Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 5: First Official Lab Day

Day 5 was the first official lab day for the Field School. Everyone gathers at the lab every Friday, and whenever Bob deems appropriate for projects, meetings, etc.

The main subject discussed was the individual project topics for the students, and how each student will be marked (because every topic is different, with different requirements). The projects were distributed, and each student was happy with their assignment because they were involved in the decision process.

It was interesting to hear Bob say that every field school is different in how they manage assignments, grading techniques, etc.

The first week is now completed, with six left to go. It went by really fast!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 4: Setting up Camp and Clearing Debris

The party of 13 students started bright and early this morning at one of the main excavation sites of this summer. The job today was to build our little camp, and to clear the area of debris (large branches, logs, etc.). The other two students were working hard at a different excavation site to clear out some material from previous years to bring back to the rest of the group.

The first order of business was to erect two shelters for the precious equipment! This task turned into something of a team building exercise filled with trial and error.

Following the successful completion of the tents, the students split into different groups to accomplish their next mission. One group worked on building a stairway for easy entry to our tents. (They are cheesily posing below in front of their masterpiece).

The next two groups worked on clearing a very large area of its refuse in order to get a better look at the land.

Next week, the land will be scoured for markings such as depressions and rock formations, in order to get a better idea of what the land was used for in the past. Below is a picture of one student who discovered a depression (which may or may not be something of significance), and look at how excited she is. Thumbs up!

The final group was at a different site, and their job was to find and clear the area where a cabin was uncovered by the field school two years ago. Originally, eight years ago, a student from the field school had found a piece of window glass, and two years ago they discovered the source! Pictured below is one person from the lucky group, standing in the foundation of the small cabin.

The first week within the excavation site is now finished, and the students will be returning on Monday to energetically take on the next task!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 3: Tour of the Reserve Continues

The adventure continued this morning, for the field school, as the energetic students hiked around the reserve to visit three excavation sites. The dig sites were areas that had been excavated by the field school in previous years, and will be the major base of operations for this year as well.

Bob Muckle revealed and explained the hypotheses behind major landscape depressions, seemingly hidden (to the untrained eye) logging roads, and man made structures.

At the first location visited, the students were shown the best preserved wooden logging road in the park, which is thought to have been used by horses to transport logs. The log road was kept relatively level, because a road too steep would cause problems for the horses. For example, if horses were transporting a load down the wooden road that was slanted downhill, the load could come out of control, and if it was slanted uphill, the steep incline would prove to be too difficult for the horses. In order to keep the road level, the foundation would be supported by trunks (pictured below), which were often embedded with objects like nails and glass bottles.

Several saws were found at the various sites, but this particular one (pictured below) was warped and surrounded by a maple tree. After taking in the context of the surroundings, it was revealed to the students that a fire had caused the saw to become warped. This hypothesis was supported by the fact that maple trees are often the first type of trees to grow in an area after it has been burned, and throughout the area charcoal and other warped metals were found.

Broken glass bottles were a common acquisition at the sites in previous years, and many of these have been documented already.

At each logging camp a familiar discovery was a wood burning stove or oven. The one pictured below had stumped some former students of Muckle's in the past because the student who helped recover the stove had read an engraving on the side saying "To Jake". After pondering upon this curious inscription, it was realized that the "J" had incorrectly been read, and the whole etching had actually said "To Bake", commonly found on ovens.

Another strange unearthing was the picture of the battery core seen below. The core was found near the old horse stables at one of the sites.

During the lunch break, the students marveled at how beautiful the view is at the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. How fortunate for them to be able to participate in this educational (and healthy) program!

Imagine being in the middle of a massive park, and stumbling upon a chair looking out over a ravine, with a foot rest and a stove to its side. Pictured below is a chair that the troop were shown today, and it was only discovered about eight years ago. Who made the chair, and when it was made is uncertain, but the creator obviously must have enjoyed the view.

Near midday Muckle showed the students a very strange hole in the ground. The hole was filled with water had no entrance, or exit, and as of yet no pipes. There were vertical boards lining the hole, and it was situated next to a small creek. Muckle postulates that the hole might have been a Japanese water supply where the water was siphoned out. The plywood seen in the photo was used for shoring (to hold up the dirt and debris), and five years ago the ladder was supplied to provide the excavating group access into and out of the the reservoir.

Several cans were also found on site, and students were left to wonder what was contained in these cans. The air holes were very small, so it is suggested that a thin liquid was contained in them. No labels or markings could be seen because of the state the cans were in. Although they look very dated, these are actually very nicely preserved.

The highlight of the day was having Bob explain to the students his golden discovery. Below Muckle is pictured with what is probably the only excavated Japanese bath house in North America. There is evidence that a shelter had been built around the bathhouse and that it was stoked by a fire from underneath. Along with the bathhouse, a ladle was found, a large metal sheet typical of bath houses, around a thousand nails, and several pieces of camera equipment. How exciting! More discoveries and fun await the Archaeology Field School tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 1 and 2: Tour of the Reserve and Introduction to Course

On day 2 Capilano University's Archaeology Field School of 2010 adventured for the first time this semester into the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve in the lower mainland of British Columbia. The field school is led by the instructor Bob Muckle, and consists of 15 adventurous students, who are eager to learn about archaeology in a hands-on excavation site setting.

Today the troupe visited various excavation sites from previous field school years, allowing the students to become more familiar with the land usage and history of some sections of the reserve.

Some of today’s highlights included visiting former cabin & logging sites from the early to mid 1900’s, and an old water irrigation tunnel.

More fun is bound to come tomorrow, with the investigation and familiarization of different sections of the reserve.

Day 1 was in the lab, and involved doing basic paper work, figuring out supplies, going over course objectives, introducing ourselves, meeting the instructor, and arranging plans for the next day.