While the ground may be covered with inches of snow, CAP is looking ahead to plan for summer construction, in addition to our undergraduate archaeological field school. As you would have read in a previous blog post, the field school will be taking place near …
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 …
As all MSU students, professors, and staff know, MSU is continually improving their roads, sidewalks, sporting fields, etc. Each spring through fall, MSU’s campus is scattered with constructions sites with the goal of bettering the physical campus environment. While this activity is very visible, there is much that goes on behind the scenes. Multiple parties are involved in the planning stages, including the Campus Archaeology Program. In order to achieve our goal of preserving the cultural heritage of MSU, we must understand where construction will take place, what kind of work will be done, and then generate our own plans for mitigating any possible damage to archaeological sites.
So how does this all work?
Throughout the year, MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF) (https://ipf.msu.edu/) is working on construction plans and creating maps and documents for each change. (See the IPF website to read more about their project phases: https://ipf.msu.edu/construction/business-partners/project-phases.html.) CAP comes into the picture around the ‘Construction Documents’ phase, when we can meet with staff at IPF and go over the upcoming planned construction.
I personally attended my very first meeting with IPF this past week, alongside Dr. Goldstein, Dr. Camp, and Lisa Bright, where I was able to learn about the upcoming construction this summer and see all of the incredibly detailed plan maps that have been created for each project! At this meeting, we discussed construction that will begin in April on the Service Road soccer field and in May along Wilson Road. There are so many advantages to meeting with the employees at IPF, including seeing the great detail within their plan maps. These maps allow us to determine what type of archaeological survey needs to be conducted before they begin construction, as well as how CAP should approach monitoring the work once it has begun. At this meeting we also discussed their timeline for the construction projects, as well as when it would be best for us to conduct our survey of the impacted areas. It was a great experience, and taught me a great deal about the extensive planning that takes place within our collaboration with IPF.
Now that we have met with IPF and have determined where on campus construction could impact archaeological sites, CAP must determine our survey methods for these projects. Currently, our plan stands as follows: as soon as the snow melts and the ground thaws a little (hopefully in early April), CAP will begin to survey, using a grid of shovel test pits, within the Service Road soccer field. During this survey, we will record and collect any archaeological evidence recovered. Once our survey is complete and construction begins, CAP fellows and summer field crew employees will then monitor the work for any further evidence of archaeological sites or artifacts that may have been outside of the initial survey.
In addition to surveying and monitoring, CAP also conducts archival research prior to construction projects, combing the written record for documents related to historic MSU campus in the areas of impact.
The combination of archaeological survey, monitoring construction, and archival research will ensure that we are doing everything that we can to protect MSU’s archaeological heritage! Keep a look out for us on campus!
Author: Autumn Painter
For much of this summer the CAP field crew was busy surveying the area surrounding the East neighborhood (Akers, Fee, Hubbard, Conrad). Beginning in March 2018 Wilson road will be altered, creating an additional exit onto Hagadorn, a traffic light on Shaw, as well as …
We had a busy summer here at CAP. We were able to excavate at some interesting and important places such as the Abbott Entrance and Beals first botanical lab. Our last project area for the summer was behind the Old Horticulture building on north campus. IPF …
Today is the 2016 Day of Archaeology. The goal of the Day of Archaeology project is to provide a window into the varied lives of archaeologists around the world. You can see our contribution at: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/summer-msu-campus-archaeology/
Head on over and check it out. You can browse all of the posts, or view by theme such as Historical Archaeology, or Digital Archaeology.
Since we last checked in we’ve had a busy week and a half. The Abbot entrance landscape rejuvenation project is coming to a close, so we’ve been able to finish work there and move onto testing other research questions. U.S. Weather Bureau Although the rejuvenation construction …
Spring classes have ended, thousands of people have graduated, and a relative calm has spread over the campus. While many people kick back and relax over their summer vacation, this is the busy season for us here at CAP. During the summer we’re busy excavating, …
Earlier this summer, the Campus Archaeology team surveyed the green spaces behind Jenison Fieldhouse, next to the Red Cedar. We weren’t finding much, just the occasional nail or piece of glass, but regardless, we still wanted to know more about the building and the land around it. So with quite a few research goals in mind, we all took a trip to MSU’s Archives and Historical Collections to do some digging around.
The fieldhouse was built in 1939, opened in 1940, and was named the Frederick Cowles Jenison Fieldhouse, after the alumnus who willed his entire estate to the university. The Jenison Estate along with funds from the Public Works Administration, were used to fund the construction. Jenison Fieldhouse housed the men’s basketball team until 1989 when it was moved to the Breslin Center, today it houses the women’s volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling, and indoor track and field teams as well as the administrative offices for the Athletic Department. The fieldhouse was built on an open field south of the Red Cedar, and northwest of Demonstration Hall. It cost more than $1,100,000, and at the time of its opening was perhaps the finest building of its kind in the world.
It originally featured several handball, shuffle board, and table tennis courts, numerous locker and equipment rooms, offices, a swimming pool, fencing, dancing, and wrestling rooms, as well as a gymnasium and running track all within the building. North of the fieldhouse there were two regulation size baseball diamonds, to the west of those was a large golf practice green, and immediately south of Jenison’s south entrance was an archery range. Jenison Fieldhouse has undergone a series of renovations since then, including replacing the golf green and archery range with parking lots. The most recent large scale renovation was in 2003, which is how it is seen today.
The reason we went to dig at Jenison Fieldhouse was that there a few patches of sidewalks that were being replaced and we needed to shovel test pit underneath the old sidewalks before the new ones were laid down. We were also going to survey the remaining green space around the parking lots and near the river that hadn’t been done during previous surveys of the area. We started out surveying the green space in the morning; we set up a grid and had upwards of 15 test pits to dig.
Aside from a number of large rocks and troublesome tree roots, the test pits were relatively empty. Like I mentioned before, we found the usual scatter of miscellaneous artifacts, some nails, tiny ceramic sherds, bits of metal, and a few pieces of glass. But we did find something that at the time seemed unusual, a golf ball. It was certainly an unexpected find, but after a foray into the Archive’s collections we were able to put it into context. The ball was a Titleist, and the only markings on it were the words “Titleist 2.” The dimples were also larger than most of the golf balls we see currently, which led us to believe it might be an older ball. After some online research we found out that Titleist golf balls have been around since 1930, and that combined with our new knowledge of the golf green that is now a parking lot to the west of the building, the same parking lot we were surveying next to, led to a better understanding of why we had found a golf ball in such a seemingly wrong location. So with a little research and the help of the MSU Archive’s staff, we were able to fit the golf ball we pulled out of the ground into Jenison’s historical context.
Author: Josh Schnell
Summer 2013 has provided MSU’s campus community with many changes. While students are partaking in various summer activities away from campus, MSU has push forwarded with various construction projects to revamp an aging campus infrastructure. Returning students in the fall may not recognize parts of …