Path From the Past 2.0
Test pit number one was coming to a close and Andrew, Valerie, and I were all waiting in anticipation to begin a new test unit. The area where we would move to is the site of the old student trash pit from College Hall. Last year, they set up a unit in the area and it turned out to yield numerous artifacts. In hopes of defining the boundaries of the trash pit, and excavating more artifacts, five other test pits were set up surrounding the unit they dug in last year. Now of course, with the success of last year, we were very ecstatic to begin our excavations in TP10.
Little did we know, that we would experience an unexpected déjà vu …
As you may remember from Andrew’s previous blog post, we ran into an old cinder path going through test pit one that we had hypothesized ran parallel to the old creek the Prof. William Beal filled in. Well, let us introduce you to the “Path to the Past 2.0”. As we began to clear level one, we noticed that we were having a bit of a hard time digging the shovel into the unit. As we would pull up dirt, we noticed tiny specks of charcoal. I think all three of our blood pressures began to rise. “Had we hit another cinder path? No, we couldn’t have. That would be crazy!” Well, it turned out that we did in fact encounter another cinder path. This path, although slightly different from the first (the cinder was much thicker), was most likely a continuation of the path running through test pit number one. It gets even better, though! As the crew for test pit number six (Nancy, Erin, and Max) began their excavations, they ran into the path as well! This provided us with an even broader view of the historic landscape as we were able to piece the cinder paths together.
Although frustrating and challenging to dig through, we are able to learn a lot from this continuous cinder path. The most important thing that we are able to gain is a visual reconstruction of the past landscape. Maps often did not show walkways or paths as they do today. By finding these cinder paths running through multiple units we are able to visualize the landscape as it was at the turn of the century. So, although it’s not a shiny piece of whiteware or a unique artifact, our beloved cinder path is crucial in reconstructing the historical landscape of MSU.
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