Public archaeology

Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math…and Archaeology?) with the US Ambassador to the UK

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At first I thought I was in trouble. Why else would the US Ambassador contact me? My husband jokingly suggested that I was being recruited to join the long list of archaeologists who have been spies in the Middle East.

Spoiler Alert: No. (and ew.)

I was asked to join 15 other women (and ITN reporter Alok Jha) to discuss women in the sciences. This was inspired in part by the recent #distractinglysexy campaign wherein women posted photos in reaction to extremely sexist remarks by an unnamed Nobel laureate. The point wasn’t so much an attempt to destroy this man’s career as to make the every day sexism in sciences visible by laughing at it. Playing along, I posted a photo of me and Louise Felding in a building at Çatalhöyük.

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I liked the photo because both of us are so absorbed in our work, so completely immersed in figuring out the Neolithic puzzle. Honestly I was probably cussing–there were several burials in that rotten platform and they held us up all season. Sexy? Well, as they say, YMMV.

So I scrubbed myself up, got out the usual business attire/conference gear/that dress that covers most of my tattoos and went down to London. The house itself is a bit funny–very French regency meets American sensibility. Let’s just say, the toilets are gilded. There was actually a lot of incredible contemporary art, but all I managed to get a photo of was the teacups:

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Typical archaeologist, always interested in the crockery.

It was an interesting mix of science communicators and a few scientists in there as well. We all spoke briefly to introduce ourselves, then presented an opportunity and a challenge regarding women in science. While most of the presenters bemoaned the lack of women in sciences, I told them that we have a large amount of women in archaeology, how exciting that is, and how we are foundational to other sciences–providing bridges to computer science and biology in particular, using the examples of the Centre for Digital Heritage and BioArCh at York. For the challenge I mentioned that though we have a lot of women, archaeology & heritage funding was being threatened by both the US and the UK governments and that it was vital to fight for it to continue to provide a link for women to the sciences.


So, as an archaeologist some days you are out in the dirt, being distractingly sexy  doing research and some days you are drinking out of gilded teacups with Matthew Barzun and talking about how important it is that women are involved in science.

I’m not going to lie though, the best part of the day was meeting these trowelblazers:

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Some news from Public Archaeology 2015

On Saturday 12 December, Lorna Richardson and I are leading a walk called Narratives and Counter-Narratives: a line through contemporary London which will mark the beginning of the end of the Public Archaeology 2015 project. The event will be investigating the archaeology of austerity, using a walk from Canary Wharf to Westminster to visit a number of sites that are undergoing different forms of regeneration and which offer different reactions, some good, others not so good, to the austerity measures we see imposed by central government and the situations that led to the promotion of austerity in the first place. The event will be multi-disciplinary with a range speakers from different backgrounds involved over the course of the day.

I couldn’t post about this on Day of Archaeology because I was out on site, but we got the news through on Friday that the walk has been accepted as a pre-conference event for the Theoretical Archaeology Group meeting taking place in Bradford on 14-16 December. This is great news for us as it will allow us to create online content around the walk – Tweets, videos, Vines and so on – and hopefully start conversations that will carry over into the conference proper. It also means, of course, that people can come and walk with us to get fired up for TAG which, with its theme of Diversity, has a good few political sessions to get stuck into.

The walk will start at Canary Wharf DLR station at 10am and finish in a Westminster pub at 8pm with a reading of the Riot Act. Details and timings of intermediate stops will be published in advance. Follow and/or contact @pa2015infowith any questions.

riot act wording

A Day in the life of CITiZAN Community Archaeologists

CITiZAN is the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeology Network. We’re Megan and Andy, the team’s Northern office. Between us we cover the English coast, running between the Scottish border and the Dee on the west coast and the border to the Wash on the east.1

Discussing coastal erosion with the Historic England’s inspector for the World Heritage site of Hadrians Wall on the coast of the Solway Firth

Over the last few days we have been travelling down the north-western coast of England from Cumbria to Lancashire; staying in Maryport and Morecambe. Along the way we’ve been stopping off to explore exciting intertidal and coastal archaeology. Our preparation for the Day of Archaeology started on Thursday with Andy whizzing off to the record office. Meanwhile, Megan went off to site for a reccy ahead of a guided walk around the 7th-century chapel.


The 7th-century St. Patrick’s Chapel on the dramatic coast of Morcambe Bay

Andy spent most of the day searching out historic records; seeking 19th century and early plans of the area for a community training session in map regression. Among the things he found was a list of fruit trees planted by the rector of St Peters (the successor of the early medieval chapel) recorded in the list of Birth, Burials and Marriages for 1773.

Meanwhile Megan was out at the site planning her tour. The guided walk started at Rectory Gardens Wood, looking at the terraces where the rector had planted his apple, plum, pear and cherry orchard. She then moved on to look at Mesolithic settlement sites and Second World War practice trenches on Heysham Head before heading to the early medieval St Patrick’s Chapel, a National Trust owned site with unique, enigmatic rock cut graves. She finished at the 10th century St Peters Church, where several medieval cross bases and a hogback stone nestle amongst Post-medieval gravestones.


Megan discusses the Mesolithic settlement of Heysham Head on her guided walk

The Day of Archaeology itself started with a big fry-up before heading to St. Patrick’s Chapel, to kick off a two-day building recording event. The 7th-century chapel overlooks the stunning Morecambe Bay and although it stands on a sandstone promontory, a good 10 metres above mean sea level, is at serious risk of erosion and destruction with several metres of the headland having disappeared since the turn of the 20th century.

The morning was spent teaching interested member of the public the theory of archaeology recording; off-set planning, buildings recording, taking levels and photographs. It was a lot of information for our novices to take in but everybody enjoyed themselves.

In the afternoon we put the classroom sessions into practice. There was a chance to plan the rock-cut graves; some with head sockets and others with indications of slab coverings. The graves proved a little bit challenging but our volunteers ploughed on. Next they moved on to drawing an elevation of the chapel, much of it ruinous, with the west wall completely gone. But a fantastic Anglo-Saxon doorway in the south wall remained. Intrigued by the arched door, with three similar doors reconstructed in St Peters Church, they discussed it with Paul Gwilliam, our building’s expert.  Debating whether the doorway was in its original position or whether it was moved during the early 20th century reconstruction of the chapel.


Our volunteers record the enigmatic rock-cut graves

All these processes are how a buildings archaeologist would go about recording a site such as St. Patrick’s Chapel. Our volunteers now have the skills to record their medieval church and monitor the erosion caused by Morecambe Bay.  The three CITiZAN offices, based in York, Portsmouth and London will be teaching archaeological skills on beaches, cliff tops and intertidal zones around England in the next three years.  Hopefully every training session will be as fun as today!

Making a Future for the Past in the Virtual Curation Laboratory

by Bernard K. Means, Director

Today was a busy one for the Virtual Curation Laboratory. I worked to finalize our move of the lab from its old, crowded location to a new, not quite as crowded location. I also set up two of our 3D printers to print artifact replicas for an exhibit opening at the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) in less than two months.  The artifact replicas will add an interactive component to their new archaeology exhibit entitled Exploring Virginia, which is not confined to displaying artifacts just from Virginia.  For this exhibit I printed today a Japanese porcelain hand grenade, which dates to World War II, two copies of a scarab bead from Egypt, one copy of bomb fragment from Nathaniel Bacon’s attack on Jamestown, and an 1861 gun lock from a Springfield rifle dating to the Union Army’s occupation of George Washington’s Boyhood home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, during the American Civil War.  All of these objects were 3D scanned by the Virtual Curation Laboratory.

World War II porcelain hand grenade from Japan. 3D scanned at the Virginia War Memorial

World War II porcelain hand grenade from Japan. 3D scanned at the Virginia War Memorial

These objects will be shipped to the VMNH on Monday for painting and inclusion in the aforementioned archaeology exhibit.  Brenna Geraghty, a Virginia Commonwealth University student, details this process and her role as a summer intern at VMNH in her Day of Archaeology post. A few artifacts were also printed at VMNH yesterday and the day before when I met with VMNH’s Curator of Archaeology Elizabeth Moore to talk about final exhibit needs.

Newly printed Aztec dog figurine replicas "watch" a panel of rock art.

Newly printed Aztec dog figurine replicas “watch” a panel of rock art.

I also prepared the lab today for a visit from the Urban Archaeology Corps, a group of Richmond-area high school students who are spending the summer learning about all aspects of archaeology, from field to laboratory, and helping make their community aware of the archaeological resources that exist below their feet.

I hold up a wig hair curler replica from George Washington's Ferry Farm. It was used by an enslaved servant to style a wig worn by one of George Washington's brothers.

I hold up a wig hair curler replica from George Washington’s Ferry Farm. It was used by an enslaved servant to style a wig worn by one of George Washington’s brothers.

This visit was arranged by the incomparable Courtney Bowles, who was one of the original staff hired when the Virtual Curation Laboratory was established in August 2011.

The Urban Archaeology Corps. Courtney Bowles is in the first row of standing individuals, second from the left.

The Urban Archaeology Corps. Courtney Bowles is in the first row of standing individuals, second from the left.

I was able to discuss with these budding archaeologists why and how we 3D scan artifacts and how I incorporate them into various public programs, such as the July 18, 2015 Day of Archaeology event hosted in Washington, D.C. by Archaeology in the Community, which is directed by Dr. Alexandra Jones.

A young visitor plays chess at the Day of Archaeology event hosted by Archaeology in the Community.

A young visitor plays chess at the Day of Archaeology event hosted by Archaeology in the Community.

Just days before, I also had a display for the Germanna Foundation‘s Day of Archaeology celebration, thanks to the invite of their archaeologist, Dr. Eric Larsen.

Inviting visitors to see 3D printed artifact replicas at the Germanna Day of Archaeology.

Inviting visitors to see 3D printed artifact replicas at the Germanna Day of Archaeology.

In the upcoming months, I will expose a new generation of students to the cultural heritage the world offers through 3D scanned artifacts made by cultural heritage institutions across the globe (including India, where I will travel to next week on a 3D scanning mission).

Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve Documentary Film Series Public Screening

Archaeologists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Heritage Trust Program hosted a film screening of the Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve documentary film series in Columbia, SC, USA for the 2015 Day of Archaeology. Also in attendance were archaeologists who worked with DNR from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology (SCIAA) and the South Carolina Archaeology Public Outreach Division (SCAPOD).

FFHP Film Screening 24 July 2015

Archaeologist Sean Taylor (left) answers questions at the screening of the Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve documentary film series.

The film series documents archaeological excavations, tabby restoration, and public tours that took place at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve during the winter of 2014-2015. The films and supplemental educational resources (lesson plans and vocabulary list) are available for free on the films web page and HD film versions are available through the filmmaker’s website and Vimeo.

Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve Artifacts

SCIAA archaeologists have cataloged over 12,650 artifacts excavated from the site during the winter of 2014-2015, and the number continues to grow daily as more artifacts are analyzed.

Funding for the film series was provided by the DNR Heritage Trust Program, and grants received from the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund and The Humanities Council SC. A survey is provided to gain feedback from viewers.

Tabby Restoration and Documentary Filming

Tabby restoration expert, Rick Wightman fills molds with recently mixed tabby at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve while filmmaker Jamie Koelker documents the process.

The Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve is a 3-acre property owned by the DNR and located in Port Royal, Beaufort County, SC, USA. Situated along the Beaufort River, the preserve contains the remains of a tabby fort built by the British between 1730 and 1734 to defend against possible attacks from the Spanish at St. Augustine, Florida. The preserve acquisition was made possible by a donation of the site from the National Park Service’s Federal-Lands-to-Parks Program and funds from the DNR’s Heritage Trust Fund.

Sean Taylor with visitors at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Heritage Trust Archaeologist Sean Taylor (left) shows artifacts to visitors at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve.

The fort, also known as Fort Prince Frederick, is thought to be the oldest tabby structure in South Carolina and possibly the oldest tabby fort in the Southeastern United States. Provincial scout boats were stationed here periodically. A relatively small fort, it measures 125 feet by 75 feet with an obvious bastion on the southwest side. The eastern wall was lined with a battery and cannon. The interior of the fort held a barracks and a magazine, and was garrisoned by an independent Company of Foot British Regulars until their transfer to Georgia in 1736.

Artifacts in hand at Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve

Nineteenth century artifacts excavated from the Smith’s Plantation component of the Fort Frederick Heritage Preserve.

Computer (arm)chair archaeology

Would you be surprised to learn there are archaeologists who don’t step foot in the field to do their work? *raises hand* I’m one of those archaeologists. Modern technology has added a positive side to what it means to be an armchair archaeologist and I, for one, am thankful.

While my fellow grad students are packing up their trowels, screens and Total Stations, I’m double-checking my Internet connection, booting up Hootsuite and checking my “public archaeology” Google Alert. You see, nearly all of my archaeological work and research is based in the Web. Instead of working in the field and making my own archaeological discoveries, I want to communicate the amazing work other archaeologists do to non-archaeologists.

I will admit, I get jealous of my friends who do amazing things like spend their summers working with Alaska Natives to record sites impacted by climate change. However, I rest easy at night knowing that when they return, I can help folks effectively share with the world the neato frito stuff they’ve done.

A day in my life as an archaeologist includes a variety of projects and tasks. In between looking at hilarious Buzzfeed listsicles I read up on useful ways we can use social media to communicate with people. I also try to share interesting archaeological news on the Archaeology Roadshow Facebook page or help manage the Society for American Archaeology’s Public Archaeology Interest Group Facebook group.

I also spend a lot of time looking at archaeology websites and trying to systematically study and evaluate them. My goal is to develop a manageable way archaeologists can assess their own websites to make sure they the best they can be. With how easy it is for anyone to make a website or a social media account it is critical to learn how to use those tools well. That’s what I want to help with. *fist pump*

My work may not seem as exciting as those fighting off insects in South America or folks who make an intense backcountry hike to reach their sites. But hey, I may get carpal tunnel!

If you want to learn more about public archaeology, follow the #pubarch hashtag on Twitter. There are also public archaeology groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’d also love to talk with you about public archaeology, digital archaeology, communication strategy, and hilarious gifs – let’s chat on Twitter!

Day of Archaeology 2015 | Catching up with the past

Hi, I’m Spence, a freelance archaeologist in England who hovers between commercial fieldwork contracts, supporting community archaeology projects, analysing prehistoric lithics assemblages, and editing the odd journal (e.g. CBA Yorkshire). I’ve a penchant for the Mesolithic period and the intriguing transition to the Neolithic, especially in north-east England where, by the end of the summer, I’ll have thirteen new radiocarbon date determinations for ongoing research (and publication in due course) for the North York Moors; there’s only one recent one today. I’ll perhaps leave that for the 2016 DoA though I am giddy with excitement.


Marden Henge open day

Marden Henge open day

Like some other posts, today is not the usual—although the nature of free-lancing makes for a diverse suite of activities—since the weather is dire and I’m between commercial projects at the moment. That said, July has been a great month to visit some UK Festival of Archaeology events such as the exciting excavations by University of Reading at Marden Henge in Wiltshire. The bigger henge, located between Avebury, Durrington Walls and Stonehenge, is actually about ten times the size (area) of Stonehenge and offers students the chance to hone their fieldwork skills on an annual training excavation. I also managed to drop into the last season of excavations at Roman Binchester in County Durham—utterly astounding Roman archaeology. What’s great about all these events, whether excavations, museums, re-enactments, is the wonderful public turnout. For an archaeologist it’s also like “coming home to the family”, always with indulgence by the project teams who go out of their way to explain what’s happening and why.

Back to today, forward to the past

Lithics! We found evidence for at least Late Mesolithic-Early Neolithic activity (informal photo) with evidence too for Early Mesolithic activity in the direct catchment

So, oppressed by the weather (not that it would stop most commercial fieldwork), and a little under the weather, I’m catching up on a small project that saw field-walking with volunteers earlier in the year. What that means, indoors, is analysing and recording the lithics (mostly flint tools and debitage, and the odd bit of natural of course), their attributes, metrics, and taking photographs as part of a permanent record of what was recovered—both as part of our mini-project and by previous collectors and field-workers who have been generous enough to contribute their finds for recording as part of a cohesive archive.

Light and dark

One of the challenges is that I can’t readily, at this stage, reveal the location of the work. The farmers, like many in the region and nationally, have been plagued by folks who have walked their land without permission, removing finds that will never be publicly shared and so never inform us all about past activity in our region. It’s a place until now, a mix of upland and lowland, that has remained a relative ‘blank sheet’ in terms of evidence for human activity from the end of the last glacial period (Holocene) through prehistory and up to the post-medieval period. The landowners, while absolutely passionate about their interest in the archaeology of their area, are therefore sensitive about public dissemination that might encourage the less savoury activities  of  ‘treasure-hunters’, a minority of folk, who operate in the dark zone and never share their discoveries, even to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Part of our project has been to work with the landowners to mitigate these sensitivities while both being able to feed back our findings to them as well as placing information in the Historic Environment Record (HER) in such a way as to inform future planning and conservation decisions and bona fide research.

Unashamed exploitation of pensioners: mam making flags

This is an area where there is a constant stream of developer applications that are increasingly invading the greenbelt, and so the accuracy of the HER is critical as part of the planning process. Needless to say, what we have found ourselves, together with previous as yet unrecorded fieldwork, does provide a narrative (remember the blank sheet) of human presence from at least the Late Mesolithic into the Neolithic and Bronze Age, pre-Roman Iron Age, Medieval period (12th-15th century pot) right up to the clay pipes, golf ball and a rather lurid red shower cap of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Our aim is to provide a framed finds-case with objects across ten thousand years of activity, a report for the landowners, an academic-quality report, a HER record submitted via OASIS, and an archive (paper, digital and finds) for the local archive-accepting museum (a rare thing these days). We’re mindful of how many finds—alluding to landowner sensitivities—are never recorded, and I know of very many in my research area. Our ‘blank sheet’ landscape is actually full of activity, and risk!

Methods and standards

Line-walking at 2m intervals, flagging all finds: “if in doubt, bag it”

What we did achieve, by way of best practice in fieldwork (here fieldwalking) is 100% coverage of two very large lowland fields, after ploughing and weathering. Line-based fieldwalking at 2m intervals saw the flagging-and-bagging of finds and then their recording with GPS and Total Station to 3D centimetre accuracy and plumbed into the OS National Grid. We can now see clusters of lithics, for example, that might—with permissions of course—merit some further activity such as test-pitting and, in a semi-wetland context, environmental sampling.

Fashionable surveying courtesy of our friends at Solstice Heritage

Unfortunately, the previous fieldwork was on the look-out for later prehistoric and Romano-British material and didn’t have the recording resolution of our current work. Hence, things like prehistoric lithics have only been recording by a general field-location or Grid Reference (albeit with “clusters” of finds noted). We’re now able to place those observations into a far more detailed record using GIS mapping. Moreover, and based on future potential, we can look confidently at new research questions and fieldwork activities that will add a richness to the ‘blank sheet’ where, in reality, every period is attested. How we do archive and communicate that, without encouraging the ‘dark side’, is an interesting journey. What we have done I hope, by way of example in the whole project planning and participation—from research aims through to archive and dissemination—is encourage the well-meaning fieldworkers in our area to buy-in to the benefits of systematic recording and, with our greenbelt at such risk, the importance of placing finds at least into the HER database.

Upland espionage


The spoils of flinters

While well-meaning fieldwork in agricultural areas can see the removal of all or some of the archaeological record without sufficent recording (often only recorded by field and resulting in massive private collections), we’ve a few shady characters who operate in the uplands (moorlands) too—the flinters. Sometimes, but rarely, and by involvement in systematically-conducted fieldwork projects, it is possible to convince these folks of the importance of good recording, expert oversight, or even leaving their finds where they are. Whatever is encountered is always going to be a sample of a sample of a sample. However, the unrecorded removal of artefacts—often cherry-picking the choice pieces in the case of lithics—prevents us even being able to characterise what might be going on, archaeologically. Leaving a small mound of debitage, having removed ‘nice bits’, and doing so without landowner permission, is still all too common.

One message?

If I have one message, as part of this year’s Day of Archaeology, it is to try convince everybody that, beyond the legal aspects of doing anything on somebody else’s land:

  • Our Heritage is ultimately shared, very fragile and loses meaning if it doesn’t have context
  • Understanding our local human past helps build a Shared Narrative
  • That our shared narrative supports a Sense of Place for a community, in space and in time, a value of Our Place
  • That value in Our Heritage makes Our Place attractive to live in, visit, invest in, develop and protect
  • Offers opportunities for Community participation, at any interest level, in projects and activities, and a sense of Wellbeing

Happy Day of Archaeology!

Mesolithic Spence

Website | Blog

How to think like an archaeologist: Youth archaeology in Arkansas

Behind the scenes of Hollywood

Cover of Behind the scenes of Hollywood.















I discovered archaeology as an undergrad majoring in journalism. It’s a good thing I wanted to write, because that’s how I spend a lot of my time as an archaeologist. Recently, I co-wrote a short book introducing high school aged students to archaeology. When people think of archaeology they often envision fieldwork (and Indiana Jones), but archaeologists spend most of their time in the lab and writing up the results of their research, rather than excavating.

Behind the scenes of Hollywood is a little different from most of the books you may read about archaeology. The book follows ten high school students from southeast Arkansas who participated in a 3-day workshop. The workshop lead them through a series of activities that demonstrate the archaeological process from the field to report. The book provides the data to let the reader practice being an archaeologist and reach their own conclusions about artifacts and the site. The reader doesn’t get to dig in the dirt or handle the artifacts, but they think like an archaeologist while doing a series of activities such as examining landscape change on maps, analyzing soil, and setting up an excavation unit.

Analyzing the artifacts.

Analyzing the artifacts.

Many archaeologists recognize that archaeology is more than just digging in the dirt or analyzing archaeological collections. In her new book, Strung Out on Archaeology, Laurie Wilkie underscores that archaeology is more than just research methods. Archaeology is a way of thinking about and living in the world. Archaeology helps people imagine deep time, human interactions, and social change. It puts to use all of the things you learn in high school the Pythagorean theorem, how to ask research question, examine data, see culture change, think about human environmental interactions, and write.  At the end of the day, archaeology requires putting your fingers to the keyboard and telling someone what you learned.

Diving into the Past: Public Archaeology and SCUBA Stewardship

This summer, the Florida Public Archaeology Network and the University of West Florida have been hosting archaeologist-guided public dives on the 16th-century Spanish Emanuel Shipwreck II to help educate local SCUBA divers and promote submerged site protection. These tours have been a wild success and have helped encourage new levels of community appreciation for Florida’s many historical shipwreck sites!

To see all of our wonderful “Archaeologyin3” videos, visit our YouTube page. To learn more about the Florida Public Archaeology Network and the many outreach resources we’ve made available to other archaeologists and educators, visit our website!

Digging and Discovering … on Campus

Here at Michigan State, we have finished the field school, completed most construction-related projects, and are cleaning artifacts, organizing things and preparing for the new school year. I (Lynne Goldstein) am personally doing conference calls and trying to catch up on a variety of things that are due.

Doing archaeology on campus is a great way to train students, engage the public, and make people realize that archaeology is literally under their feet. It is our hope that we not only preserve and protect the campus heritage, but also that we make students, faculty, staff, and the general public aware of archaeology and why it is important.

To that end, the field school was in a great location this year – along the river and right behind the Administration Building. The location was not only lovely and prime territory for duck and goose watching, but it is also a high traffic area, with lots of people – including administrators – walking by daily. Here is a shot I took from the Provost’s office: IMG_1788

And here is our end-of-dig crew shot: IMG_2092

Archaeological work outside the field may sound dull, but it really is not always the case, as I noted yesterday on Facebook:
“Sometimes meetings are very enjoyable. Just returned from a meeting about new campus historical markers, focusing on the “Sleepy Hollow” area. MSU wants to include info on the prehistoric site we found at the edge of the hollow, as well as info the MSU Campus Archaeology Program has on historic sites and events in the area.
After the meeting, we went and inspected a couple of sites, then I visited the Beal Botanical Garden because all of the Eastern Agricultural Complex domesticates were blooming – goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), marshelder (Iva annua), and squash (Cucurbita pepo).”

The Lansing State Journal ran an article this week on archaeology in Michigan, and we are very pleased that we are featured, along with Fort Michilimackinac and others.

The field school excavated a really interesting historic site that was apparently a single dump episode – in 1924, the head of grounds for the campus (also a Professor of Horticulture) remodeled and modernized his house and used the construction debris as fill for a low spot along the river, not far from the house. Everything we found dates from 1890s-1925. Field school students blogged about the work and what they found, and you can find those posts here.

Our regular CAP posts continue, and this link tells you about the outhouse we found which is probably linked to Saints Rest, the very first dormitory on campus. We are very excited about this find because we have been searching for an outhouse associated with the dorm for a long time. Archaeologists like outhouses (well, old ones that don’t smell anymore) because no one goes after anything they dropped into one, and people also often used them as a dump for debris.

We do have some sidewalk work to do on campus, and this often yields really interesting things. The University replaces sidewalks with some regularity (they are now trying to install “green” sidewalks everywhere), and there is often undisturbed stuff beneath the old sidewalks.