News

2018 Field Season Underway, Finally!

After a cold start to spring and a delayed start to the field season, The Castle Museum Archaeology Crew has finally made it back out to the Steltzriede Farm site! For those of you new to the blog, the Steltzriede Farm site was settled by Henry and Katherine Steltzriede in 1838. According to family tradition, they lived in a log cabin/house for 10 years before moving into a frame house on the same property. Our work at the site has focused on locating the original structure and associated material from the initial decade or two of the Steltzriede occupation. In 2016 we first identified a cellar thought to be associated with the cabin. Previous accounts of our work at the Steltzriede Farm site can be seen here, here, here, and elsewhere on this blog.

Last Friday, Brad Jarvis and I began excavation of 537N 490E, a 1 meter X 1 meter excavation unit located above the previously identified cellar. Unfortunately, we were only able to complete two levels before a last gasp of winter-like weather (sleet and rain) forced us to close up for the day.

Location of Unit 537N 490E

Despite the inclement conditions, we started off the season with an unexpected find… an Early Archaic bifurcate point! Although we have previously found a few flakes, FCR, and a biface fragment, this is the first diagnostic prehistoric artifact we have found on the site. Having been recovered directly above the cellar, we can be certain that the point is not in its original depositional context. However, there is no reason to think the cellar was filled with material brought in from off-site after the structure was abandoned. To the contrary, many other (Historic Period) items previously found in the cellar fill closely match the 19th century artifacts found elsewhere on the site. So, it is quite possible, even likely, that the cellar fill is derived from the immediate surrounding area and that an Early Archaic component is present at the site.

Early Archaic Bifurcate Point from fill above cellar.

We also encountered two large cobbles along the south edge of the excavation unit. They, too, were a bit of a surprise as we haven’t previously found similar material in this part of the site. Given their context in the cellar fill, the cobbles may have been structural debris, or they may have been found elsewhere on the site and simply buried here to get them out of the way.

Unit 537N 490E, 20 cm floor

Other than a few square nails and some slag/cinders, little additional material was found in the first two levels. However, we are just getting started, so check back often for additional updates as the field season progresses!

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Michigan Archaeological Society Meeting Thursday, 5 April 2018

The April meeting of the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society Will be held Thursday,  5 March 2018, at 7:00 pm, here at the Castle Museum. See the official announcement, copied below, for details on what is certain to be an interesting and informative program. As always, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

 

Saginaw Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society

April Chapter meeting, Thursday, April 5, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

The Morley Room, Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, 500 Federal Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48607

Current Research Status of the Hipwater Locale: A Parkhill Phase Paleoindian Retooling Location

Presented by:
William A. Lovis, Michigan State University

Abstract: The Hipwater Locale is a small Parkhill phase Paleoindian site, or one part of a larger site, located in south central Michigan. There is a limited assemblage of fluted Barnes bifaces, unfluted bifaces, core fragments, and fire cracked rock, with at least one major group of refits. The site location and the small assemblage were subjected to a range of different analyses, including interpretation of site location and integrity, stages of organization of lithic reduction, protein residue analysis, microwear analysis, and pXRF elemental analysis of tool stone sources. Current outcomes of these various analyses are reported and a preliminary synthesis will be undertaken.

The March meeting was canceled due to weather. The decision to cancel was made late in the day, and while steps were taken to contact members, several persons did not receive notification. We apologize for the inconvenience that this caused. A gentle reminder: if you have not submitted an email address or telephone number we will not be able to contact you in the event of a future cancellation.

Michigan Archaeological Society Meeting Thursday, 1 March 2018

The March meeting of the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society is fast approaching. Thursday, March 1st, Dr. William Lovis of Michigan State University will present an overview of current research on the Hipwater Locale: A Parkhill Phase Paleoindian retooling location in south central Michigan. See the official announcement, copied below, for more details on what is certain to be an interesting and informative program. As always, the public welcome and encouraged to attend.
Saginaw Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society March Chapter meeting, Thursday, March 1, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The Morley Room, Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, 500 Federal Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48607

Current Research Status of the Hipwater Locale: A Parkhill Phase Paleoindian Retooling Location  
Presented by: William A. Lovis, Michigan State University
 
Alphabetically coauthored by:  Alan F. Arbogast, Michigan State University,  Dillon H. Carr, Grand Rapids Community College,  Randolph E. Donahue, Bradford University,  G. William Monaghan, Indiana University  Jenny L. B. Milligan, PaleoResearch, Inc., Frank J. Raslich, Michigan State University.   
 
Abstract:  The Hipwater Locale is a small Parkhill phase Paleoindian site, or one part of a larger site, located in south central Michigan.  There is a limited assemblage of fluted Barnes bifaces, unfluted bifaces, core fragments, and fire cracked rock, with at least one major group of refits.  The site location and the small assemblage were subjected to a range of different analyses, including interpretation of site location and integrity, stages of organization of lithic reduction, protein residue analysis, microwear analysis, and pXRF elemental analysis of tool stone sources.  Current outcomes of these various analyses are reported and a preliminary synthesis will be undertaken. 

Archaeology Volunteer Recognized!

And the highly coveted Historical Society of Saginaw County Volunteer of the Year award goes to………………..

NICK BACON!!!

Archaeology volunteer extraordinaire Nick Bacon, along with two others, received the award during  the Historical Society’s Annual Meeting on Saturday. At an institution with a roster of 180 volunteers who donated over 7,800 hours of service last year, this is no small accomplishment!

Nick filling out collection bags during the Swan Creek Survey.

For those who don’t know Nick, over the past three years he has become a valued member of the archaeology team. Since 2015 he has logged over 500 hours in the field and many more in the lab. Nick can always be counted on to lend a hand when needed, bringing his experience from working on numerous archaeological projects in Michigan, several states in the Eastern U. S. and as far away as Belize.

Nick and Jana hard at work in the lab.

As any archaeologist can attest, field work is not always easy, or pleasant. Conditions are often cold and wet, or hot and dry. Mud, mosquitoes, poison ivy, and thorny vegetation are frequent companions. Nick meets such conditions with a shrug and a smile and gets the job done. A memorable outing last fall consisted of walking more than two miles off-trail to a remote part of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, salvaging two important features that were eroding into the river, and then hiking back out with backpacks and buckets stuffed full of wet soil samples! Not many would return after that “adventure”, but Nick was back the next week ready for more! (That in itself probably merits this award!)

Nick, with Roxanne, giving the “thumbs up” at the Steltzriede Farm site.

In 2017 Nick expanded his range of contributions to the museum to include working with the museum’s historical collections, digitizing photographs and entering collection records into the database. Over the past two decades, we’ve had some truly extraordinary individuals donate their time, effort, and expertise to the archaeology program at the Castle Museum. Nick is continuing that tradition and definitely deserves this recognition as a Volunteer of the Year!

CONGRATULATIONS NICK!!!

 

Archaeological Society Meeting, 1 February 2018

The February meeting of the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society will be held at the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History on Thursday, 1 February 2018, at 7:00 PM. Dr. Scott Beld will share his research related to excavations at the Early Woodland Arthursburg Hill site in Ionia County. The title of Dr. Beld’s talk is: The Arthursburg Hill Earthwork Enclosure: An Early Woodland (ca. 400 B.C.) Fortified Village in central Michigan.  With a construction date of around 400 B.C., this enclosure is the earliest known in Michigan (other earthwork enclosures in Michigan are from the Late Woodland Period).

To whet your appetite for the program, here are a few Early Woodland biface types (projectile points and knives) from various sites in the Saginaw Valley.

Early Woodland bifaces found in Saginaw County.

And we can’t talk about the Early Woodland Period without showing an example of some Early Woodland ceramics…

Early Woodland ceramics from Saginaw County.

As always, the public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Michigan Archaeological Society Meeting, 4 January 2018

Come start the new year right with the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society! The first meeting of 2018 will be held Thursday evening, 4 January, at 7 o’clock, here at the Castle Museum. Tim Bennett will discuss recent efforts involving the relocation, restoration, and archaeological research of the Hicks School. As always the public is invited and encouraged to attend! The official chapter announcement is copied below:

SVC January meeting notice:

The January meeting of the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society will be on Thursday, January 4, 2018, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., in the Morley Room, of the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, 500 Federal Ave., Saginaw, MI 48607.

Tim Bennett will present “The Three Rs: Relocation, Restoration, and archaeological Research of the Hicks School”.

The timber frame Hicks school was built in 1849 near Pinckney, MI.  It was used for a variety of purposes including school classes until 1972.  The deteriorating structure was slated for demolition in 2015 to make way for the construction of duplexes.  However, the nearly 170 year old school was saved by moving it 21 miles to the Warner pioneer homestead in Brighton.  Tim will discuss challenges with relocation, the ongoing restoration process, and archaeological research conducted at the former school site.  Artifacts from the school will be on display.

Michigan Archaeological Society meeting Thursday, 2 November 2017

The November meeting of the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the Michigan Archaeological Society will be held Thursday, 2 November 2017 at 7:00 pm here at the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History. Long-time chapter member Bernie Spencer will be presenting a program on the Ike Davidson site. Bernie describes the program as follows:

“Reflections on the Ike Davidson Site, a mixed Late Woodland site adjacent to the Cass River, occupying the bottom of the floodplain from two to four feet above the present water level. The entirety of my collections from the site will be available for observation at the meeting. This site was totally removed as part of the Cass River Dike Project in 2011. My collections began in 1957 and ended with the total destruction of the site in 2011.”

One of many Late Woodland Rimsherds from the Ike Davidson Site, Saginaw County, Michigan.

Bernie’s collection from this site includes an impressive array of Late Woodland (and some probably earlier) ceramics, projectile points and other flaked stone tools, and ground stone artifacts, all of which will be on display at the meeting.

As always, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend. You won’t want to miss this one!