Monday, December 4, 2017

Public Outreach Off-Season

Hello All, my name is Genevieve (Genna) Perry and I have continued my position as the Fort St. Joseph Intern this year. I have been with the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project since 2015 and it has been a great pleasure to watch students as they evolve from new archaeologists that have difficulty distinguishing a rock from a stone flake or a piece of a clay pipe from calcined bone, to becoming those that teach others about these things. Thankfully, many of these new teachers of archaeology also continue on to do lab work in the off-season. Apart from artifact analysis, inventory, digitizing field-notes, artifact photography, and creation of promotional documents, the other essential part to being a lab student is helping keep our public outreach alive. 
Students Meghan and Hailey talking to
Michigan Archaeology Day visitors
We attend several events through-out the year to help educate others, especially children, about archaeology and Fort St. Joseph. This semester, we attended two of those events. One of which was Michigan Archaeology Day, which is held in Lansing, MI at the Michigan Historical Museum. This event hosts projects and universities from around the state to focus on and highlight the archaeology that is being done at the local level. This year, a record 1,400 people attended the event. We were able to bring our “Recent Finds” artifact case, the updated site map, the introductory Open House banner, a slideshow demonstrating field activities, flyers and brochures. We interacted with people of all ages, educating them about the specific archaeology that we do at Fort St. Joseph and getting them interested in the various ways we integrate the public during the field season. The event usually takes place at the end of October; stay updated on our social media to find out when it will be held in 2018 and we will see you there! 
Students Kaylee, Meghan, and Hailey teaching Lake
Center Elementary Students about stratigraphy as they
color their artifacts during I <3 STEM Night
The other public outreach event that we participated in this year was Portage Lake Center Elementary I <3 STEM Night. This event hosts multiple STEM programs from Western Michigan University and around the state, such as WMU Chem Club, WMU Engineers, Home Depot, MDOT, KAMSC, Best Buy, Air Zoo, Eaton, among many others. We interacted with children K-5, teaching them about the importance of stratigraphy (layers of soil) and where we might expect to find certain artifacts. We also brought along our “Recent Finds” artifact case, slide show, and brochures to educate parents about Fort St. Joseph. The Project is extremely fortunate to have an active role in not only the community of Niles, but in the community of Kalamazoo as well. A vital component to public archaeology is maintaining a presence within the community to help keep local history in the forefront of peoples’ minds. Stay tuned to hear about the many other events that we will attend in the spring semester, such as WMU’s MLK Career Cruising Event and the annual El Sol Elementary visit to the Anthropology Department! Thank you all for following along with us throughout this semester, we appreciate your support and hope to see you all in the summer!

-       - Genna

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Archaeology Senior Project

Hello, my name is Garrett Mohney, and I am a senior at Mattawan High School. As a senior, I was tasked with finding a field of interest, and completing a project on it. One of the requirements included meeting with a mentor in the field for around 10 hours, where I can learn and experience the subject first hand. Now I found myself with a challenging dilemma: what on earth could I do a project on? After years of intense love for history, an enjoyment of the beautiful Michigan wilderness, and endlessly watching everyone's favorite whip brandishing collector of rare artifacts on the TV, I knew that archaeology would be the perfect fit for a senior project.
One of the artifact bags I helped sort during inventory
with Dr. Nassaney and Kaylee
                  I was very interested in finding out what real Archaeologists do, contrary to running through South American temples. In meeting with my mentor, Dr. Michael Nassaney of Western Michigan University and the Fort St. Joseph Archeology Project, and working with other great students of archaeology, I found that archaeology exists as much in the library and lab as in the field. One of the first things I learned from my project is the concept of careful artifact inventory and preservation. The careful process of identifying calcined bones, lead shot, and trade beads and carefully bagging them with proper labels soon came natural.
                  Additionally, I wanted to know more about what we can learn from archaeology. Through excavation and inventory, we can learn where people lived, how they lived, and what their lives consisted of. Finding a plethora of nails and tools might indicate a blacksmith was around. Finding pieces of building materials, a door hinge, and a foundation feature can indicate a possible location for a house. Other times, archaeology leads to more questions than answers. For instance, finding little to no fishing supplies from a riverside trading post, while another post just north is full of fishing items, leads to confusion and more research.
Lead shot, calcined and unburned
 bone that were sorted and bagged
                  Archaeology is a fun, educational, and thought provoking field that can really benefit all aspects of our lives today. We learn how to be careful, how to think critically, and most importantly, we learn how to better our future by considering the past. Archaeology isn’t just about studying the past, it’s about learning from it. Even as I continue my education beyond high school, the information that I have learned from archaeology has certainly helped shape my interests for the future. After all, who doesn’t want to be Indiana Jones?
 - Garrett

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Digitizing Notes: Another Way to Analyze Archaeology

Hi there, it’s Meghan. I am a graduating senior at Western and I hope to be attending graduate school in the near future! I am one of this past summer’s field school students, and as Kaylee mentioned I am currently working in the lab digitizing field school notes. The process of digitizing notes is not as thrilling as working in the field, but the work is necessary and important.
Keeping detailed notes in the field
The field notes taken for each unit are a way to analyze not only the work completed during the season, but a way to determine the work that will need to be done in future excavations. During one of the first weeks of the field school we had a rainy day and since archaeologists never take a day off work, the field school students were tasked with identifying new units to open during this past summer. We all rushed to the binders full of field notes from previous years, because the binders held information on which units were previously excavated, but more importantly what was excavated from those units and past student’s recommendations. The field notes provided us with a way to examine and identify which units we thought would be viable to open or even re-open.
Transferring paper notes to digitized
notes in the lab
The digitized notes create a new way to access the field notes that can be more easily read. When we are out in the field we all try our hardest to keep our field notes safe and clean. For example, whenever it would rain, our field notes would be the first item my partner and I would grab. However, we are not perfect, so our notes may be illegible or dirt-smeared. Another reason to have a digitized copy of the field notes is that they are a copy, so if something ever happened to the notes, there is a back-up version. Field notes are important in either form, paper or digitized, because they provide a link to the past, so that future archaeologists can continue to work forward.

Once I complete digitizing the field notes I will be helping Kaylee create our newest brochure! I am excited to determine the Project’s recent outcomes and go through all of the photos taken this past summer. The next big event coming up for me is Michigan Archaeology Day, which is October 28th this year at the Michigan History Museum in Lansing, MI. I attended last year and it was absolutely incredible to see so many people excited about archaeology from all over the state and the country! I hope to see all of you there! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fall 2017: Activities Beyond Excavation

Hello everyone! 
This is Kaylee Hagemann, you may remember me from the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Field School of 2017. Right now, I am starting my third year at Western Michigan University. This semester, I am hoping to finish up the classes I need for my Anthropology Major and I am now taking classes for my Religion minor. I also took on the independent study for the field school to continue further research for Fort St. Joseph.
For our field school, we spent the summer digging at the Fort St. Joseph site (20BE23). Once summer is over, we pack everything up and fill our units, that we spent weeks in, with dirt (I miss my unit very much). But, our research does not end once the season turns to Fall. Field students have the opportunity to enroll in an Independent Study to continue researching Fort St. Joseph. Hailey Maurer, Meghan Williams, Genevieve Perry, and I are working with Dr. Michael Nassaney to
continue research and analysis for the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project (FSJAP).
The view of the Archaeology Lab from Moore Hall's entrance
During the Fall semester, we spend most of our independent study time in the lab that is located at Moore Hall on Western Michigan University’s (WMU) campus. Moore Hall is the building of Anthropology, it is where most Anthropology classes and Anthropology professor’s offices are held.
For our independent study, we have a whole list of tasks to complete by the end of the fall semester. We must do inventory on our 2017 field season artifacts, bag the artifacts, digitize our field notes (transferring the information to an online form), create a new brochure,th - 15th), Midwest Archaeology Conference (Oct 19th - 21st), Michigan Archaeology Day (Oct. 28th), and Portage Lake Center Elementary S.T.E.M Night (Nov 30th).
work on blogs, social media, and photographs, mail T-Shirts, and create the Annual Report. We also have a list of events that we intend to attend to represent the FSJAP: Midwest Historical Archaeology Conference (Oct. 13
Boxes of artifacts from Summer
2017 excavation to be inventoried
We are all assigned to complete some of these tasks. I was to do the first blog, create ideas for a new brochure, and work with Dr. Nassaney on the inventory of the artifacts. I did inventory on Tuesday morning of this week. During the summer, the artifacts were separated by object and put in small bags, then those small bags were put in bigger bags that represented artifacts found within that level of a particular unit. Then these bags were put into boxes in order to keep the levels of each unit all together. When doing inventory, we take out a box and pull out one unit level bag at a time, empty out it’s contents, record the information on the tags in an inventory, weigh the artifacts using grams, and make sure the tags are correct and the artifacts are indeed what the tags say they are. So far we have completed inventory on one box and still have several boxes to go. I am finding that I am enjoying doing inventory. I get to see exactly how many artifacts we found (one unit bag had over 500 unburned bones!) and recall all the excitement of discovering an artifact in the field and now being able to study them further and determine what the material is, how it was made, and what it’s function was.
For this independent study, I really look forward to learning more about identifying artifacts and being able to go to the archaeology events.

For all our followers, I wanted to say thank you for staying with us, we appreciate you so much! Have a great day!
- Kaylee