This blog includes updates from the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project sponsored by Western Michigan University in partnership with the City of Niles, the Fort St. Joseph Museum, Support the Fort, Inc. and other community groups. The Project is dedicated to archaeological research, education, community service learning, and intensive public outreach. The Principal investigator of the Project is Dr. Michael Nassaney.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Site Clearing, Accomplished.
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.