Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 27: Tool Making & Fencing! Together at Last?

The students continued on their merry way today, in the lab. The crazy gang was very "hands on" this afternoon...

No one was in the field except for Suzannah and Max (dramatically pictured below), who trekked off to find, among other things, more parts to the vinyl record found on Tuesday. Success! But, they came back at the end of the day in a bit of an awkward state. They had forgotten to take their tools with them, so they made their own! Suzannah is holding her hand made trowel, and Max is holding another portion of the record he uncovered. These two also dealt with a cornucopia of boulders, that Suzannah says "we successfully moved with only the aid of our minds, the tools we made from rocks, and shear strength." Underneath these bountiful boulders, they had found:
- a twisted metal container, with orange paint on it
- a thin metal handle
- a glass jar bottom
- a section of a broken ceramic plate
- more cardboard (found near the record, making us think it was the case for it)
- and lots of bottle caps with diagnostics on them!

Former field schooler Christie Leung had joined us in the lab today, to help work on projects. Thanks Christie!

Speaking of former field schoolers... Spencer taught us a very valuable lesson today (during the lunch break), on how to solve an argument with an archaeologist... Sure, most archaeologists would agree that you would just buy your colleague a beer, but Spencer declared that it is through fencing! Pictured below is one of the matches he had with Simon.

The groupies (pictured below), watching from inside the lab, were caught red-handed as they swooned over the undefeated champion.

An update on what Rikki (pictured below) was doing in the lab for her project is her soil samples.

Last week she was able to separate the moss and junk from the soil, and this week she continues to go through her checklist for materials found in her controls, in order to compare them to the Japanese rockery and garden. If there is a large difference between the controls and McKenzie Creek sites, then this might help us determine what the rockery was used for, and if a garden was previously in the area.

Her work station is set up in a very impressive way! Rikki brought her microscope from home, and the handy dandy machine of science actually has a camera that you can hook up to the microscope lens, and then into the computer. This way Rikki is able to provide Bob with detailed photos of soil, which proves if there were objects like shells or seeds present in it.

Our sweet Nadia (pictured below) spent the day researching the orange crush glass bottle we found. When she find out more information, I'll be sure to share it with you on the blog!

The saucy Verena (below) continued her magnificently thorough drawings.

Here is her sketch of a metal top to a Japanese beer or sake bottle, compared to the original. Impressive!

And naturally, the darling Andrea continued taking her photos of the artifacts.

Continuing yesterdays story, here is an update from Sean, Brittany, and Sonja's adventure. They had gone into the field yesterday to do some surveying, in an area that Bob had never checked out before. They think that a homeless person, or some campers, had been in the area within the last 10 years because they found a relatively new pot & pan near a recent cooking fire. They had also found some newer pieces of wood with nails embedded into them along a very steep slope off of the trail they were surveying along, as well as some wooden features that looked like they were used for stairs.

Today went by very quickly, but since tomorrow is another optional lab day students do have the option to work at home or in the lab on their projects.

On Monday there is no class scheduled, but the school will be running again on Tuesday the 22nd. Have a great weekend (don't forget that it is Fathers day on Sunday), and see you next week!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 26: Maps, Records, and Buttons! Oh My!

The field school was split up into two groups again today, except the lab kids from yesterday were in the field, and the fieldlings were in the lab.

Sean, Brittany, and Sonya were out in the field surveying a bike trail that was never surveyed by Bob before. The bike trails often seem to go through trails that had already been formed, so it is possible that the bike trail that this group was going through had once been used for access to the cabin. Tomorrow we will hopefully have an update of what, if anything, they found in the area.

Most of the other students were in the lab, where two very exciting things happened. First, we received an exiting package in the mail from Steve Carter on behalf of Carhartt! Carhartt manufactured work gear and garments (eg: overalls) and the people who used the products were often in the logging, railroad, mining, and agriculture industries. The package contained lots of goodies, including the work bibs/handkerchiefs that Nadia, Anja, Paul, and Suzannah are modeling for us in the picture below.

On Day 11 of the field school we had found a Carhartt button (click here for the picture of our button), and Andrea was doing research and ended up emailing Steve for some information, and boy did he help narrow down a time period for us. This particular style of button had a patent on it in 1913, and was used until 1932 for bibs! Below are pictures of the two kinds of buttons that he had sent us.

We did not find the heart shaped button (pictured below) on the site, however, now we have an untarnished version to compare to if we do find one. This button was used for jackets and coats from 1900 until 1930.

Steve also included the Carhartt Universal Account Book for Farmers booklet (pictured below). The booklet was interesting to go through because it included some information on the history of Carhartts, and the promise from the President to his customers to continue to provide quality products. Thanks Steve for all of your help!

The second exciting thing to have happen today revolved around the vinyl record that Max had found yesterday. Our dear Suzannah contacted her father (Roy) who works in the music industry and is very keen on solving mysteries such as ours: Who manufactured the record? What kind of music was on it? When was it produced?

Roy told us that in order for us to find out this information we must have the "record number" and the "matrix number", which are usually found on the deadwax of the record (the rim). We looked at the deadwax and found the record number embossed in it, however we could not find the matrix number.

By using the record number we had found, Roy found a matching album that had the same record number. It was on a DECCA label by the artist "Roman GOSZ and his Orchestra"! Side A had the "Brokenheart Polka" on it, and Side B had "Autumn Rose Laenver" on it, and it was recorded in 1939. We cannot confirm that this is the exact same record, without the matrix number, however this is very very intriguing and fantastic news because of the possible lead Roy provided.

Suzannah will be heading back with Max tomorrow to the area where he found the record, hopefully to find the missing pieces and therefore more diagnostic information.

There were other things going on in the lab today too. Bora (pictured below) was given the task of gluing broken bottles together. It was a very frustrating puzzle, but Bora is very good at it!

Spencer (pictured below) worked with his handy assistant Simon today (the second picture below) on the acid baths used to scrub away all of that pesky rust. It was just as successful as yesterday, and we are very happy that this method of Spencer's works! He was given the idea to use the gentle citric acid bath from a bunch of beer can collectors who work with cans that are closer to pristine than our cans.

Finally, most everyone else worked on their projects, like Anja (pictured below), or Verena who continued her detailed drawings, and Andrea who worked on her fantastic photographs.

If the students weren't working on the projects, or helping others, they were working on filling out their Archaeological Site Inventory Form for the Martin/McKay site assignment from Monday, or on Tuesdays assignment of drawing maps. (Pictured below is Max checking out his map)

A quick sketch of "the point" site where team Super-fantastic worked yesterday is pictured below. They did the sketch because they wanted to get a good idea of where the objects were located in relation to others, before drawing it to scale.

Thursday will be another day in the lab! More to come!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 25: Exam Map Prep Take Two!

Today the two teams carried on a variation of their tasks from yesterday. Team Awesome surveyed and mapped the west side of Fisherman's trail, while Team Super-fantastic surveyed and mapped the area south of "the point".

Team Super-fantastic adventured into the rain forest (pictured below), continuing in the strategic formation used to find any archaeological features. It was a bit tough maneuvering through the plant life and shrubs, but Paul came to the rescue. Can you see the trees attempting to consume him in the picture below?

One of the goals of surveying south of the point was to document the locations of some of the cabins in the area, along with a large concrete pillar that was originally used for a pulley system to transport materials across they Seymour River. Max found it early in the morning!

Max was a champion today. He found window glass (pictured below), which indicates the location of a cabin in the area.

Max also uncovered an old record (see below), with a portion of the label or case! A record! That's just crazy! It was hidden under a tree stump, and originally he had overturned a very small portion of the record, and then saw that there was more of the "strange material" underneath its pine needle bed. Even though the record was not an archaeological feature, it is still useful to document because if the record has any diagnostic properties, we might be able to designate a time to the site.

Near the area with the window glass, record, and pillar, there was also a very large metal pipe running into the water. It may have been used to bring water to a cabin. There was also a similar sized pipe about 30 meters from this area.

Two very large well-shaped depressions were also found (right next to each other, and near two large piles of bricks). Paul (pictured below) was able to show us that the hole was quite deep. It would be interesting to survey this small area in the future, because of the high concentration of artifacts and features found.

Two beds (pictured below)were also found today: one was north of the point, and the other was south of the point. The metal framework and the springs were clustered together nicely, but the bed must have been very small.

Both teams (pictured below) enjoyed a pleasant lunch together in the sun.

During this whole adventure, Spencer (Tin Can Guy) was in the lab with Sonya, Sean, Brittany, and Andrea.

Spencer did some citric acid cleaning today with a few tobacco style tin boxes. The acid bath has had a few effects on the cans! The first is that once the rust has been removed, diagnostic information (previously unseen) on the labels became available. The second is that the absence of the rust seems to restore the metals pliability.

A great example that Spencer provided is the tobacco tin previously seen on Day 12's blog post. Spencer put this tin through one round of citric acid cleaning, and the difference (compared to here) is amazing! The colours are much more vibrant, and has made reading the label much easier with the improved clarity. Spencer is hoping that more will be visible after this can's second soaking tomorrow.

Tomorrow the students in the field will swap roles with those in the lab so that everyone gets a chance to have some fresh air. See you then!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 24: Surveying & Test Run

Another glorious morning welcomed the field students into the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. Today the students were split into 2 groups of seven (one student was unable to come in today), and were given instructions to perform some surveying, and then to practice filling out the Site Inventory Form.

Pictured below are Nadia, Verena, and Simon

Pictured below are Brittany, Paul, and Max

Team Awesome: Verena, Nadia, Simon, Suzannah, Sean, Rikki, and Bora.
Team Super-fantastic (pictured below): Andy, Max, Anja, Paul, Brittany, Sonya, and Jessica/myself (not pictured).

Today team super-fantastic was instructed to go to "the point" (an area with picnic tables, on the Seymour River), and "comb the forest" which meant walking in formation, a certain distance apart, looking for features. The objective was to find a concrete pond that was somewhere inbetween "the point" and "Fowlers" where there is an archway (pictured below) and several posts.

Oh look! The pond was found! In the picture below, Anja is standing in the pond, and you can see it's concrete perimeter.

And below you can see Max, Andy, Brittany and Paul excitedly pointing at a very heavy portion of the perimeter, within the pond! Good job!

Instead of bringing a tape measure, students were encouraged to find out the length of their pace, and then use their pace and meter conversion rates for documenting the location of sites and distances. The student would walk a 30 meter distance three times, and take the average length of their pace. This proved handy for the second task of the day.

For task # 2, the students from each group were directed towards the Martin/McKay site and were supposed to document the area. In other words, they were to pace to the well in the area (pictured below), which was used as the focal point for the maps that were to be drawn for the Archaeological Inventory Form. The students then were to designate the perimeters of the area, by pacing in each direction (north, south, east, west) looking for features, and when no more features were found, that would be the border for the map.

The rest of the form could be filled out from home, if the student desired to do it there. After last Thursdays class, the student is expected to know how to find out the elevation, location, access, latitude & longitude, etc. for this site.

Tomorrow Sonya, Sean, Andrea, and Brittany will be in the lab, working away in the nice dry room, while the rest of the gang will be getting more exercise in as they to continue surveying and mapping. More updates tomorrow!

Day 23: Optional Lab

There are lots of students dedicated to their projects. On Friday, the optional lab day, Bora and Paul (pictured below) worked very hard cleaning the very mucky field equipment.

Andrea, Anja, Rikki, and Verena also participated in lab related activities! Go team! After being in this program, people become committed to their assignments, and the overall school objectives!