Monday, July 11, 2016

Our First Week of Digging!

Hi everybody, I’m Maureen Massie, an anthropology major and a senior at Western Michigan University who will graduate this December.  My main interest archaeologically speaking is the archaeology of gender, I love learning the stories of women from the past.  This is my first summer working on the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project and I have had an exciting start to my new adventure!
Our first day, after moving and getting settled in, we headed to the Lyne site to clear the area and do some surveying.  As mentioned in previous posts, we started a new locus this year (locus 4) that is located on an island which the team had to cross a log to reach.   Unfortunately, I lost my footing on the way back and ended up going home with one soaking boot.  This of course did not squelch my appetite for archaeology though!  Later in the evening we visited the Sumnerville Mounds where Dr. Nassaney explained to us the significance of that site.
The second day began pretty rainy, so instead of starting our morning in the field we watched videos of previous summer excavators and learned about French colonial architecture from Dr. Nassaney.  Next, we traveled into town to see the Niles Museum and had a tour of the Chapin Mansion.  I was awed by all the ornate details that were put into every part of the Chapin’s home!  After lunch, we drove to the Lyne site and before beginning digging we took part in a cleansing ritual which consisted of a smudging and scattering tobacco on the site with the help of our good friend Seth Allard to show our respect for the indigenous peoples who habituated the area in the past.  Digging began smoothly after that, and all the groups had finished or almost finished their first STP (shovel test pit) by the time we went home.
Working on my first STP! (Photo credit: Genna Perry)
On Thursday, our third day, we continued digging and many groups went to their second and third STP.   Groups found pottery, flakes (even a large cortical flake near the river), FCR (fire cracked rock) and many more signs that there was definitely evidence of prehistoric and historic human activity in the area. As mentioned in a previous post we were aided in search for history by Dr. William Sauck, a geophysist who used a magnetometer and carefully measured grid lines to survey the area for any geophysical anomalies which indicate places that should be explored later.  When we came back from the site in the evening, all the students participated in the lab to clean off the artifacts we had found.

Primary flake found at the Lyne Site last week! (Photo credit: Genna Perry)
The final day for us this week, Friday, we headed out across that log knowing our time on the island was coming to a close.  We started and finished more STPs, finding plenty of other artifacts, including a large sherd of cord-marked pottery, a chert core produced from flaking, an unknown decorative concrete feature, and the leather sole of a child’s shoe.  
In conclusion, we definitely have evidence of historical human activity on locus 4, but our time with STPs on locus 4 in now done for the 2016 season.   The team is moving our search to the Fort St. Joseph site where we will begin to open up 1x1 meter pits and add on to past excavations of that area.  I think I can say for all of us that it was an amazing first week, an incredible learning opportunity and I can’t wait for what we will find out next through our digging!

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