Tag: excavation

A Look Back at CAP’s 2022 Field School

A Look Back at CAP’s 2022 Field School

This past summer, the Campus Archaeology program had the opportunity to offer a field school to archaeology students from MSU and across the state—our first field school since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Directly taking part in ongoing CAP research into life in the 

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. 

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 

Summer 2019 Re-CAP

Summer 2019 Re-CAP

Campus Archaeology had an exciting summer field season, from the archaeological field school to field crew work across campus. We also hosted a class for Grandparent’s University and painted the MSU Rock! Below you can read more about each project. Archaeological Field School This summer 

Introducing the Site of the 2019 CAP Summer Field School

Introducing the Site of the 2019 CAP Summer Field School

Still searching for an archaeology field school for this summer? The Campus Archaeology Program will be offering a field school—right here on MSU’s campus—from May 13 to June 7, 2019.

A field school is one of the best ways to learn what it takes to be an archaeologist, because you learn by actually doing archaeology. CAP summer field school students will earn course credits while gaining hands-on experience and developing key archaeological skills: how to survey, excavate, and map sites, how to identify and interpret artifacts in the lab, how to record and communicate findings, and how to maintain and preserve cultural heritage.

CAP Field School students digging on the banks of the Red Cedar River behind the Admin Building.

Past CAP field schools on MSU’s historic campus have focused on a number of sites across the oldest area of campus known as the “Sacred Space,” a midden associated with construction from Professor Gunson’s house, and Station Terrace, a building that served many uses ranging from housing for bachelor faculty to a post office. 

The 2019 summer field school will focus on the site of a historic homestead, located near present day Shaw Lane and Hagadorn Road on the eastern edge of main campus.

Over the past year, the CAP team has conducted archival research to learn more about the history of this area. Using documents such as U.S. Census records, plat maps, and deeds, we were able to discover how the land was used and who lived there from the mid-1800s to the time it became part of campus in the 1950s.

Peter Toolan and his family owned a strip of land between modern Hagadorn Road and Bogue Street (Plat Book of Ingham County, 1939). From at least 1870 until at least 1920 Peter, and later, his son Peter Jr., farmed land in Meridian Township (U.S. Census 1870-1920). After Peter Jr. died his sister, Mary Rogers, became the head of the household (U.S. Census 1940). Census records from 1940 indicate Mary rented space on the property to John Wesley and Lucy Westrom and Lawrence and Annie Bush (U.S. Census 1940). By 1953, the Westroms must have owned the Toolan property, because warranty deeds show that John Westrom and his son Chester transferred ownership of the land to the Michigan State Board of Agriculture in June of that year.

Plat maps are documents that show divisions of a piece of land. This map from 1939 shows the parcel of land belonging to Peter Toolan. http://www.historicmapworks.com/Atlas/US/31498/Ingham+County+1939c/.

We also consulted historical maps and aerial photographs to learn about any potential buildings associated with these families. Within the investigation area planned for the field school, these documents show evidence of various structures on the Toolan property. A USGS topographic map of the East Lansing area shows that there was a structure on the property by at least 1909 (USGS 1909). However, since the Toolans were in the area since the 1870’s, a cabin or house could have been present there long before the map was made. The first moderately clear aerial photos of the area, from October 1953, show a house and possible outbuildings on the eastern edge of the Toolan property (MSU IPF). All of these structures appear to have been removed by 1965 (MSU IPF), probably to make way for Holmes Hall’s construction. Based on this evidence, we expect that structural remnants or historical artifacts dating from the 1870s to the 1950s are likely associated with the families living on the Toolan homestead.

October 1953 aerial image of the Toolan home lot. Hagadorn Road is just outside of the image to the right. The image shows the main house on the left, as well as one or two smaller outbuildings to the right. https://apps.gis.msu.edu/facilities-information-tool/maps/campus/

CAP first began investigating this area during summer 2018 in response to construction projects taking place near the Shaw and Hagadorn intersection. In May, the CAP team conducted pedestrian and systematic shovel test pit surveys. The team recorded various artifacts including colored glass, milk glass, decorated and undecorated ceramics, bath tile, nails, medicine bottles, and butchered animal bones. In June CAP returned to host an Archaeology STEM camp for IB high school students at the site. Most of the artifacts found in May and June are consistent with dates between the mid to late 1800s and the 1950s, the period it was occupied by the Toolan and later the Westrom and Bush families.

IB STEM camp students screen dirt to look for artifacts.

We are excited to learn more about this site because it is one of the few known homesteads in the area that may have been in operation around the same time the university was founded and throughout its expansion. Investigation of this homestead can give us insight into the growth of campus and the surrounding city of East Lansing. As we continue work this summer we hope to find more artifacts and potentially locate structural remnants from the house associated with the Toolan, Westrom, and Bush families.  

If you’re interested in joining the team for the 2019 field school, you can find more information and the application form here. Applications are due to CAP Director Dr. Stacey Camp (campstac@msu.edu) by March 1, 2019.  


References

Michigan. Ingham County, Town of Meridian. 1870 U.S. Census, page 18.

Michigan. Ingham County, Meridian Township. 1920 U.S. Census, Sheet No. 9A.

Michigan. Ingham County, Meridian Township. 1940 U.S. Census, Sheet No. 20A.

United States Geological Survey. Michigan (Ingham County), Mason Quadrangle. Map. U.S. Department of the Interior. 1909. Accessed: http://historicalmaps.arcgis.com/usgs/

Plat book of Ingham County, Michigan. Meridian Township. Map. W.W. Hixon & Co. 1939. Accessed: http://www.historicmapworks.com/Atlas/US/31498/Ingham+County+1939c/

MSU Infrastructure, Planning, and Facilities (IPF) Public GIS. Accessed: https://apps.gis.msu.edu/facilities-information-tool/maps/campus/

  • Aerial image, October 15th 1953
  • Aerial image, 1965
Summer 2018 Recap

Summer 2018 Recap

This summer was an eventful one for the Campus Archaeology Program field crew! We monitored construction, conducted several pedestrian and shovel test surveys, excavated one test unit, conducted lab analysis, and helped with the IB STEM archaeology camp and grandparents university. Plus, we uncovered an 

Continuing Preparations for Summer Construction on Campus

Continuing Preparations for Summer Construction on Campus

As the weather warms and summer gets closer, the Campus Archaeology Program is gearing up for yet another busy season. While our excavations occur primarily in the summer, months of planning and preparation take place before the first trowel is stuck in the dirt. Many 

1882 Indian Head Penny

1882 Indian Head Penny

NNC-US-1860-1C-Indian Head Cent (wreath & shield).jpg
A penny from an earlier year that features the same design. Image courtesy of the National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History.

For the most part, Unit C of our excavations has mostly produced nails, glass and ceramic shards, and a few fragments of small animal bones but last Friday (06/02) we uncovered an 1882 Indian Head penny. This type of penny has been popular among coin collectors ever since they began to be produced (though it suffered a small decline in popularity between the 1930s-1960s, possibly because the bronze version of the Indian Head cent was still in circulation and may have been overlooked as too common for notice). However, due to the advanced age of the coin, it’s a bit more of a collectors item for modern numismatists who wish to expand their collections, especially desired are those specimens with lesser wear (though some is expected since even the newest of the original Indian Heads are about 126 years old now).

1882 Indian head penny excavated from Unit C.
1882 Indian head penny excavated from Unit C.

Some History

Indian Head pennies were issued by the United States Bureau of the mint between 1859 and 1909. The ‘Indian Head’ was designed in 1859 by James B. Longacre, an engraver employed by the mint, who was directed to develop alternatives for a previous design of hir (the ‘flying eagle’ design which was issued in exchange for worn Spanish silver coins between 1856-1858) after the design was determined to be too difficult to reliably reproduce in the copper-nickel alloy the coins were to be made of. Longacre finished four possible designs by November when the Indian Head pattern was selected from the options and approved by James Ross Snowden, the director of the Mint at the time. Production began on the first of January, 1859. The original 1859 minting had a laurel wreath on the reverse side that completely encircled the ‘One Cent’ text but in 1860 Snowden decided to alter the design further, leaving the ‘Indian Head’ unchanged but swapping the laurel wreath for an oak leaf wreath that didn’t quite encircle the denomination and a narrow shield design that filled the gap in the wreath. Throughout the 1880s, Longacre’s design was reissued as demand for pennies increased, probably due to a decrease of the cost of stamps making pennies more popular. The design finally ceased to be stamped in 1909 when it was replaced with the modern style of penny featuring Abraham Lincoln on its face in honor of the centennial of the hir birth.

The Design

Despite the name, the image on the face of the coin is of not actually of a Native American at all but is actually a white woman who is supposed to be the goddess Liberty wearing the native headdress. According to a popular legend, the facial features of Liberty on the coin were based on Longacre’s young daughter, Sarah, who ze sketched when ze tried on the headdress of a visiting native but Sarah Longacre would have been 30 years old when the design was made rather than the 12 the legend claims and James Longacre hirself not only stated that the face was based that of a statue of Venus, on loan from the Vatican, which ze saw in a Philadelphia museum but after the design was approved in 1858, wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Howell Cobb, in which ze denied it was based on any of the features of any member of hir family.

A neat numismatist fact: The most popular pricing guide for US coin collectors is ‘A Guide Book of United States Coins’ by Richard Yeoman (also called The Red Book). The early editions of the guide have become collectible in their own right and there is now a guide book to collecting early editions of the guide book for coin pricing called ‘A Guide Book Of The Official Red Book Of United States Coins’ by Frank J. Colletti.

Additional information about the penny: http://www.usacoinbook.com/coins/306/small-cents/indian-head-cent/1882-P/

Additional information about John B. Longacre: http://www.usacoinbook.com/encyclopedia/coin-designers/james-b-longacre/

Author: Alex

References

  • JM Bullion. “Indian Head Penny (1859-1909)”
    https://www.jmbullion.com/coin-info/cents/indian-head-pennies/
    Accessed: 06/03/2017
  • JM Bullion.  “1882 Indian Head Penny”
    https://www.jmbullion.com/coin-info/cents/indian-head-pennies/1882-indian-head-penny/
    Accessed: 06/03/2017
  • Coin Trackers. “1882 Indian Head Penny”
    http://cointrackers.com/coins/14612/1882-indian-head-penny/
    Accessed: 06/04/2017
2017 Campus Archaeology Field School

2017 Campus Archaeology Field School

Announcing the 2017 Campus Archaeology Field School! We are pleased to once again offer our on-campus field school.  This five week field school will take place May 30th – June 30th, 2017.  The class takes places Monday through Friday from 9am – 4pm. Students enroll