Thursday, July 19, 2012

Open House Schedule is Now Available!

Hello Everyone,

We just finished up another busy week in the field. We had some adverse weather conditions (heat, rain, humidity...) but our crew handled it like pros with few complaints.

We're also working on preparations for our Open House which will be held at the dig site in Niles, August 11-12, 10am-4pm. Here's a sneak peak at the schedule of events and all of the fantastic living history participants who will make this event something to remember. Mark your calenders, we hope you'll be joining us.


Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project
Open House Schedule 2012

Saturday, August 11

10:00 AM
Opening Inspection and March to Fort Site          Location: Encampment

10:30 AM
Dr. Michael Nassaney-Archaeology Update         Location: Stage/Stage Area

11:00 AM
Colonial Dancers                               Location: Stage/Stage Area
Voyager Run Competition            Location: Encampment

11:30 AM
Kevin Gladysz-Guns of New France, 1700-1759                  Location: Stage/Stage Area

12:00 PM
Celtic Trio-18th Century Music     Location: Stage/Stage Area
Artillery Demo                                   Location: Encampment

12:30 PM
Dr. Michael Nassaney-Archaeology Update         Location: Stage/Stage Area

1:00 PM
Women’s Sewing Circle                 Location: Fort Site
Tomahawk Competition                               Location: Encampment

1:30 PM
Celtic Trio-18th Century Music     Location: Stage/Stage Area
Women’s Sewing Circle                 Location: Fort Site

2:00 PM
Kevin Gladysz-Trade Knives and Axes of New France         Location: Stage/Stage Area

2:30 PM
Colonial Dancers               Location: Stage/Stage Area

3:00 PM
Militia Recruitment         Location: Fort Site

3:30 PM
March from Fort Site to Encampment                     Location: Stage/Stage Area
Encampment Closed for the Day

4:00 PM
Event Ends for the Day

Sunday, August 12

10:00 AM
Opening Inspection and March to Fort Site          Location: Encampment

10:30 AM
Dr. Michael Nassaney-Archaeology Update         Location: Stage/Stage Area

11:00 AM
Colonial Dancers                               Location: Stage/Stage Area

11:30 AM
Public Scholar, Kevin Gladysz                      Location: Stage/Stage Area
Team Tomahawk Competition                   Location: Encampment

12:00 PM
Celtic Trio-18th Century Music                     Location: Stage/Stage Area

12:30 PM
Artillery Demo                   Location: Encampment

1:00 PM
Dr. Michael Nassaney-Archaeology Update         Location: Stage/Stage Area
Women’s Sewing Circle                                                 Location: Fort Site

1:30 PM
Celtic Trio-18th Century Music                     Location: Stage/Stage Area
Women’s Sewing Circle                                 Location: Fort Site

2:30 PM
Colonial Dancers               Location: Stage/Stage Area

3:00 PM
Militia Recruitment         Location: Fort Site

3:30 PM
March from Dig Site to Encampment       Location: Stage/Stage Area
Encampment Closed

4:00 PM
Event Closed

Ongoing Activities
Fort Site
Archeological Dig
Artifact Displays
Faunal Analysis
Children’s Interpretive Archaeology
Tea Tent
Militia Sign Up and Drill

Children’s Area

18th Century Children’s Games:
Ball and Cup

Boat Launch

Canoe Rides by Sarett Nature Center
$3.00 Per Person
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 – 3:30 PM


Militia Encampment
Demonstrations: Cooking, Distilling, Spinning
Merchants: Sheldon Pewter, Antiquity Period Design Ltd., Wm. Booth, Draper

Children’s Voyager Run

10:30 – 11:00 AM
1:00 – 3:00 PM

10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
1:30 – 3:00 PM

Fort Saint Joseph Archaeology Open House Living History Participants

The Northwest Territory
The Northwest Territory Alliance (NWTA) is an American Revolutionary War reenactment organization located in the Midwestern United States. It has over five hundred members from states as far west as Iowa, east to Ohio, north to the Canadian border and south to Tennessee. "We are non-profit educational organization that studies and recreates the culture, lifestyle, and arts of the time of the American Revolution, 1775-1783. We strive to duplicate the uniforms, weapons, battlefield tactics and camp life of the era as accurately as possible."

Sheldon Pewter (NWTA Member Merchant)
Pewter jewelry, buttons and reproduction coins

Antiquity Period Designs (NWTA Member Merchant)
18th Century American products and custom furniture

Wm. Booth, Draper, Paul & Laura Dickfoss,
Wool, linen and silk fabrics, sewing patterns, knitting goods, notions, needlework kits, and books

Tart Town Tea Tent
Local Niles proprietor, Janine Frizzo-Horrigan, offers teas, tarts and light lunch fare prepared authentically and served in an 18th century tea tent.

Celtic Trio
The Ann Arbor-based trio of Diana Ladio, Fiddle; Allison Haraburda, cello; and Fritz McGirr, percussion, will be providing 18th century folk and dance music for the Open House.  In the 21st century the trio is known as The Moxie Strings with Fritz - They perform their high-energy original sound throughout the state. This weekend their recently released CD of contemporary and traditional tunes is available at the Support The Fort table.  It is also available on iTunes.

Colonial Dancers
Stevensville resident, Noel Bash, mastered 18th century dancing while working at Colonial Williamsburg. She has been teaching dance to this group of Berrien County students (and some parents) for the past 1 ½ years. This is their first opportunity to perform in public. The public will be invited to join in the dancing at the end of their performance.

Sarett Nature Center Canoe Rides
Sarett Nature Center– - voyageur interpreters are offering rides to the public in their replica 35’ Montreal Canoe on the St. Joseph River. The interpreters will offer information about the voyageurs and the wildlife in and on the river.  Rates are $3/person for a half hour ride.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sun, Rain, and Burial Mounds

The crew in front of the state marker for the Sumnerville Mounds       
Calvin fits comfortably in his unit.

         While today wasn’t as hot as yesterday, it was still pretty warm – especially in the late afternoon. The morning started off with sporadic cloudbursts, which were welcome at first, until the post-rain mugginess set in. Fortunately most of the crew preferred some rain and humidity to the blazing heat yesterday. I can honestly say both days were about the same, heat-wise, seeing as my unit is subjected to full sunlight from about 2:30 on. Despite the heat, digging continued, and Calvin and Scott’s pit was finally finished and ready for profiling. Tomorrow they’ll be drawing a profile map of one wall of their unit, to show off the different soil types they came across while digging. Then they get to fill it back up and move on to a new area and a new unit.
            Almost everyone else in the crew is ready to close up their units and move on to a new one. What with the hard, compact dirt of the B horizon (the layer where all of the dead plants and other organic material has leeched out) and the almost complete lack of artifacts from about 30 cm deep down, we’re all ready to start with fresh ground and a fresh chance to find something interesting.
            I did find a piece of lead shot today though, in a dark spot on the West side of my unit. Even though the soil stain probably came from a tree that was burned and decayed, finding such a tiny piece of lead shot was awesome!
Jordan posing for the camera.
            The highlight of the day by far was visiting Barb Cook’s house in Sumnerville. She fed us with some amazing couscous and some kind of brownie with white chocolate chips and cranberries (I don’t think it’s actually a brownie but I have no real words to describe it and its delicious flavors). Barb gave us a tour of the Sumnerville Mounds built by the Hopewell culture about two thousand years ago. She mentioned that Hopewell people may have lived around Cahokia, Illinois, where the famous mound-builders site is located. We saw two of the mounds, though there were six in total in the area, and she described how her husband, while flying above, saw a large horseshoe-shaped mound that had been plowed away. She told us the stories of two archaeologists that had excavated some of the mounds; one man, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, even stole many of the artifacts recovered and resold them. Thanks to Barb and local landowners, however, about six of the burial mounds have been preserved and remain unexcavated.
So many birds!
            After our tour of the mounds, Barb gave us a tour of her barn – and she sure has a lot of animals! Male peacocks, female peacocks, a gaggle of geese, a horde of ducks, two horses, and several cats. One cat, named Oso (Spanish for “bear”) was pretty chubby, and when anyone approached him, he immediately rolled onto his belly and begged with his eyes to be petted. He was very friendly and mellow, and allowed Erica to pick him up. When we were about to leave, he tried to itch his face with his back leg and rolled right over onto his back. If I’d had a camera I could have submitted it to The Planet’s Funniest Animals TV show.
            And last but not least, one of our crew, Sue, came back this morning with a van full of test cereals she brought for us. Three were international brands – one Spanish, and two from South Korea. While we were extremely grateful to Sue for bringing us this bounty, most of all we were a little too excited about cereal boxes with Korean writing and the toys inside.

Jon and Alex playing in the river.
That's all for this week. Stay classy, Niles!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Geophysical Survey

July 17, 2012  

By Tabitha Hubbard
Dr. Sauck conducting geophysical survey

       Today everyone was once again excited to get into the field. This morning Dr. William (Bill) Sauck of the Western Michigan University Department of Geosciences began conducting a geophysical survey of an unexplored area of the Fort site. Previously we cleared the area and placed stakes marking the perimeters of the survey site.  We had two squares for the survey; one was 10 x 10 meters and the other 20 x 20 meters.  Dr. Sauck conducted the survey with a magnetic gradiometer, which detects items with a magnetic reading under the surface. Some items that give off a magnetic reading are iron, fired pottery, and burned stones. Each member of the field school got the opportunity to assist with the survey. We marked out one-meter units across each square. Then Dr. Sauck walked the units with the gradiometer. He did get a few readings; one was specifically located near a tree. We will not know the exact details of the magnetic survey until the data is processed. He will prepare a map showing the results, which will help us to determine locations most likely containing features or large amounts of artifacts.
Stone Projectile Point
            While the survey took place, some people continued to clear the fort site. We still have some clearing to do, but we are steadily working through it. 
Although the temperature reached about 100 degrees today, we found ways to stay cool. The trees in the area mostly shade our site. My pit in particular receives a breeze from the river.  By the afternoon, Dr. Sauck finished the survey and everyone returned to the shade and continued excavating his or her pits on the Lyne site. The deepest unit is at forty centimeters below datum and the shallowest is approaching thirty centimeters. Most people have encountered fewer artifacts at these depths. The most notable find today was a stone projectile point, which dates to the Late Woodland period (A.D. 1000-1700). One group found a stone core at about 32 cm below datum; the stone appears to be the same as some of the flakes previously found.
Now, everyone is relaxing in the air-conditioning working in lab. Some people are washing artifacts from our excavations. Most of the groups have continued to sort artifacts into types, such as bone, flakes, and charcoal. The remaining people are either working on putting data into Past Perfect, which is our data management program. Finally, others are doing household chores, so we keep our living quarters tidy. 
I am looking forward to getting back to my unit tomorrow

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Hot Monday at FSJ

By Scott MacPherson
July 16, 2012
Scott cleaning up his pit
Jordan thinks he found something special!
The first day of our second week began today, as well as the melting of the polar caps. Another hot day here in Niles, but for those of us working on the archaeological site at Fort St. Joseph it couldn’t have been cooler. We arrived this morning to the realization that it had rained in at least one location in Michigan; some of us had water in our pits. It was no big deal and actually turned out to be helpful. After a much needed weekend of rest a few of us realized that we had contracted poison ivy, some much worse than others. Archaeology is not for the faint of heart that is for sure and a rabid case of poison ivy is a small price to pay.
Aside from the oozing lesions and scalding heat, Monday got off as planned and before noon, we were already discovering cultural artifacts. We found a piece of lead shot, flakes from the production of stone tools, wire nails, fire cracked rock and  a couple more pieces of low-fired earthenware produced by Native-Americans. Today was a great way to start the week with the discoveries we have made thus far and we are eager to get out there again in the morning.
Dr. Nassaney talking with our host Stephanie Layman
This morning we all reflected on the previous week and several of us made comments about our thoughts over the weekend and one of the topics that kept coming up among us was how touched we all are by the way the community of Niles, Michigan has welcomed us to their town. The level of genuine kindness and enthusiasm is profound for what we are doing here at the fort site. The community of Niles has reason to be proud of their local history and heritage and they do not hesitate to show that pride. All of us archaeology students from Western Michigan University and beyond appreciate your kindness and hospitality.
Poison Ivy

                                                                                                                                  Thank You!