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, August 8, 2017
The Big Shebang!
all, it’s Meghan again! All of us at the archaeological field school are so thankful for your love and support at the Open House. The Open House is truly a culmination of the staff and student’s
hard work throughout the semester as we invite the public to
visit the site and become immersed in the 18th century. We invited re-enactors, who helped us to display and explain the life of an 18th-century
French voyageur, tradesmen, and Jesuit priest among others, as well as the Sarrett Nature Center, who provided voyageur canoe rides along the St. Joseph
River. We invited members of Fernwood Nature Center who displayed animal pelts
akin to the animals uncovered during our excavations. Next to Fernwood, Dr.
Terry Martin displayed and explained different types of animal bones found at
the Fort St. Joseph site. My fellow students kept busy providing tours of the
entire site, showing kids archaeological techniques, discussing our recent
finds at the artifact cases and pit tours, and demonstrating the wet-screen procedure.
of my weekend was spent giving pit tours, working the artifact case, and demonstrating
wet screening techniques. My favorite place to be at the Open House was the pit
tours. It was wonderful to show the public all the hard work my colleagues had
put into their units. I was even more excited to show my own unit to the
public, as well as my family and friends who have supported me this summer.
unit is N24 W11, alias Bertha, and this unit is a section of house four.
A worm's eye view of Bertha.
was opened because we were trying to intersect one of the fireplaces within
the proposed blacksmiths’ quarters. I loved explaining to the public how the
archaeological evidence from this summer and previous summers helps us to
determine what an area may have been used for or what an area may have been in
the 18th century. Fort St. Joseph does not have blueprints or maps
of where the buildings were placed, or even how many buildings were at the fort.
Therefore, all of the work the students and staff put into their excavations
helps to determine the size of the fort and all of its functionalities.
am thankful to be part of an archaeological project that is community-based. I
enjoy being able to give the Niles’ community a piece of their history back. At
the Open House I had a few people tell me they grew up in the area
and were happy to see excavations happening. The support from the community
allows the Fort St. Joseph archaeological project to continue with their
work. So, thank you to each and every one of you who support our work and for attending
the Open House. We would not be able to do it without you.
Field school squad before going on the canoe ride.
The archaeological field school is now
in its final stretch. The rest of our week will be spent photographing,
mapping, profiling, and backfilling our units. It is bittersweet to see my time
at field school come to a close because I have made lifelong friends. I will
miss our time spent laughing and learning in the field, as well as the late
nights spent in the stable loft playing cards and watching movies. The field
school has been the most influential and rewarding class that I have taken at