Butterflies and Gendered Artifacts – Concluding Field School 2015

_DSC0221As the field school comes to an end, I will share with you another one of my favorite artifacts that we have found in Unit B. Although we have found 2 intact vials in our unit, and several pieces of ceramic with just the makers mark, another cool artifact that we have found in our unit is a metal clasp or buckle, with a decorative butterfly. What is interesting about this piece is that it is gendered. Some of the artifacts that we have found during this excavation have been clearly gendered – perfume bottles are definitely items used by women, and to have them in this excavation is interesting because most artifacts found on campus are not associated with female activity on campus. Another interesting aspect of this artifact is that there is writing impressed on the back of the clasp or buckle. Although the impression is hard to read, it could state either “PAT APP”, patent applied for, or “PAT APR”, patent issued, April. There are a pair of numbers separated by an apostrophe, which could be the date that the patent was issued. If the impression states the specific date that the patent was issued, then we could find the patent information about this artifact using the national database, if we wanted to research this artifact more. I think the most interesting part of this artifact, however, is that it is gendered and correlates with our previous assumption that this is refuse from the Gunson house and home management program.

Although digging this site has been frustrating due to the number of large present in the unit, I have thoroughly enjoyed this field school and am very glad that I was able to participate. During the past four weeks, not only have I learned techniques that are necessary in my future career, but I also have learned more about the rich history of the university that I love. The history of MSU isn’t something that is generally spoken about outside of Campus Archaeology, and learning that the values and principles that the early incarnation of MSU held are still important to the university today. Although learning and higher education has always been and still is important at MSU, hard work and dedication to your craft and your university have also been important values, and that sets MSU apart from other universities, in my opinion.

Not only has this class been very informative about MSU’s past, it has also been one of the most interesting and informative learning experiences I’ve ever had. Rarely is anything taught in such an immersive and hands-on way, and, although this method is the way that most, if not all, archaeologists learn the science, I think this field school was a good first experience because although we had our fair share of problems in our unit, we still were able to find a large quantity of artifacts that held meaning to our excavation. Another good thing about this field school is that the artifacts that we’re finding are mainly historic, so it is easier to identify what is an artifact and what isn’t. I really enjoyed this field school, and I am thankful that I was able to have my first excavation at MSU.