Sunday, July 17, 2016

Experience in Archaeology

Hello, my name is Connor Frazier. I am a History major at Western Michigan University and am in my senior year. I have found through my academic career that I am very fond of being hands on with history and am absolutely loving this opportunity to conduct archaeological research and gain the knowledge needed to do so efficiently, properly and how to interpret the findings. With the training in archaeology that I will receive along with my bachelor’s degree I hope to gain experience in the field, ideally on Viking settlements and mounds, before attending graduate school.

My partner Nolan and I excavating our 1x1 unit (Photo Credit: Genna Perry)
As many of you already know, this week was the first week of our 1x1 meter excavation units which presented us with a new set of challenges and skills to hone. This was our week of familiarizing ourselves with the site and the procedures for data recovery excavations. Unlike the shovel test pits we had dug in the previous week, this method of excavation would prove to be considerably more detail oriented and slower in pace. Our units began as no more than four stakes in the ground and some string, but soon began to emerge full-fledged excavation units. The process started off a little slow as we began to gain our bearings on techniques of shovel skimming, removing small increments of soil evenly on a horizontal plane, and the different uses of a trowel. The data cataloging proved to be similar in its meticulous nature. With each passing day we began to become more familiar and experienced with the tools and techniques of the excavation process. Our eyes become more trained in detail for spotting the tiniest of artifacts, such as the seed beads and as we uncover more and more materials it becomes easier to identify what the items we find are. The trowel has begun to feel as an extension of my hand, knowing when to be excessively precise in soil removal around artifacts and other objects protruding from the walls and floors and when to use a little more force for lowering the depth of the unit. Our pace has picked up quite a bit in comparison to the beginnings of our excavation units as we
continually sharpen our skills in the field. I feel we are getting into a rhythm which is yielding great results for us in learning more about Fort St. Joseph
Wet screening for my first time (Photo Credit: Austin George)

With the digging in full swing and wet screening already revealing countless unique artifacts, it is truly and exciting time as we dig ever closer to the next soil zone. We are well on our way to uncovering new and valuable information on not only the structural layout of the site but on the daily lives of those people who had called Fort St. Joseph home over 200 years ago.

No comments: