Update on Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 Research

Greetings from Dr. Stacey Camp! I am happy to announce that we have moved and settled in to our new Historical Archaeology Laboratory here at the University of Idaho over the past semester and a half.

Sara Galbraith cleaning and rehousing glass artifacts found at the Kooskia Internment Camp.

We are so happy to have this new space to perform our research. Dr. Priscilla Wegars was also kind enough to allow us to move her archival documents on Kooskia (that she used to write her excellent book on the site’s history) into our lab. This will be such a great resource for researchers on the project. It is rare that an entire project’s archives are accessible a few feet away from the site’s artifacts. Usually archaeologists have to spend lots of time and money traveling to libraries and archives to obtain information on their site. We also received documents on the site’s federal prison (Canyon Creek Federal Prison), including a few maps that should prove useful in determining the function of the building we uncovered this past summer. Undergraduate employee Josh Allen also built an archaeobotanical tank (“float tank”) from scratch for us to process the soil samples we collected this summer. We tested it out and it works, so thanks so much Josh!

An artificial/fake tooth found at the Kooskia Internment Camp, likely from the dentistry activities that took place at the camp.

In addition, we held a reading group on the archaeology of institutions this past semester and had a number of great discussions on the similarities and differences between a variety of institutional settings (e.g. prisons, other internment camps, boarding schools, etc.).

Throughout the academic year, I have been busy writing grants to fund future research on the Kooskia Internment Camp, working on a site report detailing the first field season’s research, and giving talks on our preliminary findings. Last September, I was honored to be the keynote speaker for the Idaho Archaeological Society’s annual conference in Boise. There, I discussed the importance of the Kooskia Internment Camp to Idahoan history. I also spoke about the Kooskia Internment Camp at the Society for Historical Archaeology’s annual conference in Austin, Texas, this past January and will be presenting additional data at the Society for American Archaeology’s annual conference this coming April.

Fragments of improved whiteware ceramic bowls (also known as "institutional wares") found at the site.

So what have we been up to in terms of labwork? Once the artifacts from the project are in the University of Idaho’s new historical archaeology laboratory and not in the field, they were sorted and cleaned before being cataloged and analyzed. Sorting and cleaning involves separating out artifacts into different material types (for instance, glass in one bag, metal in another) while still maintaining the artifacts’ provenience information. When we were in the field, each artifact was bagged by the location it was found on the site of the Kooskia Internment Camp. Each artifact bag has the site name, the year the artifact was excavated, the geographic location on the site it was found based on GPS coordinates, how far down in the ground the artifact was found (for instance, 10 centimeters below surface), and who excavated or bagged it. This information is very important to archaeologists like myself, who are interested in examining if certain types of artifacts are being deposited in specific locations on site. Artifact concentrations can help archaeologists decipher the function of specific areas on the site. For example, if we find a large concentration of dishwares, flatware, and animal bones in one part of the site, we might assume that the occupants were eating in that particular spot or, at the very least, dumping their household waste in that location. This is why it is so important that an artifact’s provenience be recorded.

Artifacts waiting to be cleaned and sorted.

 

We were fortunate to have a number of staff and volunteer researchers help assist with this initial processing. Brian Schneider, an M.A. student in our department, acted as a research assistant for the entire semester. Julia Altman, Jamie Capawana, Sara Galbraith, and Kali Warren volunteered time on the project. Josh Allen and Paige Davies acted as undergraduate laboratory assistants. Students taking my ANTH 431/531: Introduction to Historical Archaeology course last semester helped out immensely with the project by spending their weekends cleaning and sorting artifacts in preparation for cataloging.

 

Students in my ANTH 431/531: Introduction to Historical Archaeology course helping to sort and clean artifacts from the Kooskia Internment Camp.

We were fortunate to have a number of staff and volunteer researchers help assist with this initial processing. Brian Schneider, an M.A. student in our department, acted as a research assistant for the entire semester. Julia Altman, Jamie Capawana, Sara Galbraith, and Kali Warren volunteered time on the project. Josh Allen and Paige Davies acted as undergraduate laboratory assistants. Students taking my ANTH 431/531: Introduction to Historical Archaeology course last semester helped out immensely with the project by spending their weekends cleaning and sorting artifacts in preparation for cataloging.

 

Two fragments of Japanese internee artwork found at the Kooskia Internment Camp. Check back on the blog for more information on these artifacts in the upcoming months!

All of this work has allowed us to start to catalog the collection, which is a major component of my ANTH 432/532: Historic Artifact Analysis course offered this spring semester (2011). Students enrolled in the course will be responsible for designing a poster detailing a set of artifacts from the project and presenting it to our class. As part of the course requirements, students will be posting blogs detailing their research and experiences in the class. We are looking forward to sharing more about our research and findings at the camp!

Gaming pieces found at the Kooskia Internment Camp.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: