Friday, July 7, 2017

First Days in the Field!

Hello everyone! My name is Hailey Maurer and I am very excited to be a field school student for the first time this summer! The 2017 field season has officially begun and anthropology students from universities throughout Michigan have gathered in Niles with the hope of making dazzling archaeological discoveries. We have successfully moved into our new living space and are continuing to adjust to the blessings and challenges that come with living and working communally. Fortunately, we share a love of archaeology and have bonded over our shared excitement and eagerness to enter the field.
On Wednesday afternoon we had our first opportunity to enter the field and begin learning the intensive processes associated with archaeological field work. A large portion of our first days in the field was spent clearing paths through brush and locating areas of interest. Points which had been mapped and marked in previous field seasons were located and used for reference in the process of identifying new points in an area of interest. This area, which lies to the south of the floodplain, has not been investigated in previous field seasons. As such, the investigation of this area began with the digging of a series of shovel test pits (STPs) to determine whether or not further investigation at the site might yield valuable information or help to answer important research questions. The STPs we have begun digging at this site have already yielded a number of artifacts including flakes, charcoal, and lead shot. The process of digging these STPs has also been valuable as it has been many students’ first opportunity to excavate, screen for artifacts, and make archaeological discoveries.
In the coming weeks, following the completion of the STPs at the newly defined site south of the floodplain, we will be moving on to excavate more thoroughly at the floodplain. Because the floodplain has been investigated in past field seasons, we have begun consulting a compilation of field notes from previous seasons, maps, and other reference materials in an attempt to determine the best locations to place this field season’s excavation units. This summer is off to a great start and I am excited to see how it progresses and what we discover!
Field school students taking direction during the first day of field work.

Here we are pictured using the total station to determine points of interest.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Off to Niles!

Hi everyone! My name is Mallory Moore and I am the new Public Outreach Coordinator for this season of the Fort St. Joseph Archaeology Project! I am currently an M.A. student of Anthropology at Wayne State University and this is my first year working with the project. I am helping to coordinate our effort with the local community and promote the project throughout the town of Niles, Michigan. We are very excited to get things moving forward this year! Our theme for this season is “Community Partnerships: Building Meaningful Connections Through Archaeology” which will be very apparent through our efforts in the Lecture Series and the Open House! This season has already come underway with our 13 brilliant students! This past week we began by practicing theirs field skills during our orientation. The students worked on perfecting their skills in Total Station, 1 x 1m and 2 x 2m unit plotting, and Right-Angle mapping so they will be good to go when we reach Fort St. Joseph. We are very excited to get things underway this season as we head to Niles on July 5th!

(Student Practicing Right-Angle Mapping at Orientation Photo Credit: Anne Volpe)

This year we have 4 new speakers coming to participate in the Lecture Series, which takes place every Wednesday from July 12th to August 2nd. The first one is Dr. Jonathan Bush, a Professor of English at Western Michigan University. His lecture is titled “Conversations and Collaborations; Objectives, and Obligations: Building and Sustaining Meaningful University-Community Partnerships in Context” and will take place on July 12th. The next lecture takes place on July 19th by Dr. Sonya Atalay, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst! Her lecture is titled "Braiding Knowledge: Community-Based Archaeology with Turkish and Native American Communities". The third lecture is by Dr. Beverley Smith, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan-Flint. Her lecture takes place on July 26th and is titled “Negotiating Multiple Communities Surrounding(Literally and Figuratively) the Stone Street Recovery and Repatriation Project in Downtown Flint, MI”. Last but not least, our final lecture takes place on August 2nd by Dr. Dean Anderson, the Michigan State Archaeologist. His lecture discusses “Archaeology and Communities, Past and Present”. We are all very excited for what these amazing lecturers have to say!

Finally, our biggest event of the season is our annual Open House weekend, which takes place August 5th and 6th!  This is an event you will not want to miss! With a Living History experience, an Outdoor Museum exhibit, and the opportunity to interact with the students conducting our current excavations and observe some recently discovered artifacts, there is surely enough going on to interest the whole family! We look forward to seeing all of our old friends this season as well as making some new ones on our journey to learn more about the past! Make sure to keep an eye out for future blogs throughout our season!