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, June 2, 2015
Overcoming Difficulties in the Field
My name is Austin George
and I am a sophomore at Western Michigan University. I am currently an
engineering student but this field school is really making me rethink my major
for several reasons. First when we arrived at the stable we are staying at I bonded
with several of the other students quicker than I thought I would. I have been
more involved and participated in several hands on activities that have made me
think more about archeology. I also feel like all of the students here can
relate with their passion for history which brings us a lot closer together.
The root we pulled out (photo by Erika Loveland)
Last week we moved from
the Lyne site which was our learning site to the flood plain, our final
destination. We were given a new digging partner and that really changed a lot
because we got so used to our first partner and found our strengths and
weaknesses now we had to start over. It shows that sometimes in life things are
going to change but you just have to keep digging. After clearing the site we
were assigned our units. It’s exciting because we got to sit down with the
teaching assistant and look at field notes from previous years as well as the
site map so we had a little bit of a say in where we would be digging. When we
looked at the unit my partner and I were given, we realized it was very near to
a live tree and it had a large stump at the north corner that took up a big
portion of our unit. Seeing this, we were a little let down and not too
positive about starting to dig. We knew from the begging it was going to be
trouble but we were ready to dig and that’s what we did. We thought that the
big root would be our biggest problem but after a few swings of the axe we took
it right out.
The bigger problems are
the large roots that keep appearing. Cutting roots is a very exhausting task
that takes time and wears you out quick. The lower in the unit we go the less
small roots we are finding but we keep finding much bigger ones.
Flooded site (photo by Austin George)
Friday we had a bad storm
pull us out the field early and that’s when the chaos began. It rained for
almost three days which we knew would be a problem since it is a flood plain.
The amount of rain we received brought the river level up far enough to flood
the site. We went down on Saturday to check the site and found out that all of
the units had flooded and there was standing water everywhere. Because of the
flooding, we had to take Monday off and today we worked at bailing out some of
the units. We have to wait for the river and water table to drop before we can
even think of digging. The pumps we have to lower the water table were too
close to going under so we had to pull them out. Hopefully the river gets low
enough for us to dig tomorrow.