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Archive for October, 2009

Hello everyone,

My name is David Lewandowski and I am one of the three interns for the Campus Archaeology Program this fall.  I am a senior here at Michigan State, majoring in Anthropology with a minor in American Indian Studies.  My plans after graduation are to attend graduate school and to ultimately recieve my Ph.D. and become a professor.  As far as grad schools are concerned, I would like to go somewhere in the Southwest.  I have participated in two field schools in the Southwest, Crow Canyon’s high school program and a field school run by Dr. Alison Rautman in central New Mexico, and would love to work there in the future.  This past summer I participated in a field school on the Mohegan Reservation in Connecticut.  This field school was a great experience for me.  I knew very little about the area, time period, and people prior to the field school.  During the Mohegan field school, I was exposed to things that an undergrad wouldn’t usually experience during a field school.  I learned a great deal about the Native communities in Connecticut, along with the varrying views Native people have with regards to archaeology.  The field school was also my first experience in dealing with historical archaeology, which helped to prepare me for my internship with CAP.

I applied to become an intern with CAP because I knew it would be a great opportunity to further my knowledge and experience within archaeology and to meet other like minded people.  I am really enjoying my internship this fall.  So far I have been exposed to so many new things regarding archaeology and the history of Michigan State.  This semester I have been working both in the lab and in the field, and conducting research for my own individual project.  I have also really enjoyed the public outreach that CAP participates in.  I love sharing my knowledge of archeaology with people I meet, which is one of the reasons why I would like to become a professor.  It is also rewarding to share the information that you have uncovered with the larger Michigan State community. 

I have entitled this post “In the Shadow of Beaumont” for a couple reasons.  One reason relates directly to the work that we have done at the College Hall site, which is located where Beaumont Tower now stands.  It was absolutely thrilling to have been a part of the excavations that uncovered the northeast corner of College Hall, the first building built here at Michigan State.  My individual project this semester focuses on College Hall and the area that is now the location of Beaumont Tower.  With our work in the field at this site, research needs to be done with regards to the construction sequences of the site and the histories of the structures that have and currently stand there.  So far, I have been researching three buildings; College Hall, the artillary garage, and Beaumont Tower.  This means that I spend a lot of time in the MSU Archives, which I have come to enjoy.  It is really exciting to uncover the history of a site that you are working at and to be able to compare the written and archaeological records.  With my project on College Hall, I feel like I am continuing the legacy of John Beaumont by further preserving the history, site, and story of College Hall.  Beaumont and his wife donated money to erect Beaumont Tower in order to commemorate College Hall, a building that John had fond memories of.  Many people walk by Beaumont Tower everyday, without knowing exactly what it represents, or even what is below the ground that they are walking on.  Through the work that we are doing at CAP, we are hoping to educate people regarding the history and archaeological resources of Michigan State and to further preserve the history and archaeology of the nation’s pioneer land grand intistution.

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It is now the middle of October.  I am in disbelief.  The semester is going by so quickly.  It has now been several weeks since I have joined the Campus Archaeology program as an Intern.

My name is Jeff Gepper and I am an undergraduate senior here at MSU.  I am majoring in Anthropology, and receiving a minor in Geography.  After this year I plan on doing one of two things.  Option one attending graduate school at university x (currently undecided).  Option two refers to me putting off graduate school for a year to teach English in China.  The second option I have chosen for several reasons.  Firstly, I am currently learning mandarin.  Secondly, my hopes for my future are to conduct either archaeological or cultural work in China.

Anyways, that is a brief, very brief, introduction to who I am, but to move on now, I will discuss what i have been up to regarding my work as a CAP intern.  The majority of work so far have occurred in the bowels of Mcdonel hall, in the Archeology lab.  I have been cleaning artifacts found in the trash pit located next to Saints Rest.  The work can sometime be tedious, in example, cleaning hundreds of tiny shards of broken window and bottle glass.  But that does not mean I do not enjoy it.  I have made many discoveries that have been absolutely fascinating.  The first to come to mind it the white-ware ceramics with the maker’s crest printed on the back.  Now I personally have no experience in 1860’s ceramics, therefore have no factual evidence as to where it came from.  nevertheless, David (another awesome intern) have done much speculating as the origin of the artifact.  judging by the crown placed upon the top of the crest I make the assumption it comes from somewhere within the United Kingdom.  Once again i would like to reiterate that all of this is pure speculation, but that does not mean it is not fun to do.  Besides the ceramics the other exciting artifacts are mainly found in the metallic items, such as cut nails and pins.  These artifacts are specially fun to clean because at first they appear as a clump of rust and dirt.  After careful brushing and slight poking the item takes the form of a rusty nail or something similar.  The best so far was when one of the clumps of rust turned out to be a broken bolt with two nuts, possibly 3/8 “,  screwed onto it.  Quite fun to discover what that was.  other objects we clean are bricks, stones, and a good amount of butchered animal bone, specifically a cow and possible and pig.  Overall the lab has been the main area of focus, unfortunately due to computer failure and other related problems cataloging artifacts has not been happening, but hopefully will begin soon.

The lab as fun as it may be, is nothing compared to actual digging though.  Which I got the chance to participate in the very exciting excavation that uncovered the Northeast corner of College hall, the first building on MSU’s campus.  Under the time crunch placed on us we dug quickly, but carefully through the soft sand on the eastern side of the structure.  it was so nice it was digging in warm butter.  Though I found out my wall cutting abilities need a little, or a lot, of practice.  I hope I get the opportunity to practice it soon.  Due to our digging methods we found few artifacts, which included cut nails, pins, brick, and bone.  It was amazing however when Chris Valvano found a metal pin while excavating with a large shovel.  Now since there is only so much room in the excavation unit I was assigned the task along with another intern to probe the surrounding area to try and get a feel for where the rest of the structure may lie.  This was going well, until I made a fatal mistake.  In my eagerness to shove the metal shaft into the ground I became overzealous and punctured what turned out to be a major irrigation line for the entirety of the “Oak Opening” area.  Thankfully the maintenance crew was very understanding and friendly.  With tha experience under my belt I will from now on be very aware of my surroundings and constantly be checking for possible underground lines.  As the sun moved toward the West on Friday, our time became extremely strained and digging fervently Terry and Chris uncovered the actual foundation corner of the first building on the campus.  It was a great feeling to be a part of a team that will surely go down in MSU’s history books.

Now, being an intern for CAP I am required to create a research topic and present it. I am planning on using my Geographical and cartographic knowledge to put together a series of maps laying out where CAP has dug, where buildings once stood, and where exactly buildings are now in relation to old ones.  In order to get started I have been given the task to outline as the buildings in the west circle area.  This is one of the most exciting areas on campus because it is the site of the oldest campus buildings.  So far the building that has surprised me the most is the Armory.  It was built in 1885, and demolished in 1939 in order to make room for the current music building.  Now I personally doubt that many people on this campus realize that it once had an armory.  At least I thought it was pretty cool.

As for now that is where I stand, and I cannot wait to keep researching and finding out more cool things about MSU’s past.

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