Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 22: We Be Jammin'

Today the field schoolians were in the lab, and went over how to fill out the British Columbia Archaeological Site Inventory Form in preperation for the exam in two weeks. A quick reminder: the exam requires each individual to go to a site designated by Bob, and then collect information on the site, and the student will be marked on the accuracy and completeness of their Archaeological Site Inventory Form. We went over what quality of work the student is to provide, how to draw maps, how to describe the location and access to the location, and how to find field coordinates. The first trial run will be on Monday.

After discussing the exam, and and after having the round-table status updates, people started working on their projects.

Verena (pictured below) continued working on her project of illustrations. She is to provide 15 - 25 high quality to scale drawings. Her drawings are so good, and amazingly accurate! (She uses a caliper, and a magnifying glass as her assistants.)

Here's an example (and keep in mind that my photo of the artifact is horrid), of her drawing of the inside of a lighter.

Here is my horrid photo of the same object. Her drawings are clear and pristine, which makes it perfect to document any minute details.

This sketch is of the chimney damper that Andy had found in the hillside cabin on June 1st 2010. For a picture of Andy holding it, click here.

Here is another image! Verena was able to do this drawing in about an hour, and she had spent the rest of the time (4 hours) working on the following image which details the bottom of the bottle.

Simon continued working on his "minimum bottle" project and completed his quest through this years artifact inventory, and will soon go through the level bags and all the bottles previously recorded. Simon played music for us today, which is why we be jammin'. The lab had a relaxed but productive atmosphere today.

The report master, Andy, was able to start putting together some information. His job is to assemble, format, and proofread all of the documentation that Bob hands to him.

Nadia continued her research, and she had some news for us with Colgate. The toothpaste bottle found in a previous school year has official dates of production: they are between 1857 and 1928. This is different from information collected on the tube in the past, because a former student had thought that it started production in 1928, which was one of the many reasons that Bob had thought that Japanese continued to live in the logging camp after the 1920's.

The lid says "Colgate & Co. New York".

Photo of the front:

Photo of the back:

Andrea also did some research on the Vaseline bottle that she found in her unit on Wednesday. Preliminary research shows that this particular bottle design was produced between 1925 & 1933. This information really helps support Bob's hypothesis! Andrea is still waiting to hear back from Vaseline to confirm her research.

Close up!

Andrea also found out that Vaseline, discovered by Robert Chesebrough, had merged with Ponds in 1955, and were renamed "Chesebrough-Ponds", which was purchased by Unilever in 1987. Speaking of Ponds jars... below is a photo of the several found on site!

Just for fun, here is a picture of Bob (with Brittany) hunting around for the missing hose-head which was needed to wash off the field equipment.

The lab day tomorrow is optional, so over and out until Monday when the class will be in the field surveying!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 21: Backfilling!

The students were split up today! Some worked in the rainy field, and others worked in the lab. Yes, the fieldlings managed to erase almost every trace of the school's presence, which means they did an excellent job and worked very hard.

Andrea and Nadia continued to excavate throughout the entire day, with Simon and Max who were elected to be their sifting slaves, because they kept finding funky things like a vasaline jar with a lid, bottles, a leather boot, and cans. The tree that the ladies were excavating around seemed to contain a never ending supply of artifacts around the roots on the east side. Around 100, in addition to the items that were put in level bags (non-diagnostic metal, glass, leather, etc.). Bob was wondering why this could be, and thinks it is a possibility that the tree grew where a cabin wall had been, with the west side of the tree being on the outside of the cabin, and the east side being the inside of the cabin. Pictured below are the super excited Nadia and Andrea, next to the seemingly skeptical Paul.

The other fieldlings (Paul, Simon, Anja, Verena, Andy, and Bora) after backfilling, adventured off into every direction to remove the flagging tape from the artifacts and features near the McKenzie Creek site. Bora is pictured below, replacing a rock in it's unit.

Paul, Andy, and Anja took down the shelters and did most of the loading of the truck with equipment and supplies. Bob (pictured below) needed to make two trips to return all of the impedimenta back to the University.

It sounds to me like these hard workers might have to have a beer at the pub down the street on Friday, to marvel at the accomplishments of this week.

In the lab today were Sonya, Paul, Brittany, Rikki, Spencer, and myself.

Sonya (pictured below, and in a bit of a shock) kept up the good work of organizing all of the artifacts! She had to go through each form filled out, make sure that the information provided was accurate and consistent (eg: with measurements, descriptions, etc.), enter it onto her computer, tag the artifacts, and then put them in the case behind her until a more permanent location can be found.

Spencer (below) came to the lab today to help out Sonya and Brittany, and to look in the archives to satisfy his curiosity over several items found.

One of the items that he was looking into (pictured below) is a handle for a stove lid, and it has a very nice floral pattern around it.

Spencer saw that this handle resembles the one found in the 1917 Woodward Department Store Ltd. catalog (seen below), in the bottom left of the picture.

Brittany (below) focused on her project today too. She continues to go through the archives of the artifacts found in previous years, to amend any false information, and to provide as many facts where details are missing.

Rikki's interesting soil samples continue. She took soil samples from the Japanese rockery, the Japanese garden, and a few control areas last week and this week.

Today she worked on filtering the soil using a 4mm sifter, and a 0.8mm sifter, to rid herself of that pesky moss and other bits.

Afterward she inspected the soil for materials, such as shells which would be used to raise the pH of the gardens, using her microscope. Rikki thinks that if shell pieces are found in her control samples, then this might have a few explanations: perhaps the entire section from the rockery to the garden was indeed used as a garden (instead of just those two areas), or perhaps there was no garden at all.

See below for a microscopic photo! It looks like some shell bits are found in there...

Today Sean continued attacking his plethora of level bags (click here for last weeks explanation) with help from yours truly (me). Pictured below are some of the level bags which are now organized only by unit (and no longer by depth below surface in addition to unit).

Sean took those bags and separated different materials. After separating materials, he would then separate those materials into classes.
For example, in the picture below is all of the metal found in a particular unit's level bags. The metal was separated into nails, wire, can bases, can sides, and metal bits. The metal bits were further separated into sizes of >3cm, >2cm, and >1cm.

Sean then fills out a sheet for each unit, which requires him to weigh and count each of these materials. Eg: All aqua glass shards collected would be weighed, and then all clear glass shards, and so on. When he is finished he will have a classy document which shows how much, and what came from, certain excavation units to provide some context behind any artifacts also found in the same area.

Go team! Tomorrow will be a lab day for the entire class to clean equipment, work on projects, research artifacts, and learn about surveying and recording techniques for the exam. See you then!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 20: Final Excavation Date (but the school will go on!)

Today was beautiful! And it was the last excavation day so the students were motivated, and in a hurry to get their units finished off while they could. People have become very attached to their units, or as Bob would say "become one with their unit". That essentially means that the hard working excavator can't even be teared away for lunch.

Sonya, Verena, and Andrea finished unearthing a tree in the process (as seen below) in their individual units. Don't worry about the tree though, since everything that was removed will be backfilled (filled back in) tomorrow. These ladies did a wonderful job exposing and getting under the roots (where artifacts are often found).

Bora (pictured below in his unit) also continued on with his excavating, and just when he thought the unit was sterile he uncovered a vent piece for a stove, which was quite a surprise.

Anja and Paul have also finished up their excavating of the wooden boards. In the picture below you can see how well they exposed the boards. In this same area they found two large pieces to a metal pipe (2nd picture below)!

Max has finished up everything to do with his project on the mystery chair (pictured below), and the small fire pit (2nd picture below), that was placed overlooking a ravine. He was concerned with the dimensions, drawings, and photographs of the chair.

The Hillside cabin (Moss Vegas) had many adventures in it today. First, the south unit's excavation was completed yesterday, so today the north unit was tackled by Suzannah, Andy, Sean, Jessi (myself), Spencer, and later to be joined by Simon and Max. After not finding anything other than nails and metal bits, and because of the rush to finish the area off, we started excavating to the east of the cabin where the original window glass had been found. Boy, did it pay off! Spencer, under the direction of Suzannah, had found MORE window glass! (See the picture below).

I was also very excited, because next to Spencer I found my first official artifact (that wasn't a piece of a can), which was a hinge and a hinge-joint for a door! It was made up of very heavy and thick layered metal.

Some things that also kept showing up were nails that were frequently bent to have 90 degree angles (pictured below). Bob postulates that the nails were hammered into an object, accidentally bent, and instead of removing the nail and inserting a straight one, the carpenter would just hit it until it was flat (making the angle).

(Below is a picture of the hillside cabin looking west, with Anja, Bob, Suzannah and Sean.)

One of the other things that the field school participants did was practice using bear spray with the proper safety techniques outlined by Bob on the first day of class, in addition to a refresher today in the field. The bear spray that we used had already expired, and Bob thought it would be handy for the students to get some hands-on lessons, should an emergency arise where it is necessary to use. There have been bears spotted near the excavation area. There are a few interesting things about the spray that are almost unexpected. First, the spray shoots out in a cone formation and then dissipates, and is pretty much only useful if the bear is directly in front of you. It isn't recommended to use it against the wind, because it is very powerful against the senses, as well as when it shoots out of the can because it is under very high pressure. Sean is using it in the picture below.

Yes, today a lot was accomplished with almost everyone completing their tasks as scheduled. Tomorrow the students will either be in the lab working on their projects, or in the field breaking camp (as mentioned earlier). Next week the students will be going through excavation withdrawals, but don't worry! The field school will continue on until the 25th of June, with lots of survey work in the field, and more lab work. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 19: More Delightful Visitors!

Fresh sprinkles welcomed the tough field school students, who fear no rain, this shiny morning. As nature welcomed the field school, the field school welcomed two very important visitors. The first being the archaeologist, Alvaro Higueras! Alvaro, pictured below in the orange jacket, checked out the site and observed the students while they worked away.

The second visitor to the field school was Mr. Carl Sparks (pictured below) who was, very interestingly, a former resident within the Lower Seymour Valley! We wanted to know about the past of the valley, and Carl was our ticket in! Carl lived near our site from 1928 until 1938, and his father was the caretaker of the watershed.

Bob showed Carl our excavation site, and then Carl showed Bob one of his former (and overgrown) residences in the reserve. Although Carl remembers people discussing the Japanese logging camps when he was a boy, he wasn't aware of the McKenzie creek site when lived in the area. Carl has so far introduced Bob to two additional residences of his in the past, and today was the third (so, 3 in total). Pictured below are two photos of Carl: he is holding a photo of his house, taken in the exact same spot over 80 years ago! Today the only remnant of the whole area is one of the large posts from the archway, which is now leaning over among some trees.

All of this excitement is barely bearable, but wait... there's more! Pictured below is a fully intact, super-cool, mini dark-blue bottle that Andrea found today!

Tomorrow we will continue the entertainment!