout the state. We then pulled the maps from the near by quads for  Williamston and Lansing so that we could get a wider view of potentially relevant sites. From these maps, we identified sites that may have pre-historic relevance for which Jessica then collected the digital information. As it turns out, there have been a few surveys of prehistoric sites, mostly organized by Dr. Lovis. With this brief survey of previous work I then met with Kate and Dr. Lovis to discuss our potential next steps. This project has been really interesting to me as I am learning about local archaeology and the nature of archaic and prehistoric sites. For our next phase, we will go back to the literature and determine what we can actually say about the archaic presences on MSU’s campus.

So for all of you out there that have an interest in archaeology in your local community, I suggests you go to your state SHPO. The abundance of resources and exciting people will definitely set you on your way!

Cultural Heritage Management: what is it?

For the past few weeks, I have been scouring the internet and pouring through books and articles trying to get an idea of what constitutes cultural heritage management, cultural heritage planning, and how archaeology is integrated into this process.  It’s a concept which is relatively obscure to many archaeologists trained in North America.  For myself, cultural heritage management and archaeology didn’t seem to integrate given the nature of where I work.  The dynastic Egyptian culture, or more to the point in my own work, the Predynastic Egyptian culture, does not exist anymore, and has not for thousands of years.  This does not mean that the current people of Egypt feel no connection to the ancient past, but the culture of modern Egypt is not contiguous with that of ancient Egypt.  Pantheons of gods are not worshiped at monumental temples, hieratic is no longer the common script, social behaviors have changed, and Pharaoh no longer rules the masses.  Integrating archaeology into a cultural heritage plan for a place like Egypt, unless it applies to excavation of Muslim-era sites, has a bit of a disconnect.

Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.  Understanding what constitutes “cultural heritage management” is of primary importance.  While it is defined slightly differently depending on the group putting the concept into action, generally speaking, cultural heritage management strives to preserve the heritage of cultural groups while integrating this rich heritage into a contemporary context and allowing for future growth.  For archaeologists, this means incorporating oral histories, present cultural practices, historical archives information and the archaeological remains of past cultural practices in concert and cooperation with those of a specific cultural descent.  Heritage is being preserved, both at a more contemporary, cultural level, as well as at an archaeological level.  An important question which arises (specifically for archaeologists) is: in working with cultural groups to preserve archaeological heritage, what is culturally significant to the collective?  The entire aim is to preserve cultural heritage, and the input of the group whose heritage is being managed/preserved is very important.

Cultural heritage management/planning is a very integrated, nuanced and complex process.  It is not reactionary, as so much archaeology can be.  In many cases, a plan is created to address the material culture of the archaeological record as it appears during excavation.  Based on prior knowledge from oral histories, archival studies, past excavations, and input from living cultural descendants,  archaeologists can plan for specific outcomes of excavation even before beginning.  They will know what is culturally significant, how it fits into the history of the descendant group, and what to do to preserve that history according to the specifications of living descendants.  It is really quite amazing to think of having the ability to immediately place archaeological material into a broader cultural context based on oral history and living knowledge.

This blog post is really meant to whet your appetite, a teaser trailer, if you will, to learn the intricacies involved in cultural heritage management/planning.  Fascinating, isn’t it?  This summer, the Department of Anthropology in conjunction with the Campus Archaeology Program is offering a course aimed at learning the process of cultural heritage management and planning.  This is a great opportunity to learn about what goes into the complex and fascinating process of cultural heritage management!  Applications for this course are due by Saturday March 15th, so get your applications in now!  It promises to be a very unique and rewarding experience for all involved!