Final ReCAP: A Fellow’s Farewell to Campus Archaeology

Final ReCAP: A Fellow’s Farewell to Campus Archaeology

Hello, old friends. It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye. It is a bittersweet farewell: I’ve finished my Ph.D. (a good thing),and it is therefore time for me to end my tenure with Campus Archaeology (a sad thing). The past three-and-a-half years spent with Campus Archaeology have contributed tremendously to my growth as a scholar and public archaeologist. For my final post, I decided to reCAP some highlights of my tenure as a CAP fellow.

Throw the Pipe Down the Pooper! – This is one of my most popular blogs, and you may be able to imagine why. It’s a fun read with a cheeky title, and writing this blog was a hoot. A rogue student throwing his illicit broken smoking pipe down the toilet to avoid getting caught with contraband—does it get much better than that? I think not. Plus, it’s my favorite blog title ever.

Archaic projectile points discovered on the MSU Campus (photo by W.A. Lovis)

Ancient MSU – My first year as a CAP fellow I was tasked with writing a report on the only precolonial Native American site on the MSU campus. Part of the larger Beaumont West site, it is a small campsite dating to the Archaic period, which means it’s over 3000 years old. This was a time before the people of ancient Michigan generally used pottery, so as a pottery expert, this was a challenge. I am not, well, the best at lithic (stone tool) analysis. However, the process did improve and expand my analytic skills, and it helped me better acquaint myself with the pre-MSU landscape. There is not much in the way of ancient indigenous archaeological materials on any part of campus because, quite honestly, it didn’t used to be a great place to live. The campus is naturally very low and wet, so not an ideal living situation. The Beaumont West site is located on one of the most naturally high and dry parts of campus, of which some keen Archaic groups took advantage. This research project, in addition to conducting survey shovel tests across campus, helped me understand just how much the MSU landscape has been filled in and altered to make it the relatively level, dry ,and livable space it is today.

Offerings from the 1860s Luncheon hosted by CAP and MSU Culinary Services (photo by S.M. Kooiman)

Capturing Campus Cuisine – This is, of course, my favorite project, as you can no doubt tell by my numerous blogs about food. However, this was more than just a fun project. It was an incredible opportunity to develop my experience in public archaeology, and it spurred my passion for creative outreach. From hosting the 1860’s luncheon, to having our historic meals featured on the MSU Food Truck, to our collaboration with the Student Organic Farm to bring back salsify (which is evidently trendy in Britain now, so we are on the cutting edge!), our project has been non-stop fun. Being able to reach out to people and identify with folks from the past through food has been a truly wonderful experience. Getting to eat some of the food along the way was also pretty cool.

Me having a cow over excavating a cow skeleton

Don’t Have a Cow – The discovery of the skeletonized cow buried six feet underground on campus this past summer was exciting, and the opportunity to help excavate it was a new and fun opportunity for me since I haven’t really worked on burials, animal or human, before. It also tied in nicely to my prior research and blogs on the history of dairy at MSU, which was also great because it gave me an excuse to eat cheese and ice cream.

CAP fellows standing around while Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter does all the work during the USDA Rose Lake Survey

CAPeople – It might sound trite, but the people I have worked with at CAP are what made my tenure as a fellow truly enjoyable. First,the opportunity to learn from and work with Dr. Lynne Goldstein was incredibly important for me. She has taught me so much about archaeology, outreach, and the inner workings of the university system, and she has been a supportive mentor as I explore my options outside of CAP. Working with Dr. Stacey Camp this past semester has also brought new insights and perspectives to my work,and I also appreciate her insider perspective on the figure skating world (she’s met Kristy Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan!). It’s been a joy to collaborate with Autumn Painter on the food project for the past couple years. She has been a wonderful project partner (who enjoys food as much as I do), and to see her thriving as the Campus Archaeologists this semester has been great. I also had a great time working with Lisa Bright, my motivated and creative CAPtain for three years. The food project was initially her idea, so I owe a lot to her creativity (which also came in handy for developing punny blog titles).

There were also times when I would hang out with my friends and then suddenly realize that everybody there was a CAP fellow. CAP certainly helped me form lifelong friendships and bonds and for that I will always be grateful. That is, until I become a famous food travel TV personality and forget everyone… (we can all dream, can’t we?).

So, farewell, CAP blog readers. I hope you have enjoyed my ruminations and research. If you are interested in reading more about ancient food and pottery, follow my personal blog, Hot for Pots!

And farewell CAP. It’s been one crazy ride through history.

Author: Susan Kooiman

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