It’s week three of our summer CAP work, and we’ve spent it digging test pits at Munn Field. I’ll admit, I was a little jealous that I missed out on the cool Vet Lab find two weeks ago, but now I’m finally back working with …
The last two weeks began our first official start to summer survey and excavation. We have lots of projects this summer to juggle, so we will be bouncing around campus trying to get to them all. Here are some updates from the work we did last week and a couple announcements about where we will be this week.
Two Weeks Ago: Jenison Field House
During this first week of summer survey we did shovel testing in the green areas to the north and west of Jenison field house. We also did a quick walking survey along the river to check for artifacts.
Last Week: Training for New Peoples, Jenison Field House, Adams Field Sidewalks and Training for FRIB
Our week began with a training day for all the new workers, other then myself we have a completely new team from the one we had last year. Our new team includes two undergraduate students, a graduate student and alumni of the Anthropology department. We did a historic tour of campus and visited each of the construction sites we will be working on this summer. Following this, we discussed the summer and went other the proper methods for doing Campus Archaeology summer work.
The work began at Jenison Field House. They are replacing the parking lot and sidewalks here, but we only need to survey the latter. In preparation for this we did some survey around the area, checking out the green space between the sidewalks. We didn’t find anything exciting but we did get interviewed by Channel 10 news!
Our next day of work we were out at Adams Field checking out the sidewalks between the Music Building and Cowles House. They are currently replacing the sidewalks in this area with new ‘green’ sidewalks that are made of recycled MSU glass. You can learn more about this cool initiative here: “Even the concrete is green”. Again, we didn’t find too much although there were some nice square cut nails and a portion of an industrial clay pipe.
Our week ended with us doing a safety training with FRIB (Facility for Rare Isotope Beam). As you can tell driving down Wilson by Bogue, they are working hard to move forward on constructing their new buildings. We will be working with them on a number of projects, but right now we are monitoring their progress on creating the power source for the buildings. It is an exciting project to be a part of, and we are looking forward to it.
This Upcoming Week: Jenison Field House and MSU Museum Sidewalks
This week we have two projects we will be jumping between. The first is the Jenison parking lot where we will be starting to survey underneath the sidewalks. We will be beginning this project today around 12pm and will be out there for the afternoon. Then tomorrow and the next day we will be in the Sacred Space area to the North of the MSU Museum working on sidewalks and potentially checking out some green space if we have time.
As always, feel free to come out and visit us, and follow our progress on twitter @capmsu! Just look for the green flag!
Author: Katy Meyers Emery
This summer, Campus Archaeology is going to be very busy doing archaeological surveys and monitoring various construction projects. There are eight different projects occurring over the summer that we will be a part of in some manner. Over the past couple months we’ve been meeting …
You may have noticed a large amount of construction going on around Beal Street and Michigan Avenue, in fact there are three different construction projects going on. Two of these have already begun around the Beal Street Entrance to campus, and are of major interest …
You may have noticed that the area around Michigan Avenue from Harrison Road to East Grand River Road is completely covered with construction equipment, orange cones, and various people in neon yellow. In a half mile radius there are three different construction projects that are occurring, two of which will take part on portions of MSU’s campus. Over the next few months, Michigan Ave between Harrison and Grand River, the Beal Street Entrance to campus, and portions of West Circle Drive will be removed for various reasons. The construction began this week, and we were out there bright and early monday morning to discuss the projects and monitor the initial progress.
Tomorrow we will begin to survey one portion of the Michigan Ave project; the green space and sidewalks around the Beal Street Entrance to campus. During the survey we will be digging shovel tests so we can get a sample of what the area is like, and determine if it requires further archaeological investigation.
In order to determine the historic significance and potential of discovering archaeological sites, we first look at maps to see what has been located in this area and how it has changed over MSU’s history. A map drawn in 1959, but based on historic sources, recreates what the campus would have looked like in 1857 when it was first opened. We can see the area under investigation was forested, and the road that was present at the time appears quite similar in direction and pathway to the current road.
However, a map from 1870 shows that there was no road in this area, and that it was simply forest. This could mean that there was no large main road allowing access, perhaps a smaller path that didn’t warrant placement on the map, or that the 1959 reconstruction map of 1857 was incorrect about accessibility in this area. By the 1890’s though it is clear from maps that a road definitely exists in this area. More research needs to be done to determine what was actually in this area, how it has changed, and what we might possibly find. The survey will also help us determine what is in this area.
From historic sources, we know that this road would have led to Michigan Ave and Collegeville, a residential area founded in 1887 by Beal and Carpenter. As this area became more populated, this entrance under investigation would have been used more. By the 1920’s Collegeville was full of inhabitants. However- it appears the Beal Street Entrance area itself has been fairly vacant throughout history.
Feel free to come out to the site and visit us tomorrow! It may be a little cold, but the sunshine should help. We will be working at the site from about 8 to 10am, and would love some visitors!
Author: Katy Meyers Emery
When I arrived to work last week, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we would be surveying the old Botany Greenhouses, particularly since I’ve walked by them for several years and, in passing, have always wondering about it’s “story.” The old Botany Greenhouses …
If you’ve been following our twitter feed or facebook, you know that we are hard at work surveying beneath the sidewalks around Linton Hall and Beaumont Tower. As part of the campus construction, a majority of the sidewalks within the sacred space are being renovated. Sidewalk replacement involves removal of the old walk, flattening the ground, laying down sand, and then covering the area with fresh cement. This process is fairly quick, and most walks are removed and replaced in an afternoon. However, the sacred space is an important area for MSU’s history. By digging beneath the sidewalks as they are removed we are able to get a glimpse at sections of the sacred space that we haven’t been able to access. These sections are also protected by the sidewalks and are therefore more likely to contain preserved artifacts.
With a team of grad students we began working two weeks ago, and have been fairly busy since then following the demolition crews. So what has been underneath the sidewalks you tread across everyday? Here are some of our finds from these surveys.
Beaumont Northwest Sidewalk Survey: Salt Glazed Stoneware
Ceramics are one of the primary types of objects we find on campus, although usually it is more delicate plain whiteware. This piece of pottery is stoneware. Stoneware is thicker than whiteware and non-porous, which means it is impervious to liquid even without a glaze. This particular piece has a grey glazed exterior, light yellow-white paste, and a brown salt glazed interior. You can see that it has an ‘orange peel’ like interior, which is indicative of the salt glazing process. This glaze is important because it makes the interior even more sealed against liquids and perfect for domestic kitchen use.
Beaumont North Sidewalk Survey: Square Cut Nails
When we find metal from the 19th century it is usually so rusted that it makes identification of what it exactly is very difficult. Nails look like reddish brown tree stems (and can be easily confused with them) instead of the smooth grey metal they actually are. While digging to the northwest of Beaumont Tower we found two surprisingly clean square cut nails. This style of nail was used from the 1820’s to 1910’s. Their great preservation makes them an invaluable resource as we can use them to train students in identification. (To learn more about styles of nails we fin on campus you can read a previous blog post on the subject)
Linton Hall South Sidewalk Survey: Glazed Brick
Throughout campus we find bricks. They were collected from the demolished historic buildings and used to modify the landscape. We find them primarily around the river banks where they would have been dumped to prevent flooding. During this section of the survey we found dozens of bricks. Since we have found hundreds of these, we don’t usually keep them. We do however keep bricks that have been painted or glazed. We found a number of bricks with a grey glazed exterior. During the firing process, this paint was added. This makes the brick impervious to weather and reduces deterioration. Our bricks appear to have primarily a grey salt glaze to them.
Author: Katy Meyers Emery
Over the next three days, Campus Archaeology is going to be doing an archaeological survey of the soil underneath the sidewalks North of Beaumont Tower. As part of the constant campus construction, they are going to be replacing sections of the sidewalks within the Sacred …