Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weekend update!

Lance holding the projectile point.

Hi everyone!

The students and staff are off for the weekend, but I wanted to take the opportunity to keep you all updated about the project. The group polished off the first week of the field session with a great find--a side-notched projectile point (click on the photo for a close-up)! Lance and Abby had a slow morning with few artifacts, and were pleased when this one surfaced. Hopefully we will have some more information about its origins after a bit of research. Other finds included some chert flakes, whiteware ceramics, glass, and an animal vertebrae. Not bad for two days in the field.

Xiaomeng screening for artifacts.

Students have been learning excavation and screening techniques at the Lyne Site and, based on my time at the site, are fast learners! Everyone should be well-prepared for excavations at the fort site in the next week or so.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about my involvement with the project. I first began pursuing archaeology as an undergrad at the University of Toronto and had the good fortune of finding a job in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) close to home in Maryland shortly thereafter. CRM archaeology is conducted in compliance with state and federal laws, and I had great opportunities to work on different types of sites conducting excavations, mapping, writing reports, cataloging artifacts, and much more. I also became a part of the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project which catered to my interest in Public Archaeology. Before long I was enrolled as a Master's student at The College of William and Mary, and am happy to report that I have successfully defended my thesis which deals with public and collaborative archaeologies.

Me enjoying the South Bend 4-H fair!
I am grateful to be a part of the Fort St. Joesph Archaeological Project where as the Public Outreach Coordinator I can really explore my interest in and dedication to archaeology that involves various communities. My time in Niles this far has been excellent: I encounter many great people on a daily basis that are very interested in what the project is doing. Even in my off-time I have found plenty of things to keep me busy, whether it be exploring downtown Niles or heading to South Bend for a baseball game.

See you all around town!

Photo credits Cathrine Davis and Kelley Walter

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's all Greek to me!!!

I get to be the second blogger here at the FSJ Field School. This is my first year participating in the field school. I was really excited when I was chosen to participate this year. I have been learning about Fort St. Joseph and the field school for two years now and I am ready to get my hands dirty. (Get it… we dig in the dirt).
Clearing the site.
I would have to say that not only was today an interesting day but also a very productive day. We started out by heading to the Lyne site which is near the Fort St. Joseph rock. At the Lyne sited we had to clear a bunch of over growth and fallen trees so that we could set up to start digging. It was a lot of work and especially team work, some of the trees we moved took most of us to move. We took a lunch break and cleared for about another hour. At this point we were about ready to set up our units we planned to excavate.

Then the fun stuff began. We received our pit partner assignments and started to dig. It’s a slow process and normally you don’t find too much stuff in the top 5 cm or so that is really interesting, but today was another story. My pit partner Erica and I actually found the first artifact of the season- a stone flake. Something so small that many people would most likely think it was another stone, but to us it meant a lot more.

For those of you who do not know, when I talk about this stone flake it is basically a piece of rock that is broken from another rock while trying to produce a stone tool. Stone tools first show up in the early Paleolithic (about 2.5 million years ago) and were still used by many of the natives that lived around Fort St. Joseph. This gives us more proof that there was interaction with natives or at least they were around the area at some point in time.
Erica and Amanda with the first artifact of the season!

Though this flake is about the size of a dime, I am thoroughly excited. I mean, how many people get to say that they get to play in the dirt for a job (as we joke)! Who gets to work with things that people haven’t seen in hundreds of years? I mean this small flake we found was a part of something much larger at one point.
My final thought of the night. While today, being the day for breaking ground and getting started was a long and tiring day, what items we’re finding here today could change history.
To all I must now say goodnight as we have another busy day in the field

Photo credits Cathrine Davis

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Hello Fort St. Joseph followers! I have the privilege of being the first student blogger of the 2011 field season. I’m Cathrine Davis, and I major in Anthropology at Western Michigan University. I have been an Adult Summer Camper for two previous seasons with the project, and now that I have completed my first year at WMU, I am happy to return as a member of the field school this summer. In addition to being a student, I am also the site photographer. I hope that my unique perspective as a student will be expressed in my photos and allow all of you to share in the excitement and experience of myself and my fellow students this season.

Today we arrived in Niles, many of us for the first time, and set up headquarters at Niles High School. (We are already in the paper!) Overall we are happy to have these facilities as housing this season and I for one would like to thank the community for allowing us to live here. After settling in, we toured the monuments along Bond Street, the Fort site, and the Lyne site. The Lyne site will be our work for the next week or so, commencing with clearing the site and setting up units tomorrow. The site itself is located on a terrace above the St. Joseph River, and has been excavated in previous seasons. It was a new experience for me, because I have only worked at the Fort site as a camper. The previous excavations at this site have turned up numerous smudge pits, small holes filled with carbonized corn cobs (They preserve because the cobs are burnt while they are still green to produce smoke) used most likely for tanning animal hides. We have decided to turn our attention to a different region of the site this year. Hopefully we will recover some new and interesting information as the excavation process progresses.
The group at the Summerville Mound Site.
After touring the sites and the Fort St. Joseph Museum, we were grateful for a wonderful home cooked meal provided by Barb Cook, a long time supporter of the project and member of Support the Fort. After dinner, she told us a little more about the history of the region and showed us the Sumnerville Mound Site, Hopewellian mounds from the 1st-4th centuries AD. Myself and the other students look forward to letting you in on more of our experiences so STAY TUNED!


Photo credit Cathrine Davis

Monday, July 4, 2011

Gearing up for the digging season!

Hi all,

This year we thought it would be a great idea for the Fort Saint Joseph (FSJ) field school students to help maintain a blog during the field season. This way the students can practice sharing what they have learned with the public, and our volunteers and fans can stay informed about our progress! This site will also be used to post information about upcoming events.

Please check back regularly for updates, and I look forward to seeing everyone in the field and at the Open House.

Public Outreach Coordinator