This summer, Cowles House, MSU’s oldest standing building, is due to get a facelift. As part of this remodeling, crews will remove a few trees from around and inside the building and expand the west wing. In preparation for this work, I have been researching…
As all MSU students, professors, and staff know, MSU is continually improving their roads, sidewalks, sporting fields, etc. Each spring through fall, MSU’s campus is scattered with constructions sites with the goal of bettering the physical campus environment. While this activity is very visible, there…
For much of this summer the CAP field crew was busy surveying the area surrounding the East neighborhood (Akers, Fee, Hubbard, Conrad). Beginning in March 2018 Wilson road will be altered, creating an additional exit onto Hagadorn, a traffic light on Shaw, as well as additional parking.
The areas highlighted in green will all be changed/impacted by the construction. CAP had not previously excavated in this area so we were excited to see what was there.
Historically this area was part of the Biebesheimer farm. The Biebesheimer family lived in the Ingham county area since the late 1860s (Adams 1923:379). A majority of the farm was sold to Michigan Agricultural College in 1925. However, the Biebesheimer and Roney (Mary Biebesheimer’s married name was Roney) families retained a portion of the original farm until the 1950’s. During the years the family owned/worked this farm land they uncovered several important prehistoric and contact era archaeological artifacts. The artifacts have been donated to the MSU museum and are housed in the Paul S. Roney collection.
The construction of the river trail neighborhood (McDonel, Owen, Shaw, Van Hoosen) and east neighborhood began in the mid 1960s (although the grouping of these buildings into neighborhoods is a much more recent university initiative). So although these buildings, roads, and parking lots of a much more recent timeframe than the areas of campus we are typically called upon to investigate, it is important to remember that we are also charged with preserving and documenting the entire history of the area. So we set out to determine if anything prior to the campus development remained undisturbed. We were looking for signs of both the farm and prehistoric sites.
So we conducted a survey and excavated shovel test pits along the entire green highlighted area in the above map. A shovel test pit is a hole, typically dug by a shovel, that is roughly 2 times the width of the shovel head with a goal of a 1 meter depth.
The field crew dug 312 shovel test pits for the Wilson road realignment. Unfortunately much of the area was comprised of highly compact soil, resulting in some difficult conditions for the field crew. Additionally, only 90 of the test pits had any cultural material (artifacts). Most of which were recent objects near the top third of the test pit. The most surprising elements were probably the animals the crew encountered.
What these weeks of hard work tell us is that the area is highly disturbed. Any intact deposits are likely much deeper than we could get with the test pits. It’s also important to remember that the absence of artifacts also tells the specific story of that area. Once construction begins in March 2018 we will monitor the parking lot and road demolition, and likely excavate additional test pits once the ground surfaces have been removed.
Adams, Franc L. Pioneer History of Ingham County Volume 1 Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Company: Lansing Michigan. 1923
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…
Meet the summer CAP crew.
As the summer field season begins, I would just like to introduce myself as one of the undergraduate campus archaeologists. I am dual majored in Anthropology and Geography, and am going into my final year here at MSU. While taking summer classes on campus, the CAP program wound up being the perfect fit for me to be able to simultaneously take classes while still being able to stay involved with archaeology (ie. not missing a field season and learning more than I ever thought I could about our campus’ history to boot). Otherwise, I am looking at graduate programs in underwater and Mediterranean archaeology that will ideally land me somewhere off the coast of Southern Europe searching for sunken bronze and iron age shipwrecks in another 4-8 years, but, one step at a time. I have already greatly enjoyed this summer in the field on campus thus far, and look forward to spending the rest of the summer with everyone.
As a recent graduate of MSU, I am happy to say that I will be working with CAP for one last summer before leaving East Lansing. I started working with Campus Archaeology in the summer of 2012 as a volunteer, and the following fall semester I began work as an intern under the direction of Dr. Goldstein and Kay Meyers. My research involved looking at the early years of the Women’s Building (later called Morrill Hall) and gathering information about the first female students who lived in this dorm. I presented this information at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, linking it to Campus Archaeology and what the demolition of Morrill Hall meant to us. I’ll be working with the CAP summer team until July, and ten I’ll be leaving for a six month stay in Mexico, in which I’ll be assisting in an excavation outside of Mexico City. Additionally, I have hopes of someday using what I’ve learned from my experiences to continue my research of the ancient Maya in a bioarchaeology graduate program. Archaeology has always been a passion of mine, and I am lucky to have found this experience with Campus Archaeology, both to broaden my skills as an archaeologist and to do what I love.
I am unusual here in the Campus Archaeology crew in that I am not an anthropology student, or even an MSU student. I am a student in LCC’s paralegal program, but archaeology is a big interest of mine. I also have been doing it since I was a kid because my dad is Dr. Sean Dunham, a recent Ph.D. grad from MSU’s Department of Anthropology. This is my second year of working with CAP; my first was in 2012. I have also worked on numerous Cultural Resource Management (CRM) projects through CCRG. After I get my associates degree, I am considering either law school or an anthropology degree.
I just finished my sophomore year at MSU as an undergraduate Anthropology student with an additional Religious Studies major. I have been working with Campus Archaeology since February of 2013 when I began an internship learning how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software in an archaeological context. This my second summer working as a member of the Campus Archaeology summer team. This past year, I expanded my GIS experience and skills and presented the results of a GIS-based project investigating MSU’s Sacred Space at UURAF in the spring. This summer, we are looking to further expand CAP’s GIS work in a series of map overlays that will enhance our pre-digging research. I eventually want to be a bioarchaeologist working with the ancient Maya. My desire to become an archaeologist was actually fueled by my fascination with the ancient Maya sparked by a freshman year World History class. I am particularly interested in ritual and how it is expressed on the landscape and in power systems with an emphasis on mortuary contexts. I was recently awarded an assistantship next year for a research project under the direction of Dr. Goldstien that will allow me to further investigate these topics. I hope that this summer with CAP will give me another opportunity to further develop my field skills.
The last two weeks began our first official start to summer survey and excavation. We have lots of projects this summer to juggle, so we will be bouncing around campus trying to get to them all. Here are some updates from the work we did last week and a couple announcements about where we will be this week.
Two Weeks Ago: Jenison Field House
During this first week of summer survey we did shovel testing in the green areas to the north and west of Jenison field house. We also did a quick walking survey along the river to check for artifacts.
Last Week: Training for New Peoples, Jenison Field House, Adams Field Sidewalks and Training for FRIB
Our week began with a training day for all the new workers, other then myself we have a completely new team from the one we had last year. Our new team includes two undergraduate students, a graduate student and alumni of the Anthropology department. We did a historic tour of campus and visited each of the construction sites we will be working on this summer. Following this, we discussed the summer and went other the proper methods for doing Campus Archaeology summer work.
The work began at Jenison Field House. They are replacing the parking lot and sidewalks here, but we only need to survey the latter. In preparation for this we did some survey around the area, checking out the green space between the sidewalks. We didn’t find anything exciting but we did get interviewed by Channel 10 news!
Our next day of work we were out at Adams Field checking out the sidewalks between the Music Building and Cowles House. They are currently replacing the sidewalks in this area with new ‘green’ sidewalks that are made of recycled MSU glass. You can learn more about this cool initiative here: “Even the concrete is green”. Again, we didn’t find too much although there were some nice square cut nails and a portion of an industrial clay pipe.
Our week ended with us doing a safety training with FRIB (Facility for Rare Isotope Beam). As you can tell driving down Wilson by Bogue, they are working hard to move forward on constructing their new buildings. We will be working with them on a number of projects, but right now we are monitoring their progress on creating the power source for the buildings. It is an exciting project to be a part of, and we are looking forward to it.
This Upcoming Week: Jenison Field House and MSU Museum Sidewalks
This week we have two projects we will be jumping between. The first is the Jenison parking lot where we will be starting to survey underneath the sidewalks. We will be beginning this project today around 12pm and will be out there for the afternoon. Then tomorrow and the next day we will be in the Sacred Space area to the North of the MSU Museum working on sidewalks and potentially checking out some green space if we have time.
As always, feel free to come out and visit us, and follow our progress on twitter @capmsu! Just look for the green flag!
This summer, Campus Archaeology is going to be very busy doing archaeological surveys and monitoring various construction projects. There are eight different projects occurring over the summer that we will be a part of in some manner. Over the past couple months we’ve been meeting…