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.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Oh So, You Found an O-So?
Hi folks, Genevieve here again.
As you may have heard, due to the level of the river, we have moved our
operations back to the Lyne site on the terrace near the boulder. Although we
very much enjoy working on the floodplain, this is an exciting time for the
field school. Each field season the students start excavations at the Lyne site
in order to help us gain knowledge about artifacts, learn the technique by
working in smaller units, and learn how to find information from the artifacts
we find. The length spent excavating on the terrace every year is about a week,
which isn’t long but gives everyone enough time to do at least one unit.
Luckily this year we are able to spend more time on the terrace which gives us
an opportunity to investigate, since 18th century life at the Lyne
site is still somewhat of a mystery to us. What we do know is that it was a
place for Native Americans since we have found an abundance of Native American
pottery, stone tool fragments, and small pits used for smoking hides. It is an
amazing thing that we are able to get in almost three times the amount of work
on the terrace this year so that we can learn more about it and to see how we
have grown as archaeologists.
Message from a bottle (photo by Aaron Howard)
As we learn more about the Lyne
site, we are always finding modern artifacts. One thing that always stumps
people is how old something has to be in order to be an artifact. The thing is
that an object doesn’t have to be very old at all. Everything that we find at
any given site and at any given depth can tell us something about the people
that lived or visited a particular place and for what reason. Shortly after
starting excavations at our new units on the terrace, about 5 cm below datum,
my partner and I encountered a glass bottle that was completely intact from
what we could see of it sticking out of our eastern wall. The curious thing was
that it still had a decently legible label on it. After troweling around it and
brushing off the glass bottle, we were able to read the letters “O-So” printed
on a red and white label. Pretty much everyone was confused by the brand and
hadn’t heard of it, except for one. A camper from that week, named Curtis,
recognized it right away as an “O-So Good Beverages” bottle that was made
fairly local and was a soda pop distributing company that stopped production
around the 1960s. Sure enough, we were able to look it up and find out that he
was right. We had ourselves a modern artifact.
1960's era O-So bottle
According to homersoda.com, the “O-So”
Company was originally famous for their 8 oz bottles of “O-So Grape” flavor and
was established in 1946 out of Chicago, IL. The company expanded throughout the
40s and added a whole line of soda flavors to their brand, creating the slogan
“O-So Good” and “O-So Delicious”. This specific bottle was most likely from the
1960s, because of its shape and style. As Dr. Nassaney always says, if it looks
like a good camping place now, people probably thought the same thing many
years before. This bottle could have come from someone camping in the woods
around the 1960s, it could have come from people fishing in the river off the
side of the bank, or it could have been tossed here by someone along their way.
Regardless of how it got there, this bottle can tell us information about the
person who deposited it there. It can tell us the time period, location,
popularity of the brand, and many other things. Even though we are specifically
looking for 18th century artifacts, we are still fascinated by
everything we find along the way. Artifacts are artifacts not for their
monetary value or age but because of the knowledge they can bring