Student Blog #1: Brittany Hardy

Today’s post is the first of our student blogs. The past two years we’ve asked students to volunteer and write a post about their experiences taking the field methods course. This year we’re making it a requirement since it gives them a chance to really think about their work as well as put names and faces to our field crew.

Brittany is a 4th year clinical laboratory sciences major. Not all of our students are necessarily studying to be archaeologists.

Hello everyone! My name is Brittany Hardy, and I am a 4th year clinical laboratory sciences major taking the field school as a general education course. I gained interest in the field school after taking a previous class with Dr. Sam Sweitz.

It has been interesting connecting my major to archeology and the field school. I especially enjoy connecting things like anatomy and clinical chemistry to the different animal bones we find. Lee Sweitz encourages this interest by helping me ID what type of bone it is (ex: femur vs. vertebra). Another connection I’m making is the LARGE amount of paperwork that is required. In CLS we are told if it’s not written down, it was never done. This seems to be the same with archaeology.

A small sample of the types of bone Brittany and the students are finding while digging shovel test pits (STPs).

We started to dig at the stamp mill to the west of last year’s dig. We are trying to compare what they found to known pictures and to find a LONG wall. While at the stamp mill I was part of the team that found what may be a floor. As Carol, Travis, and I were digging we found what seems to be floorboards and some in situ nails, but had to quit early that day due to rain. We were pretty bummed to stop as we weren’t returning for a couple of days.

The next Wednesday (our monday) I had another class so I wan’t there for the complete uncovering of the layer, but I did make it in time for the paperwork. I took measurements while Travis drew. I do have to say he is pretty good at it. Carol and Alejandra were over working on the opening drawings to for the units to the East of last year’s digging.

I’ve also been apart of a the team in Clifton where I’ve helped to lay out grids and perform shovel test pit (STP) excavations. These STP’s are to help determine what went on in the daily life of those in Clifton. We are primarily interested in the food network of Clifton. We finished STP’s in a larger building (Lee called it the “Captain’s House”) and have moved onto medium-sized housing. We want to get samples from multiple different areas of Clifton to ensure we get multiple social groups.

Clifton does seem to have a high water table, which most of the class has experienced while walking through swampy areas. It is tough to dig the STP’s in swampy areas because if you kneel down you get wet, and no one wants that. I’m sure glad my boots are very waterproof. I’m pretty sure Dr. Sweitz wishes he had taller boots when his bridge across the ditch failed.

There are TONS of collector pits out there. I have unexpectedly stepped into a few and it isn’t pleasant. Roger plans on mapping most of the pits to show the public how much is being taken from the area that isn’t being recorded.When people take so much from the area we lose context. Without context we can’t fully understand what happened at Clifton. It also takes away from the beauty of the place. Most of the pits aren’t filled back in and leave large holes in the ground. One thing we do is back fill, so it doesn’t affect the aesthetics nearly as much.

I’m looking forward to new findings and the tours. Hope to see everyone at Cliff.  Come visit us during our open houses in June!  There is information here.

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About Sean Gohman

Currently a PhD Degree seeking student in the Michigan Tech University's Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program.

3 responses to “Student Blog #1: Brittany Hardy”

  1. Joe Dancy says :

    Thanks Brittany, very interesting.

  2. Lee Sweitz says :

    Great post Brittany. So good to see that you are making connections between your work in biology and your work in archaeology. Here’s hoping we find even more animal bones!

  3. Travis Slooter says :

    Great post!

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