Friday, July 27, 2012

Student Carly Herrud Participates in the Island Archaeology Program in Maine

I didn't know what to expect on first experience of my first dig, let alone my first field school. What I came to find out was that a lot of effort is put into archaeological fieldwork, and seagulls are evil during their nesting season. I spent one week in summer 2012 working on Smuttynose Island as part of the Island Archaeology Program through the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine. Smuttynose Island first entered the historical record during the colonial period, when it was used for fish processing, most often giant cod. There was also a tavern that once stood on the island, but there are only two buildings left standing: Gull Cottage and the Hayley House.

Carly (right) in her trench.
I got to experience digging from the sod all the way down to Level 8 (prehistoric) in a standard 1 m² unit with my trench partner, Danielle. The number of artifacts we collected during one week was astounding. We found copious amounts of smoking pipes, glass, ceramics, and plenty of fauna (animal bones). Fish bones were the most common find, but we also found multiple cat skeletons in our unit. Danielle even found a lithic (stone tool)! Professor Nate Hamilton of the University of Southern Maine was the head faculty overseeing this excavation; the assistants were his former students Lindsay and Katherine. Even though most people were from schools much closer to the island than me, everyone was so nice. I’ll always remember Nate’s phrase of choice whenever we stumbled upon a cool find: wicked!

This experience was not only new to me because it was my first field school, but the living conditions were new to me as well. All of the students working through the Shoals Marine Laboratory resided in dorms on Appledore Island, which was a short boat ride away from where we worked. Shoals is very energy conscious, having purchased a wind turbine and composting toilets for the dining hall. With this awareness came the unfortunate limit on even navy style showers, which made cleaning up every day after field work nearly impossible. Dirtiness and aggressive seagulls aside, I had an amazing experience learning the basics of archaeological excavation and enjoying the beauty of this island environment.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Student Alyssa Reynolds at New Harmony, IN

“You’ve got to go dig those holes."
-“Dig it” D-Tent Boys

Having never been on an archaeological dig before, I have to admit I was a little worried. Will I get along with the other students? Since I’m not experienced in field methods, will the professor cast me off to the side? Those were just a few questions racing through my mind. However, after participating in the USI field school from May 9th – June 8th at New Harmony, IN, all of my doubts were erased.

Alyssa with a Harmonist red ware cup.
The focus of the 2012 field season of USI’s excavations at New Harmony was Christoph Weber’s pottery kiln. Previous field schools had uncovered the firebox for the kiln, but we were hoping to expand further on this feature. Much to director Dr. Michael Strezewski’s surprise, the kiln was larger than he had anticipated. Not a big surprise - considering this is archaeology. One of the most interesting artifacts discovered was a Harmonist redware cup. My digging partner and I were so excited when we pulled this out of the ground! Other artifacts unearthed included Harmonist pottery shards, rotary scissors, and kiln furniture. While expanding the kiln feature, the remnants of a church wall built after the Harmonist period and a brick floor from the Harmonist period were also discovered.

The amount of knowledge which I obtained from the field school was immense. I learned how to draw maps, measure, document, and dig using correct excavation methods, all while having a lot of fun. Making new friends was easier than I thought. Being in a hole with somebody for an extended period of time makes you get to know that person rather quickly. I will never forget this experience and all of the people I met. We all had such a good time together. Filling in the holes on the last day was a bittersweet experience for all of us. We reminisced about our five weeks together in the hot sun digging holes and discovering the past. We laughed, hugged, and vowed to do it all again if possible. I thank them for making my first field school unforgettable and reaffirming my career choice – archaeologist.

Alyssa in a trench at New Harmony.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Washington D.C.

Dr. Heidi Strobel was in Washington D.C. last weekend to do some research at the Folger Library and to see the "Royalists to Romantics" exhibition of late eighteen and early nineteenth-century female artists at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.  She visited with recent Archaeology & Art History alum Leah Thomas, who will be starting a M.A. in Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall.  Dr. Strobel also made several visits to the National Gallery, where she is pictured below, along with Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert's amusing sculpture Painting and Sculpture (c. 1775).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jezreel Expedition featured on local public radio

UE Associate Professor of Archaeology and Co-Director of the Jezreel Expedition, Jennie Ebeling, was interviewed by Micah Schweizer on WNIN's The Trend on July 13, 2012.  Click here to listen to the interview (it's about halfway through the program).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

UE Students Excavate Armageddon

Hilda (in blue hard hat) and Emily (far right) work the bucket line at Megiddo.
The eight UE students and recent graduates who participated in the 2012 Jezreel Expedition also had the opportunity to excavate nearby Megiddo - biblical Armageddon - for one week in June. The students really enjoyed the chance to dig at one of the most famous sites in "biblical archaeology" and learn excavation techniques with more than one hundred students and staff from all over the world.

Megan at Megiddo.

Nate works the sifter at Megiddo.

Sarah (red shirt) in her little corner of Megiddo.

Mike in his trademark white shirt at Megiddo.