The final stages of excavation have begun. It is sad to see that the Old Main site will be closing over the summer. There were many great times and some bad times (due to the weather). It is unknown as of now if a class will be returning to excavate next year. Until a few of the units have been filled in, tomorrow the entire site will be closed and student will be heading home. Tonight was the last night for lab work some artifacts were bagged and tagged while others had just been clean. Tomorrow the artifacts that have been cleaned will be bagged and tagged tomorrow. As the time draws to a close students are finishing papers and finishing paper work.
Today was our first day of real excavation. Only one group had their sod off before today. This afternoon a few groups found some artifacts! We found charcoal, cement, a battery, more charcoal, and possibly chewing gum.
The charcoal and cement are remnants of Old Main. We don’t think that the battery or the potential piece of gum are from Old Main even though they were found in the same stratum. We believe the battery and chewing gum were dropped there later and that they are in the same stratum because of how close it is to the surface. There is still a piece of cement that needs to be excavated from our unit.
We didn’t have a lab today because overall the groups did not find many artifacts. Tomorrow we will have a lab and process/analyze our artifacts from today and any we find tomorrow. We will wash, tag, bag, and catalog the artifacts before the day is over.
Today we celebrated the annual Archaeology Olympics at Alma College! The class spent the afternoon perfecting their archaeology skills and competing against each other in teams. The timed activities included:
1. Correctly writing a bag tag
2. Correctly organizing the 10YR Munsell chart
3. Accurately leveling a string level
Other activities based solely on accuracy were:
1. Walking/pacing 5 meters
2. Tossing dirt into a screen
3. The trowel toss
We were also going to time how fast and accurately each group could plot a one meter by one meter square. However, we ran out of time and will continue tomorrow.
While this afternoon was meant to be fun, we also learned how to correctly write labels for our bags, how to accurately pace 5 meters, how to throw a trowel (maybe not as necessary as the others…), and we learned to have an appreciation for a straight string level.
Tomorrow we will be perfecting our skills in plotting one by one meter squares, which we will plot out “in real life” later in the day for our actual excavation.
The winning teams were: FIRST PLACE – Aggie, Jenny, and Sam. SECOND PLACE – Blake, Mary Francis, and Luke. THIRD PLACE – Doug, Phil, and Colin. Congratulations!
We did not only learn about proper techniques in class but we also learned about the history and some fun facts about Old Main as well. Old Main was built in 1886 and the college was originally called Central Michigan Normal School. After a year the name was changed to Alma Normal School then a few years later the campus was named Alma College. Although Old Main held class rooms and offices it was considered an administration building during its first years. Old Main burned down on March 10th, 1969, at 11am due to an unknown fire. The fire started in the attic; this allowed time for students and faculty to gather as much materials from the building as possible. When the firefighters showed up they stopped the students and faculty from going into the burning building. The students were so shocked and heartbroken about the loss of old main that some of them even wrote eulogies. With Old Main being the main building where classes were held after it burned down a new building needed to be erected. In place of Old Main the campus now has Swanson Academic Center or better known as SAC.
With this information we know to look for artifacts like scissors, pencils, nails from the building’s structure, and glass to name a few. With the artifacts that have already been found along with the artifacts that we will find, we will analyze the materials together to gain more information of the time period.