Greetings! This is Dr. Stacey Camp, Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program. This past year has been one of constant change for our program. We have a new Campus Archaeologist, Ben Akey, after saying goodbye to our last Campus Archaeology, Jeff Burnett. We have …
Greetings! For those of you just joining our blog for the first time, I am Dr. Camp, the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program (CAP). I am entering my 5th year here at MSU, and my 13th teaching as a tenure track faculty member …
Greetings from Dr. Camp, the Director of the MSU Campus Archaeology Program.
This summer has been one of great concern for our community and nation as well as one where we have had to rethink how we approach Campus Archaeology amid a global pandemic. Under normal circumstances, our staff, which usually includes 6-8 PhD students, would be out on construction projects across campus during the summer. We spend our late winters and springs researching the areas of campus slated for construction so we know what we may find once the ground has been broken. We often do surveys of the landscape and, if we find artifacts or architecture, excavation before construction starts to see if they may be additional artifacts or cultural resources on the area slated for construction. We completed our research in the winter and spring for construction planned this summer, but then COVID-19 descended on our state and community, forcing nearly all workers on MSU’s enormous campus home to work remotely.
Despite the stress and uncertainty of the situation, our outgoing Campus Archaeologist, Autumn Painter, immediately adapted to the situation at hand and figured out creative, safe ways to keep Campus Archaeology running and our staff busy. Under Painter’s leadership, our staff put together fantastic research papers, reports, and innovative digital projects that we will be unveiling this coming year in lieu of the in-person outreach events we usually do. Despite our staff being locked out of their buildings and laboratories this summer, Painter made labwork happen by delivering the labwork to our staff’s doorsteps (with no contact, of course, and following all safety protocols).
Autumn Painter retired as our Campus Archaeologist this past July after serving two years in the role (we miss her already!) and putting in many years of time into Campus Archaeology as a fellow and undergraduate. We wish we could have celebrated her retirement in person, but we hope to do so when it’s safe. Jeff Burnett, a current PhD student and historical archaeologist in our department, is our new Campus Archaeologist, and he will be introducing himself in a blog post later this semester.
As our readers can probably guess, some archaeology cannot be done remotely. Archaeology is considered essential work due to federal compliance regulations, so many professional archaeologists have never stopped working in the field during the pandemic. This includes a few of us in Campus Archaeology. In late May, MSU began working on Service Road to install and extend utility lines. Within days of the project’s start, they hit a substantial archaeological midden, or, in non-archaeological jargon, a trash dump or landfill.
We received permission to have two of us – me, the Director of Campus Archaeology, and one Campus Archaeologist (Autumn or Jeff), work on the site. We completed the appropriate COVID-19 trainings and followed COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing a mask while out on the site, taking our temperatures before we came to the site and when we arrived at the site, and using our own field equipment instead of sharing it.
Though it was disappointing to not have our entire crew out investigating the site, we were very thankful for the entire construction crew on-site who were active participants in the project. They helped pull artifacts that they uncovered and put them aside so we could collect and study them. Mike Serafini of Strata Environmental Services, Incorporated corresponded with us daily to let us know how the work was proceeding and if they were hitting more of the archaeological midden during construction, which was a great help to us. Everyone on the site worked as collaborators and partners, sharing their knowledge of historic artifacts with us. It made our work easier given the restrictions and limited staffing we faced. We are so very thankful for all of the people with whom we worked and met this summer amid a stressful time.
We look forward to sharing our discoveries from this site with our followers this coming year as we continue to document MSU’s rich heritage. We also plan to follow through on our commitment to focusing on the diverse people who have been connected with MSU and to the promises we made in our blog earlier this summer. While we are not able to do in-person outreach events this fall, we have developed some exciting new digital content that will hopefully keep you (virtually) connected to MSU. We miss our beautiful campus and are looking forward to the day we can return in-person regularly. For now, we leave you with some photos of our discoveries this summer. Keep an eye out for more artifacts on our other social media platforms!
Since March 2020, our world here in Michigan and in the United States has come undone. Inequities invisible to some but known and repeatedly experienced by people of color, particularly Black Michiganders, in the past and present have been laid bare before our feet. To …
As the end of my first year as the Campus Archaeology Program Director is coming to a close, I wanted to share some reflections and thoughts about our work. First, I wanted to say that I have been very lucky to work with our CAP …
In honor of World Teachers’ Day, we thought we would share our experiences working with students and teachers this past summer (2018). In the fall of 2017, Doctors Lynne Goldstein (former CAP Director), Stacey Camp (current CAP Director), and Leigh Graves Wolf (Clinical Associate Professor in Education at Arizona State University) received a Michigan State University Science and Society @ State grant to run an “Archaeology STEM Camp” aimed at International Baccalaureate (IB) high school students. The goal of this grant was to assess student and teacher interest in a residential archaeology camp that applies STEM principles to archaeological practice. We worked closely with two IB high school teachers – Mr. Christopher Daughtery and Mr. Ian Jones – from Michigan to create curriculum that would meet the standards of IB learning goals and provide an interactive, engaging experience for junior and senior high school students.
One of the primary reasons we chose to align our program with IB curriculum is because it emphasizes active, experiential learning. IB high school juniors are explicitly required to complete a research project and an “extended essay” (EE) that outlines this work. Students can choose from a variety of topics that they may wish to pursue for a future career. The IB curriculum highlights anthropology as a particular discipline of emphasis for the extended essay requirement. Students working on an anthropological project are encouraged to use both primary and secondary data to investigate a research question.
After working closely with Mr. Daughtery and Mr. Jones in early 2018, we developed programming that would allow IB high school students to explore the entire gamut of archaeological practice in 2.5 days time. Our program of events can be downloaded here. We wanted students to understand the investigative and research process from the perspective of archaeology so that interested students could potentially devise their own research project using our data.
We welcomed a total of 15 IB high school students to MSU’s campus in June along with Mr. Daughtery and Mr. Jones. Using MSU’s campus as a laboratory, the IB high school student participants first learned about the history of archaeological excavations on MSU’s campus via a tour from Dr. Lynne Goldstein. They were then taught about the process of using historical documents and photographs to reconstruct what happened on a landscape and given an opportunity to construct their own timeline of events by citing historical sources. They were asked to focus on one parcel of land at the intersection of Shaw and Hagadorn on MSU’s campus. We selected this area for study because it was slated for construction in 2018 and, as such, CAP had been doing research on it to determine what archaeological deposits might be discovered during construction.
The IB high school students used what they discovered about the parcel of land to make inferences about what kinds of artifacts they might find beneath the surface. They then proceeded to learn how to do a pedestrian survey to locate extant features on the landscape as well as artifacts that may be related to the people who lived here prior to the land being sold to MSU. Next, they learned how to map a landscape and perform shovel test probes to further identify landscape modifications and historic artifacts. CAP employees also taught them how to use open source GIS to map where they had surveyed and shovel tested.
The final component of the Archaeology STEM Camp involved learning how to clean, identify, date artifacts, and interpret artifacts found during their archaeological testing work at Shaw and Hagadorn. We encouraged students to consider why certain artifacts were recovered and what those artifacts might say about the former inhabitants of MSU’s campus. What might these artifacts tell us about the class, gender, and racial identities of these families?
Another vital component of our Archaeology STEM Camp was examining high school students’ understandings and grasp of archaeology as a STEM discipline. We had our students complete pre-camp and post-camp surveys (with IRB permission, of course) and plan to share our analyses of these data in a peer-reviewed journal article in the coming years. We also intend to seek additional funding so that we can offer our Archaeology STEM Camp once again. Our Anthropology colleague Dr. Joseph Hefner kindly assisted in the survey data analysis. We look forward to sharing our findings with our readers and the rest of the archaeology community.