Trash seems like a weird thing to want to find, and most people would go out of their way to not find it. However for archeologists, trash is treasure: we can learn all kinds of things from what people left behind. Being a part of the Campus Archeology Program, we’ve been digging next to College Hall, the building that stood right where Beaumont tower is today. This was the first building on campus and where the learning first took place. Finding the trash from this building will help us learn about our past, our heritage, and how we became to be what we are today, Spartans.
During the past few days looking for buried trash of our past we’ve found several bones. For instance we found a calcined bone (pictured below). A calcined bone is a bone that is repeatedly heated at very hot temperatures. We also found many ash deposits in the ground. These findings would suggest that the people who lived here were burning their trash to dispose of it (keep in mind there wasn’t a weekly garbage pick-up like there is today). Another example is the femur of a cow we found (also pictured below). It had saw marks on the side showing us insight into how they prepared food.
Trash is especially important for our research because we can get a more complete picture of what life was like on campus a hundred or so years ago. It shows dietary behavior, what they preferred to eat, what was available, and, in this example, how they disposed of trash. And better yet it shows it in chronological order. These are all valuable and informative parts of archaeology; so next time you throw something away, think about what it might say about you and your life!