Lets just have a little wrap up of what the site looked like when we left today, what I did this week, and what’s happening next. This week I continued to excavate in Unit D with help from Jerica on Tuesday and Wednesday and Becca …
Tag: field school
After completion of nearly five weeks of the field school, it is finally coming to an end. Since the first day, our work area, the pit, has changed quite a bit. Unit C has come and gone and has been completely filled up with screened dirt, and three more units have popped up near the Station Terrace wall where we have been excavating. The process has truly been something else. For starters, my body aches, my knees hurt, and I’m constantly tired, so this is some pretty tough labor. Secondly, working with other people in the pit is kind of an intimate process. You definitely get to know the people around you to some degree, especially the squadmate in your Unit. It’s an interesting experience. I know that if this wasn’t a class, we would probably go out to a bar or get something to eat, so our time together is coming to an end and hopefully I’ll see my fellow pit buddies throughout my last semester at MSU.
The limitations of starting this project with only six students has also been apparent. I’ve felt the pressure to do my job quickly and accurately to make up for our small group, but and even though the process has been slow, it has also been sweet. The number one thing that I try to keep in mind is that I’m partaking in archaeology’s greatest past-time, digging. My trowel and my body are both acting in tandem to uncover secrets of the past. Sure, I may not be in Egypt or South America, digging in an un-excavated tomb, but I am still traveling through time, learning about what it was like on campus in the late 1800’s.
This is a class, and as such I’ve learned quite a bit. Firstly, I’ve learned to take care of my body. I don’t want my knees to explode and I want to be a healthy old man one day, so now I know I need to stretch and I need to keep weight and tension off of my knees while I work. Secondly, I learned that the feelings of my fellow classmates/workers matters greatly. Having someone or something negatively impact the mentality of a fellow coworker can be disastrous, both for the mindset of the archaeologist and also in regards to how much work can and will be done. Working together, being patient, caring about one another, and understanding where everyone comes from is crucial for the sake of the project and for the sake of the humanity of the people you are around for 7 hours a day.
And the final thing I’ve learned is something that hasn’t necessarily been taught directly. I’ve learned how important archaeology is to history and culture. We would be lost without the understanding of who people were in the past through analysis of their material culture. Even if written documents exist in a particular time period, excavation of artifacts yields such a tremendous amount of knowledge about who people were and what they did that I honestly believe that we would be blind about history without archaeology. I’ll take what I have learned from Anthro and apply it for the rest of my life, and hopefully, if you have read these blogs from these humble students, you have learned something too.
Our last week has certainly been eventful, we have all been working hard to finish up before Friday, while also having a lot of visitors come by to learn more about what we were excavating. Last Wednesday a Vacation Bible School group came to learn about …
After our nail layer we were not finding much besides mortar and a few screws until we found something sticking out of our west wall. We can tell that it is a bone, but until we are finished with out unit we have to leave it be, although I’m not sure how we will decide who gets to pull it out. There are signs of butchering done to the bone, and because of its size and the cow scapula that was found nearby in Unit D we believe it could also be cow.
Besides the bone we were not finding much else than nails and mortar, until I felt something that felt like scraping concrete while shovel skimming near the southeast corner. After getting a better look with the use of a trowel, we knew that we were looking at a small foundation or wall of some kind that was running along our south wall, but it was much different in material and size than the other walls found in Units A and D. It also seems to be slightly off from true cardinal directions much like how the other wall is, although it is deeper. Until we get down deeper we will be unable to determine what it is exactly, and we are hoping the new Unit E (courtesy of CAP grad students and interns) could help us to figure out if the walls connect or what their relation were to each other.
Around the same depth as the wall we did notice a layer of gravel that was found mostly on the western side, which could have been used as a kind of filler or pathway around the time the wall or foundation was built. When looking at the west wall near the northwest corner you can see the gravel line in the stratigraphy, it is very uneven so we are still not sure if it is natural or man-made. If it is man-made then perhaps it will show up again in Unit E, which shares balk our unit.
Starting above the wall were 2 roots that were as thick as an arm coming out of the southwest corner running in different directions throughout our unit. One came out of the west wall, dropped down to the depth with the wall, running alongside it into the east wall. The other one also came out of the west wall near the same spot, but ran down and through the middle of our unit, spreading in multiple directions into the north and east walls. Most of the roots were removed in pieces as we would get down deep enough to remove another piece. The roots we cut turn an odd green color, we only have guesses as to what it is or if it’s related to the disease that caused the tree’s removal. Under where a root was we also found a piece of brick near the center of our unit that leads us to believe that there is still more below for us to find.
Last week, we dealt with horrible humidity and soaring temperatures. This week, we start off strong with a new weather predicament: heavy rain. During the weekend, the East Lansing area experienced some decent downfall. The result of this was a nice-sized swimming pool in our …
Earlier this week, Josh Eads and I concluded our work on Feature 1 and began working on the third level of our unit, which required us to remove 10 centimeters of soil from the floor of the unit. While shovel skimming along our western wall, I struck a hard object. Thinking I had come across another one of the annoyingly plentiful tree roots or large rocks in our unit, I forced my shovel forward in an attempt to slice through the object. Unfortunately, I succeeded and ended up knocking a few sherds of glass off a hidden object. After collecting all of the glass sherds, some of which were no larger than the tip of my thumb nail, I began pawing around in the soil to find the object I had struck. After a few seconds, I pulled a mostly complete bottle base out of the ground.
As can be seen from the two images, the base itself is relatively complete, except for a piece I accidentally managed to break off when I unknowingly struck it with my shovel. Additionally, unlike the Diamond Ink Co. bottle I found a couple of weeks ago, this bottle still had a portion of the body attached. The words “Pint Full Measure” stamped into the body indicate this bottle used to contain liquor. After a fair amount of research on the serif-B maker’s mark on the bottom of the base, I have been able to determine that this bottle was produced by the Charles Boldt Glass Co.
The Charles Boldt Glass Co. was born in 1900 when the Muncie Glass Co., headed by Charles Boldt, purchased the Nelson Glass Co. Boldt’s new namesake company remained in operation until 1919. During its peak, the company had factories at four different locations: Muncie, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; and Huntington, West Virginia. Not much is known about the factories in Louisville or Huntington, but the factory in Muncie mostly produced Mason fruit jars, milk bottles, and other food package ware, while the factory in Cincinnati mostly produced liquor bottles and flasks. In 1910, Boldt obtained a license to manufacture his liquor bottles using automatic machines from the Owens Bottle Co., another large Ohio-based glass company. The bottle I found was most likely produced by one of these machines. Even though we are missing the portion of the bottle body that normally exhibits the tell-tale clamp scar of an Owens machine, the general shape of the base, as well as the circular seam pattern present, coincide with complete Boldt bottles that are known to have been made with these machines. After obtaining his license from Owens, Boldt dramatically increased his manufacture of liquor bottles, and the Cincinnati plant became Boldt’s most productive factory until the onset of Prohibition in 1919. Over the next few years, Owens Bottle Co. purchased most of the stock in Boldt’s company, and by 1926, had completely purchased the organization. Today, the company is known as the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, and is based in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Whereas I am ecstatic about unearthing a more complete bottle, this discovery has served as an important lesson for me: If I strike an object while shovel skimming, I better check to see what it is before I make an attempt at forcing my shovel forward. I’m just thankful that this was not a complete bottle to begin with, and that the damage done was not too severe. From now on, I plan to be extra careful while I shovel skim.
Lockhart, Bill. “Owens-Illinios Glass Company.” Society for Historical Archaeology, https://sha.org/resources/newsletter-articles/owens-illinois-glass-company/. Accessed 17 June 2017.
Lockhart, Bill, Pete Schulz, Carol Serr, and Bill Lindsay. “The Dating Game: The Distinctive Marks of the Charles Boldt Glass Co.” Bottles and Extras, Mar. – April 2007, pp. 2-6, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/BoldtGlassCo_BLockhart.pdf. Accessed 16 June 2017.
Schulz, Pete, Bill Lockhart, Carol Serr, Bill Lindsay, Beau Schreiver, and David Whitten. “Charles Boldt Glass Co.” Society for Historical Archaeology, 3 May 2014, https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/CharlesBoldt.pdf. Accessed 16 June 2017.
Poor’s Manual of Industries. Vol. 7, New York, Poor’s Manual Company, 1916. Accessed 16 June 2017.