Tag: fieldwork

Update on the MSU Sugar House Project: Fieldwork has Begun!

Update on the MSU Sugar House Project: Fieldwork has Begun!

After receiving permission to conduct field work in the Sanford Woodlot, Jack and I (along with Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter) were able to start mapping and surveying the remains of the MSU sugar house. While our work was impacted by snow and falling leaves, we […]

CAP Update

CAP Update

Happy 2019! The spring semester has started at Michigan State University and that means that the Campus Archaeology Program is back in action, preparing for all of the events and projects for the spring and summer! Below is an update on the projects we will […]

MSU at the Midwest Archaeological Conference

MSU at the Midwest Archaeological Conference

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, october 5

9 am – 12:15 pm Symposium
Storing Culture: Subterranean Storage in the Upper Midwest (Auditorium)

9:15 am – Now and Later: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Hunter-Gatherer Food Storage Practices by Kathryn Frederick (former Campus Archaeologist)
12 pm – Discussant, Dr. William Lovis

10 am – 12 pm General Poster Session
Reports from the Field (Room 210-214)

Archaeology along the Banks of the Red Cedar: Summary of 2018 Riverbank Survey by Jeffrey M. Painter, Autumn M. Painter, and Jack A. Biggs (Campus Archaeology Program)

1:30 pm – 4:30 pm General Poster Session
Materials and Methods (Room 210-214)

Historic Cuisine on the Go: A Campus Archaeology Program and MSU Food Truck Collaboration by Autumn M. Painter and Susan M. Kooiman (Campus Archaeology Program)

Saturday, october 6

9 am -11:45 am General Session
Middle Mississippian to Late Prehistoric Lifeways (Auditorium)

11:30 am – A Revised History of the Late Precontact and Historic Era Occupations of the Cloudman Site by Susan M. Kooiman and Heather Walder

1:30 pm – 4 pm General Session
Landscape, Settlements, and Their Detection (Room 100-104)

3:45 pm – Trade Relationships of 18th-Century Ottawa along the Grand River, Michigan by Jessica Yann

 

Summer Fieldwork Catch-up

Summer Fieldwork Catch-up

I’ll admit it, this post is a little late in the making. I’ve been trying to play catch-up from the last couple of days of summer survey that left us with a ton of artifacts, and even more questions. I, and the CAP crew, spent […]

Auditorium Plaza Debrief

Auditorium Plaza Debrief

Recently, a construction project began in the small plaza between the MSU Auditorium and the Kresge Art Center, which meant that we Campus Archaeologists got to go in first and see what (if any) historic materials were hidden beneath the topsoil. The plaza is an […]

Cisterns: MSU’s History of Water

Cisterns: MSU’s History of Water

Earlier this week, a group of construction workers excavating trenches for the new campus steam tunnel network came across a circular brick enclosure on the south side of Cook Hall. Returning their call, we went to the site and exposed the circle of bricks to find that there was a large metal drum embedded within. Taken with the metal pipes connecting the inner metal drum to the foundation of the building, the feature appeared to be a cistern from the early days of campus. While there was little more we could do other than document and photograph the cistern, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to explore the history of cisterns on and off campus.

Ian taking measurements on the water cistern.
Ian taking measurements on the water cistern.

Constructed as far back as the early fourth millennium (4000’s) BCE in Near Eastern countries such as Isreal, Jordan, and Lebanon, the technology and design of cisterns has gone relatively unchanged since its inception. Whether found as below-ground chambers or above-ground reservoirs, every cistern is fundamentally a water-tight basin that collects rain or well water for long-term storage. Early cisterns took the form of small plaster-lined dugouts underneath one’s house that would collect rainwater for daily needs, whereas later (early modern and modern) cisterns are commonly characterized by large semi-buried or above-ground concrete structures in order to provide natural water pressure to an indoor faucet.

In the case of the campus cisterns such as the one discovered near Cook hall, they were often large metal drums that would connect to a faucet in the basement of the building. In so doing, each building on campus maintained an independent water supply throughout the mid to late 1800s prior to the construction of the campus water-pipe network. According to university archives these were largely open top metal drums that were placed within a deep pit adjacent to each building and surrounded with a layer of brick or stone to help preserve the integrity of the structure. The semi-buried, open top design however allowed rainwater as well as other refuse to continually fill the drum, eventually resulting in the university ordering metal caps for each one of the cisterns in an attempt to better preserve the quality of the water. Additionally, pump handles were added to each of the cisterns in order to allow continual filling from the various wells that had begun to be constructed throughout campus, as well as to offer an additional faucet from which to draw water.

Water cistern found on the south side of Cook Hall
Water cistern found on the south side of Cook Hall

Due to the gradual expansion of campus throughout the later years of the 19th century, the increasing water demands and disproportionate expense of improving the cistern infrastructure (records of board minutes from 1900 discuss the great expense of $25,000 needed to provide residents on the second story of the Howard Terrace building with water to their floor) necessitated the introduction of a campus wide water-main and fire hydrants system that shortly made the cisterns obsolete, though they are undoubtedly a part of our campus history to this day.

Safety First

Safety First

While digging the newly recovered structure by Ag Hall last week, we came across an old pipe that was covered in a fabric material. We were immediately concerned that this material was asbestos. Even though we were on a tight time crunch (the construction companies […]

Foundation Beneath our Feet: Uncovering the Old Vet Building

Foundation Beneath our Feet: Uncovering the Old Vet Building

By Josh Schnell, Erica Dziedzic, and Kate Frederick We began this CAP excavation season with an exciting find; on the first day of monitoring the construction work near Agriculture Hall revealed an old foundation! The layer was only about a foot thick and covered with […]

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

By Blair Zaid

The roles for women in the academy are ever expanding. We continue to achieve high levels positions in institutions that have been exceptionally male dominated.  However, one role continues to be a bit daunting for women in the academy and particularly archaeology: the role of mother. The combination of archaeology and motherhood raise important issues on the path to academic success. Few fields are as physically demanding and require such “on the ground” living experiences that can rightfully intimidate a childbearing woman. Also, the extended time in the field affects all of us, but it does have a significant impact on even the most basic childcare recommendations such as breastfeeding and vaccination schedules. So given the complexities of the concerns on a field full of intelligent and capable women, why are we so silent about our maternal experiences?

Motherhood in archaeology is like any excavation, scratch beyond the surface and there are many sources of inspiration! In, 2008 SAA published their latest special edition issue examining the status of women in archaeology and our departments very own Dr. O’Gorman and Dr. Norder contribute to the conversation (Vol. 8 Num. 4). The articles on childcare and the affects of motherhood on our careers offer great insight but little hope to having a ‘successful’ archaeological career once you become a parent. Nonetheless, when we talk to our advisers they share their stories about climbing ancient monuments 8 months pregnant or rushing to their hooding ceremonies with babies on the way! So luckily we are faced with some very positive examples of mama archaeologists. However the question remains, what are some concrete ways that motherhood affects us?

One experience I shared with a number of my colleagues is what I call “a crash of confidence.” While this is similar and almost a crucial point in graduate education in general, once again there is a special shadow that hovers when a women decides to extend her family during her graduate or pre-tenure phase of work. I have been blessed with a child, and as a first time mother, the experience is both life enhancing and life altering.  In many ways my daughters arrival was perfect, yet she also came smack in the middle of my dual degree graduate program and dissertation planning.  I had just survived taking one comprehensive exam while actively planning my wedding.  Pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood have made such normal activities as basic concentration and organization especially difficult, much less reading, processing, and taking notes for research. While some of my insecurities are self inflicted symptoms of an ‘overachiever,’ the academy’s mixed emotions about my path to motherhood was at times less than supportive, especially as a graduate student. At times I considered smaller local projects or even no field work at all. But, I knew that those choices would inhibit my growth as a mother not just an archaeologist.

So, how do you beat this ‘crash of confidence’? We needed to SPEAK UP! Ask for help! The myth of the “how does she do it woman” does more to hurt new mothers than save us. Ask for more time from work, be honest about your levels of exhaustion, and need for child care and health benefits. This puts all our concerns out in the open and then no one is left wondering about or concerns or motives. While speaking up can help us achieve practical support from those around us, we also need to hear the support of other arch-mamas and not just in whispers between meetings. We need spaces to share our triumphs and sorrows and especially a space for us to gather and support each other through the process.

The affects of motherhood on one’s archaeological career are almost immeasurable. The choice to start a family through marriage or expand it with children is often met with sympathy and disappointment, as if making these choices splotches your career. While you may decide to delay your fieldwork, bring your family into international lands, or whatever, the insight motherhood brings is also a strong contribution to our work, even though we only speak about it in the acknowledgements. However, those of us that have the choice and opportunity to have children know that the joys of raising a child come in an endless variety of laughter, pain, and sometimes just plain old silliness. Even as I type this on my laptop a little baby hand reaches out to help press the buttons. As our presence in the field continues to increase, the conversation about the totality of woman’s experiences both in the field and at home, will only enhance our field and the full richness of archaeology.

In conclusion, we know that you really only read this for cute baby pictures so here you go!

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

Archmamas: Archaeology, Motherhood, and Path to PhD

Part II: By Blair Zaid and Erica Dziedzic      The roles for women in the academy are ever expanding. We continue to achieve high levels positions in institutions that have been exceptionally male dominated.  However, one role continues to be a bit daunting for […]