Friday, July 19, 2013

Playing in the Mud



Hello, my name is Stephen; I‘m a Western Michigan University sophomore attending the field school for archaeology here in Niles Michigan. This is my first year here at the field school and it has been splendid. We have approached the end of the third week here in Niles as the Fort St. Joseph archaeological project continues for the summer of 2013. It has been an excellent experience here working to discover what is under our feet, enlightening us with a clearer sense of what came before us. We have done so much all week, not to mention finally we have closed all the units at Lyne site.

Video: "On my way to the Stables"

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Today we arrived at the site of the Fort at about 8:15am and began preparing it for our new units we are starting there for this summer. The units we prepared at the site were previously planned based on already excavated units; units where significant features were found. After a hearth and wall were excavated in the past indicating where a house would be, this happening more than once, archaeologist in the project used detailed  information on French houses in this time period and these findings to produce where the rest of the houses are most certainly to be encountered. This is where we come in. I had quite a refreshing day today working at the Fort site.

As one portion of us closed up Lyne site I did very nice work in the mud. Not even half way into my time out in the field I had the job of walking out into the wet, mucky bank of the St. Joseph River to place the end of the water pump that we needed. All this came about because I happened to be the only one in high rubber boots today. I had water in my boots all day in the field, even after pouring them out. To add to these watery adventures John and I hosed down the trench under the tetrapod screen and later dug out a path for the water to flow back into the river. When all the hosing and trench work was done all began on our new units.

It was pretty hot and humid outside today and we were interrupted from digging for a bit by a passing rain cloud. After the rain it got even more humid and hot to where we had more breaks in-between work to get in the shade, hydrate and rest before going back to the units. What was different about the Fort and Lyne site is that Lyne site is very shaded while the Fort site is in the path of sun. This is definitely a new environment to adapt our work to.

We found only modern artifacts in the first shoveling of our units. There were mostly pieces of glass found in each unit. We didn’t wet screen this time because we are only at the beginning layer of alluvium soil, this is not so much culturally significant when it comes to soil levels. My unit partner is Seth and we’ve got our unit floor pretty level at the base, this is something I feel good about when working on a unit. After spending the first day on our new units we packed up, freshened up and went off to the Drolets' where we had a pool party. The party was great and we had delicious food there. I can remember the tortillas, baked beans, and pulled pork sandwiches very well. All in all this was a splendid day and has been a splendid week for us here for the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project.

Video: "Pool party at the Drolets'"


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-Stephen Staten

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