Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Building Architectural Hardware at Fort St. Joseph

Greetings everyone,
My name is Stephen and I major in Anthropology and Spanish at Western Michigan University. I began the “Anthropology in the Community" course here at WMU back in January this year. Since learning about ways to engage the community with anthropology, I've done considerable amounts of studying for this purpose. The topic I chose to focus on in this course is artifacts from architectural hardware found on the site of Fort. St. Joseph. What artifacts have we found? Where did they come from? Historic research and archaeology is bearing that out for us.
The French settlers in the region built their homes using familiar techniques. Their houses consisted largely of wooden posts stuck in the ground or stone foundations as a perimeter. The spaces between the posts were filled with stone and mortar, called pierrotage, to finish the walls. A mixture of clay and straw, bousillage, filled the gaps in framing to insulate and protect the wood from decay. Traces of this mixture have been found at Fort St. Joseph. 
Bousiallage was made on site and there is plenty uncovered at the fort.
Window glass has also been uncovered at the site. Archaeologists know the glass found is window glass because they can distinguish flat window glass from curved container glass. The windows used at fort St. Joseph were not made at the fort, but in Britain or France and transported across the Atlantic and then through a long trade network of canoes. The glass was shipped in small panels to avoid breakage en route.
The widespread use of metals in architecture at Fort St. Joseph is shown by the noticeably high frequency of hand-wrought nails that have been recovered.
Hand-wrought nails are four sided and taper toward the tip.

Besides the high frequency of hand-wrought nails, other types of metal artifacts have been found in smaller numbers. Door hinges found on the site were used to secure doors onto frames so they could open and close.  Pintles were a device on which the hinge of a door pivots and escutcheons were plates used to cover keyholes. Hook and eye latches were simple hooks that were fastened onto doors or window shutters and latched onto metal rings in the frame to keep the door or shutter closed. Finally, door latch catches were fastened to frames so that the latch bar of the door stayed shut.
All of the architectural hardware found on the site tells us how the inhabitants built their homes, what they used in them, and where those things came from. After a semester of Anthropology in the Community, I obtained a greater understanding of what’s going on at Fort St. Joseph and much will be learned soon by the community at large!

Stephen Staten

1 comment:

Dealnity said...

Fantastic post - Great explainations and thinking.I'm looking forward to what you have for us next..!