Tag: archaeology

The Golden Eagle Promotion: How Sprite Bottles Became a National Park Service Advertisement

The Golden Eagle Promotion: How Sprite Bottles Became a National Park Service Advertisement

While looking through the artifacts recovered from the 2020 Service Road project, the CAP crew found an interesting green glass bottle fragment. After further investigation, I found that this fragment was the remaining portion of a Sprite bottle made by the Chattanooga Glass Company (as 

Getting ‘Ghosted’: Calamitous Clay Creations from the Outré Outhouse

Getting ‘Ghosted’: Calamitous Clay Creations from the Outré Outhouse

During archaeological excavations, some of the most ubiquitous artifacts unearthed are ceramic sherds that were once part of bowls, plates, vases, or other decorative pieces. It is relatively easy to appreciate the skills and techniques that go into the creation of meticulously crafted ceramic vessels. 

CAP Update: Spring 2022

CAP Update: Spring 2022

Here at Michigan State we welcome winter as we return to classes and our labs. I would like share what we have been up to over break and provide a preview of what CAP will be working on this semester.

What We Did Over The Break

Logo for the 2022 SHA conference

Over break CAP fellows finalized our presentation for the 2022 Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology where we were to present at a session on Campus Archaeology and Community Collaboration. This conference was held from January 5 – 8 in Philadelphia, PA. Unfortunately, the representatives from CAP elected not attend the conference due to the current rise in COVID-19 cases, but Benjamin Akey kindly recorded our presentation so it could be played in our absence.

In this talk we share our investigation of the mid-20th century Service Road midden (trash dump) found at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan and the related history of temporary post-World War II student housing on campus. The first part provides a historical overview of the post-World War II campus and of the midden site. The second and third sections explore in greater depth the cosmetic vessels and institutional ware ceramics recovered from the Service Road Midden. A study of MSU’s institutional ware ceramics provides both a reliable way to date the midden deposit and, by exploring their decorative styles, identify the places on campus where the ceramics were used and, thus, where some of the assemblage may have come from. A study of cosmetic and bodily-hygiene products provides insights into the negotiation of gendered identities on a campus that—for the first time—included a large proportion of married students and their families. 

We have added our presentation here and we hope you enjoy it:

Video of CAP’s presentation at the 2022 SHA conference

What We Have Coming Up:

This spring we are looking forward to:

  • participating in MSU’s Science Festival – we will have booth with hands-on activities, a new exhibit, and archaeologists to answer questions about the archaeology and the university’s history.
  • creating a new geocaching tours and locations
  • presenting talks on campus
  • preparing for summer fieldwork
  • sharing our archaeology choose-your-own-adventure games
  • performing new research on our lab collections
  • writing new blogs
  • and welcoming a new cohort of undergraduate CAP interns

Stay tuned for all of this and more as we continue to work to share and protect MSU’s cultural heritage in 2022 and beyond.

All the Names She Could not Bear

All the Names She Could not Bear

A Salty Tale I wanted this blog to be about patents, not Ruth Van Tellingen. Or should I call her Ruth Bendel? Or Ruth Elizabeth Thompson? I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we delve into Ruth’s life, let’s review the concept of patents as they 

Walking Through MSU’s Culinary Past

Walking Through MSU’s Culinary Past

When COVID hit our campus, CAP was forced to rethink how we perform our community outreach. We needed new, innovative ways to engage and educate the public without requiring them to meet in large groups. One of the ways we did this was to transition 

Looking to Have a Good Twine? Get Ready for Our New Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Archaeology Twine!

Looking to Have a Good Twine? Get Ready for Our New Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Archaeology Twine!

Here at Campus Archaeology, we love outreach – just this past week, we presented at both Michigan Archaeology Day and at our annual Apparitions and Archaeology Tour! (Thank you to those who stopped by!) We love outreach so much because we are passionate about archaeology and MSU’s history that we can’t help but find ways to connect with our local community here so we can all understand and learn about our history together.

However, over the past year and a half, we’ve had to adjust our events – some were cancelled while others were transitioned to an online setting. In fact, we have only started back in person this semester and still have certain protocols in place to protect us and those that come to our events. And this has been a different experience for us, as we usually love the opportunity to answer questions and listen to stories from our participants. But during this process, we learned a lot more about tools available for online learning and how we can engage with all of you in a new way!

I (Rhian) got to work with our Campus Archaeologist, Jeff Burnett, last year to create the Virtual Haunted Tour twine. I had never encountered Twine before, but loved how we could create an interactive exhibit that provides more information than we are able to do in person! Plus, we could incorporate more primary sources of photos and information available through the university archives! I personally learned a lot making the Twine and I’m hopeful that others felt the same way when reading it.

Based on this experience, I started to think about how we could use digital outreach again this year as an educational tool for those who are interested in learning more about the process of archaeology. I am in the forensic anthropology program here at MSU and while I knew the methodology for forensic archaeology, I joined CAP specifically to get more experience with traditional archaeological methods – both in the field and in the lab. Now that I’m getting more familiar with the nuances of archaeology, I wanted to create a tool to help others out there like me, who also want to learn about archaeology!

So I am teaming up with another CAP Fellow, Aubree Marshall, to create a new Twine tool for learning archaeology! We will be creating two different Twines:

The first Twine will guide our users through one of our more famous excavations: Saints’ Rest! While many of you may be familiar with this site, as we found many exciting artifacts at this site, we will walk you through each step of the process over the years and why we used certain methods, tools, or protocols. We hope this can help everyone understand why we process sites in a formalized way – and how that helps us to preserve the context and association of the artifacts we find and understand their historical significance!

Saints’ Rest, ca. 1865. Image courtesy of MSU Archives and Historical Collections

The second Twine will be a choose-your-own-adventure format! Based on an excavation we did this summer at Spartan Village, we will provide a practice scenario for all of you: at each step of the process, we will provide you with the information we are typically given regarding a site (e.g., MSU’s construction crews were digging and hit a bunch of artifacts!) and you will be able to choose what you should do in response (e.g., go out now, wait one hour, start in the morning, etc.). In this way, you will understand how we make choices as how to excavate a site without delaying construction while still doing our best to preserve the history of our campus.

Twine is often used for interactive fantasy/role player games online where players can choose their own character and then decide what path they choose in a hope to win the game! Because of its success in that format, we believe this choose-your-own-archaeology-adventure will be a great learning tool as anyone who goes through our Twine will learn via experience!

We will be working on writing the script for the Twines this semester and will begin piecing together the html code next semester – hopefully these will be available for next summer and we can’t wait to make them available for all of you!!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Looking Back, Looking Forward

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 

Meet the 2021 – 2022 Campus Archaeology Program GRADUATE FELLOWS

Meet the 2021 – 2022 Campus Archaeology Program GRADUATE FELLOWS

Photo by ©Nick Schrader, All Rights Reserved In September Michigan State’s Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) archaeologists wrap up our summer field work here on campus and return to the routine of classes, personal research, and teaching that each semester brings. The start of a new 

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

INTRODUCING OUR 2020-2021 CAP GRADUATE FELLOWS

Thank you Autumn Painter, outgoing Campus Archaeologist:

Autumn Painter, Campus Archaeologist

As we say goodbye to outgoing Campus Archaeologist Autumn Painter who, in her two years in the position, continued CAP’s legacy of creative outreach, education, and mitigation while also profoundly shaping the future of the program, we welcome in a new Campus Archaeologist and a cohort of new and returning graduate fellows.

Campus Archaeologist:

Photograph of Jeff Burnett sitting, hands clasped, at a table.

Jeff Burnett: Jeff (he/him/his) is a third-year Ph.D. student in the department of Anthropology. After two years as a CAP fellow, this fall Jeff begins his first term as the Campus Archaeologist. His research focuses on the archaeology African Diaspora in the 19th and 20th centuries and using community-based practices to explore the intersections of class and race in the construction, maintenance, and memorialization of place and space in the United States. This year Jeff will be working with other fellows on their projects, helping to rethink our outreach in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and studying the archaeological and historical presence of children on MSU’s campus.

Campus Archaeology Program Graduate Fellows:

Photograph of Benjamin Akey looking down at an artifact in their hands.

Benjamin Akey: Benjamin (they/them/theirs) is a second-year doctoral student and graduate research assistant, with a focus on North American historical archaeology. They received their BA in Anthropology from University of California Santa Cruz in 2018, where they wrote a thesis on identity formation and the (re)production of consent for capitalist modes of accumulation through patterns of alcohol consumption in the Santa Cruz lime industry. They currently focus on the intersection of company-town labor regimes and the formation of specific radicalized, classed, and gendered identities among Japanese-American communities in the early 20th century. Benjamin joined CAP as a fellow in Fall 2019, and is particularly looking forward to continuing to develop outreach skills, doing archival research, and report writing.


Photograph of Jack Biggs crawling out of the mouth of a cave.

Jack Biggs: Jack (he/him/his) is a seventh year Ph.D. candidate, specializing in Biological Anthropology and is a returning CAP fellow (after a year hiatus). His research is focused on the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica and how their cultural ideas of age, identity, and cosmology intersect and record themselves within their bones and teeth. As a big proponent of using 3D technologies to teach and show others about MSU’s cultural heritage, Jack is hoping to use this skillset to bolster CAP’s digital outreach during the current COVID-19 crisis so that anyone can have access to the rich history beneath our feet.


Photograph of Rhian Dunn hand-mapping at a table.

Rhian Dunn: Rhian (she/her/hers) is a second year biological anthropology doctoral student, focusing in forensic anthropology. Her research interests include human variation and improving aspects of the biological profile (i.e., human identification). Rhian is starting her second year as a CAP fellow and hopes to continue getting more experience in archaeological surveying and with identifying historical artifacts. She is also interested in public outreach and archival data used to provide context for archaeological work. 


Photograph of Emily Milton with a camera in front of a vista of the Atacama desert.

Emily Milton: Emily (she/her/hers) is a second-year dual-degree doctoral student in Anthropology and Environmental Science and Policy. Her research combines archaeology and paleoclimatology to study how human use of mountain landscapes has changed since the last ice age. This is Emily’s first year as a CAP fellow. She is excited to engage with CAP’s existing public outreach events by helping to transfer in-person experiences online.   


Photograph of Amber Plemons using a total station to take measurements of a coffin.

Amber Plemons: Amber (she/her/hers) is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology, focusing in Biological Anthropology. This is her third year serving as a CAP fellow. Her research focuses on understanding the causative forces of human variation in craniofacial morphology, specifically the impacts of climate and genetics. Amber assisted in building a database for CAP artifacts recovered and housed at Michigan State University and aims to continue to improve and modify the database and prepare a public searchable front end for the database this year. Additionally, she will continue her work with the Girl Scouts organization to teach the future women of archaeology by creating an online platform and help with other CAP duties, such as site research, report writing, and researching the history of minorities on MSU campus.

CAP logo
Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

Campus Archaeology in the Time of COVID-19

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