Sunday, 24 June 2012

June 21st: Our Mark on Historic Archaeology

The very last day of the 2012 Capilano Archaeology Field School was on campus in the lab for a final round-table meeting with Bob Muckle. We had a chance to present our reports for the individual projects before handing them in. We were all fascinated with Rebecca's McKenzie Creek site map which allows us to digitally visualize the camp layout based on the locations of the artifacts we had found. The survey reports, artifact catalog, and level bag summaries are complete as well.

Jasmin and Willow presented their reports on the "garden/rock" features; concluding that Willow's area was most likely a garden (due to the terrain, shape, and the amount of animal bone fragments found in the soil) and that Jasmin's rock feature was likely to have supported a structure of some kind, perhaps an open gazebo (lots of charred wood and nails were found in the excavation process). All in all, the projects and reports came together nicely and we are confidant that our contributions to the project will be very useful for future field schools.

One of the last days we were in the lab...seems like yesterday that we were learning each others' names!

The "P" building on the Capilano campus (where we store some of our archaeology supplies) is a little scary in some areas as it is quite an old building with some strange contents. So creepy in fact, that Ryan, Andrew, and Nathan decided to do their best impression of a zombie apocalypse attack. An appropriately silly moment to commemorate the completion of packing away our gear.

I was very happy to report to Bob that this blog has received over 3,000 viewers from 20 different countries worldwide (including Russia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Philippines, Italy, Zimbabwe, and Argentina to name a few).

We all felt a tinge of sadness on our last day together...none of us seemed ready for the program to be over. We have all gotten to know each other quite well and it's clear that we all would have been happy to spend another 6 weeks working with one another. Alas, it was time to say goodbye so we all went out for lunch at a restaurant just down the road from campus. Bob said it was the first time in the program's history that all 15 field school students had gotten together for a social gathering. I have a feeling that the friendships we have developed as a crew will last for a long time.

Thank you to all of the readers and supporters (family, friends and colleagues) of the blog and the field school itself. It was an experience that our entire crew will never forget.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

June 19th: Pack It In

Today the crew was either at home working on their reports, or in the lab helping to put away all the artifacts and clean the space. We are fortunate to have storage space for the supplies (although perhaps not quite enough) between the "showers" room in the "P" building on the Capilano Univesity campus and the anthropology lab in the Cedar building.

A room that was once used for a women's shower facility is now the Archaeology storage space.

Nathan approves of Alexis' inventory list.

We also had a great turn out despite the rain at the 2012 BC Family Fishing Day and Watershed Tours Kick-off event in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve on Sunday, June 17th. Dini had a chance to interact with around 300 people at our booth. We were clearly one of the most popular exhibits, outdrawing many of the 20+ booths and attractions. The only things that outdrew us were the salmon bbq and the Tim Horton’s Community Cruiser giving away free coffee and donut holes. In the spirit of father's day, Bob and his daughter, Anna came to see the booth. Ryan came by to help out for a couple of hours, and Alexis was there with some friends as well.

Tomorrow we will be cleaning the lab and Dini will finish setting up the artifact display outside the anthropology room. Thursday is the last day of class as we will be handing in our final exams and report papers. This course has gone by so quickly, I think we're all starting to feel a little sad that it's coming to a close.

Monday, 18 June 2012

June 18th: Map-Makers Set the Pace

Today the entire crew was in the field for our final exam. We were required to document an archaeological site using only our compass, map, and our pace to make measurements. We met at the gazebo (the entrance to the reserve) at 9am for our final instructions from Bob before venturing into the forest. We split into two groups; most of us chose to document the McKenzie Creek site but a handful of us decided to take a risk and try a different location in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve.

Every once in a while we would bump into each other while mapping the site boundaries.

Alexis took a short video clip of me explaining what we're doing for the exam today. (You can see Spencer M "pacing" in the background)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

June 15: All the Little Pieces

Today most of the crew was working from home as we are preparing for our final exam and writing our project reports. Lindsay and Alexis were in the lab working on artifact and level bag cataloging while Willow and Jasmin put more time into their soil analysis tests.

Jasmin and Willow are taking a very close look at some of the soil samples from the "rock feature" and "garden" excavation units from the McKenzie Creek site. They are looking for seeds or evidence that those areas were in fact used as gardens.

Alexis has managed to glue together the pieces of the SMP glass lantern that we had found this year. Her hard work allows us to see what the shape of lantern looked like before it was broken.

Lindsay is cleaning field equipment and some of the last few artifacts found this season.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

June 14th: Be One With the Compass

Today the whole crew met on the Capilano University campus for a lecture from Bob on recording archaeological sites. We all brought our maps and compasses to class and practiced mapping techniques such as how to use a 1:50,000 scale map and how to calculate latitude and longitude. It is important for us to learn these fundamental skills because modern GPS and digital equipment isn't always as reliable in the field as a map or compass. We learned how to fill out a form when recording a new site, how to draw the symbols on a map (for things like cultural features, water flows and vegetation), and how to write directions/instructions for finding an archaeological site.

Our final exam is Monday, so over the weekend I will be re-measuring my pace and brushing up on my field notes.

I know one member of our crew is ready for anything on Monday...Nathan has got what it takes to overcome all odds on our final exam.

 Tuesday was one of the last field days. Here Willow and Spencer M are enjoying one last afternoon under the shelter.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

June 13th: Leave No Trace

Out in the field today Rebecca, Ryan, and Mark completed packing all of the gear at McKenzie Creek. One truckload was all it took to get everything back to campus at Capilano University. Jasmin stayed on site to work on the rock feature but did not find anything significant so she eventually backfilled the unit. After the units were all closed and everything was packed in the truck, the crew did a final sweep of the site to ensure that we left as little evidence of our presence as possible. They were careful to remove any flagging tape from the area and dismantled the stairs into the site that we had built. At noon the field crew headed to the lab to unload the gear.

 Rebecca shines in this photo of the field crew breaking down our shelters today.

An intersection of two roads. The one on the left was made by a local company about 1900 and initially served as a logging skid road to access and remove the 500 yr old trees. The one on the right was a solid cedar plank road built by Japanese about 1918. By 1920, each road was a lined with small cabins to house the Japanese. 

Jasmin's excavation unit which we have been referring to as the "rock feature".

Bob mentioned that Willow showed him an old book (from 1960) on Japanese houses and gardens. The book showed a garden feature that may be similar to Jasmin's rock feature. It's a small, open-sided gazebo-like structure, with a wooden floor, open walls, and wood roof and water close by. We are not certain, but we think it's likely that the rocks that make up the walls of Jasmin's unit were used as a foundation for a structure a hundred years ago, similar to the one Willow found in the book.

At the lab, Evan continued with artifact cataloging, Alexis on level bag analysis, Meghan with illustrations (of the McKenzie Creek site as it may have looked in 1920) as well as another artifact drawing. Jasmin joined Willow on soil analysis while Dini worked on artifact displays (for the university as well as public educational presentations). Kitty worked on compiling her raw data for the Japanese and personal artifacts report. Rebecca and Mark took on the task of cleaning all of the field equipment with high pressure hoses and scrub brushes. Ryan (after his fieldwork) and Spencer M worked on their projects at home for the day.

A line drawing that I did of a Japanese medicine bottle found by Mark in the "cabin" area of the McKenzie Creek site. Kitty told me that the writing on the bottle are two versions of Japanese characters, one of them much more simple than the other.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

June 12th: Shovels Vs. Pencils

Today we had another visitor to the site, 2005 Field School Alumnus James Morfopoulos. Bob gave James the grand tour of the McKenzie Creek area. The rest of the crew in the field were backfilling all of the completed excavation units, except Jasmin who is still working on the Rock Feature. We are still not entirely sure what the rock area was used for, so instead of closing the unit we have decided to continue excavating it tomorrow to see if we can find any artifacts. Mark was able to take a video clip of Jasmin explaining what she has found in this unit as it is a particularly puzzling feature:

This photo of Jasmin in the rock feature earlier this week shows that the sediment in the top layer is mostly dirt and very little rock. 

This photo taken today shows the changes in sediment color and texture as the dig progresses:

We also started breaking camp today and brought one truckload of equipment out of the field. The remainder of the week will consist mainly of cleaning up the field site and bringing all of our gear back to the Capilano University campus.

Nathan backfilled his unit in the "industrial area" this week. He went the extra mile by planting some shrubs and lining the edges with rocks and moss. 

This is the "garden" unit that Willow has been working on.

Backfilling in the rain with Andrew and Ryan.

We had some expired bear spray on site so we decided to give it a try (for demonstration purposes only):

Meghan, Evan, Kitty and myself worked in the lab today. Kitty on her "Japanese and Personal Artifacts" report, Evan on the artifact catalog, while Meghan and I completed a few more line drawings.