The Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program (CAP) works to mitigate and protect archaeological resources on Michigan State University’s beautiful and historic campus. Although the program was officially created in 2007, the first on-campus excavation occurred in 2005. The upcoming academic year (2017-2018) is bringing several big changes to the program: director Dr. Lynne Goldstein is retiring, and Dr. Stacey Camp was recently hired to take over as program director. This means that we’re doing lots of behind the scenes house keeping to make sure that everything from the last 10+ years is in order before Dr. Goldstein’s retirement. Additionally I’ve been serving as the campus archaeologist since 2015, and will be stepping down after May 2018 (when I will hopefully graduate!). That means I need to also have all of my materials well documented and in order so that the transition to the next campus archaeologist goes as smoothly as possible.
So, what does that means for me today? Today I’m working on a photo book documenting the last two years of CAP activity and projects. We distribute this book to university administrators, deans, board of trustees, etc. to highlight the wide variety of work CAP does. Obviously I’m still working on the 2016-2017 book, but below is a sample from the 2015 book.
Making and distributing this book is a great public outreach opportunity, allowing CAP to easily describe our field word, laboratory analysis, and outreach over the past years. My job today is to summarize these large projects into short, simple page length (or less!) descriptions.
Some of the major projects to be included in this years book are:
During the summer of 2016 university landscape services rejuvenated one of the major entrances to campus. Historically several important buildings (Y.M.C.A., hospital, weather bureau, and Station Terrace) occupied this area, so CAP conducted several sweeps of shovel test pits. Testing revealed that most of the northern section of the entrance was highly disturbed, but the southern most portion of the median revealed the foundation of Station Terrace.
That summer the field crew also excavated at two additional locations, an old greenhouse and a botanical laboratory that burned down in 1879.
Food Reconstruction Project
Over the past year several CAP graduate fellows worked to recreate an 1860s meal on campus based on archaeological, archival, and historic cookbook research. Although only photos will be used, check out this short video to learn more:
2017 Field School
From May 30th – June 30th MSU Anthropology undergraduate students returned to the site of Station Terrace (first located during the summer of 2016) to examine more of the building. It was a small group this year, but we were able to excavate six units, and reveal more of the building’s interior and exterior.
The one thing I really wish I could include in the book, but can’t is this video of Dr. Goldstein demonstrating how to pop dirt directly into the screen:
These are just a few of the many projects campus archaeology has completed over the last two years. If you’re interested in learning more, or keeping up with upcoming research and projects head on over to the Campus Archaeology website, or following us on instagram or twitter (@capmsu).