Wednesday, July 11, 2012

First full day of excavation

Wednesday was our full day of excavating our 1x1 m units at the Lyne Site. One of the major challenges some pit partners faced during excavating was keeping the floor leveled. My pit partner and I went from 3cm AD (Above Datum) to 5cm BD (Below Datum) and we were struggling to keep our floor leveled and our walls nice and straight.
The second highlight of my day, besides finishing excavating Level I in my unit, was seeing the mole that built a tunnel through my unit!  
White seed bead found in one of the units.
After lunch, a few of the units were able to finish excavating Level I, many at 10cm BD, and beginning to excavate Level II. When filling out a level sheet, you need to be very detailed so anybody who looks at your data are able to picture what you excavated precisely where each item was located when found.
Some of the finds today included two .5cm pieces of earthenware, a small piece of ceramic, small bones, and a white seed bead.
Lecture with Doug Scott.
Each Wednesday night, the field school attends lectures on varying topics related to Archaeology. Tonight’s lecture was at the Niles District Library. The lecture was titled Shot and Shell  Tell the Tale presented by weapons expert Doug Scott. Scott discussed Battlefield and Conflict Archaeology and how one needs a comprehensive artillery analysis in order to comprehend the roll the weaponry had in battle. Examples of this type of Archaeology included the USS Arizona submarine that was found many years after the bombing at Pearl Harbor. The study of Battlefield and Conflict Archaeology is only about 30 years old and continues to grow more popular.
Tomorrow, a staff member and field school student are going to be at French Market. If you have any questions about the project or about our summer camps, please feel free to ask us at French Market tomorrow!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Site Clearing, Accomplished.

Hello readers,
Clearing the Fort site
Today is the second day that the archaeological field school was out at the dig sites. Currently the archaeological work is centralized at the Lyne site while clearing is still in progress at the Fort site. This morning we blazed a trail to connect the sites and then spent the majority of the morning clearing the trail and then cutting through the tall grass at the Fort site. During this time a survey crew also mapped out each pit groups individual dig sites and soon after lunch we were able to start excavating!
I have a new found appreciation for the skill of keeping the excavation pit neat and level. To keep the bottom of the pit neat and the sides straight down is extremely difficult. The large density of roots do not help matters by any means. I think my pit is possibly the messiest by far but the two medium sized rocks, mole tunnels, and extremely dry soil do not make the going any easier.
Dr. Nassaney teaching proper techniques
There are some cool artifacts being found already though, we are not even done with our first level but we are already finding artifacts all over the dig site. Most of the artifacts are extremely difficult to identify when they are still in the pit. First we have to dig in our pit and then put the dirt that was excavated into a 1/8 inch screen to safely dispose of the dirt and identify possible artifacts.
Today my pit partner and I uncovered some low fired pottery pieces possibly made by Native Americans, charcoal fragments, charcoal byproducts, and a .22 caliber lead bullet. All that and we are not more than 5 cm down in the soil. In other pits people are finding bone fragments, glass pieces, and roots. The large amount of roots in close proximity to the artifacts raise the question of the artifacts being disturbed but it is still too soon to tell.
Happily eating dinner
After a long day at the field and a quick clean up we were fortunate enough to have our dinner provided by the Fort St. Joseph Historical Association. It was very delicious and appreciated by everyone in the field school. I know I ate far more than I should have but after a long day of hard work everything just looked too good to pass up. The people were beyond welcoming and a joy to talk to as well as get to know.
During lab today we are working on getting artifacts sorted out and identified. Some people are working on learning how to enter artifacts into the database, some are screening and picking out artifacts, and some are also working on getting everything sorted for the French Market. As of yet we are not working with artifacts found from the sites this year but we should be able to soon. It will be interesting to see what will be discovered and what we shall be able to learn from it. I am sure that tomorrow will be just as intense and informative as today so stay tuned.

Archaeologists Move In!

Our move to Niles today was a success! We came into town around 10 o’clock and were settled into our house by about noon. The house seems to be more than enough for us with room for us to have our own living space, lab area, and a kitchen.  After getting settled in and eating lunch we took a drive to the Fort St. Joseph site. We met with Prism Environmental Services and learned about the process of taking soil samples and what they will be testing those samples for. We also met Juan Ganum and discussed plans for the site this year. We then continued with a tour of the site seeing the fort site, the granite cross marking Father Allouez’s grave, the rock across the street with the Michigan historic sign, and finally the Lyne site. Following our tour we started to get to work.
Alex, the leader of our clearing crew.

 Today we were able to clear a path to the Lyne site and an area for our excavation for the next few weeks. This week is also the beginning of the Public Lecture Series on Wednesday at the Nile District Library at 7pm with Dr. Doug Scott who will be presenting on “Shot and Shell Tell the Tale: Some New Interpretations from Military and Battlefield Archaeology.” This Thursday we will also have a booth at the French market. We would love to meet more of the public so come on over! Keep checking in for our daily updates, and we hope to see you soon!
Joe teaching students how to use the total station.