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June 10, 2015

Kristin Doshier: No, I’m not digging for dinosaurs

June 10, 2015

Kristin Doshier is a senior majoring in anthropology with a focus on linguistics in the College of Social Science. She hopes to be able to travel the world and learn multiple languages. She is currently taking part in MSU's Campus Archaeology Field School.

Since this is my first field school and first time doing anything archaeology related I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I had an idea of what we would be doing and I was excited to finally start and tell my family and friends about it, but most of them had something different in their minds.

When other people asked me what I was doing this summer I would tell them I was doing a field school. Once I realized that nobody knew what that meant I started to tell people I would be doing an archaeological dig. Once again people did not quite understand what I meant by that. Some people thought that I would simply be digging holes in the dirt for no reason; while others thought I would be digging for dinosaurs. So I decided to simply let people think what they want until I started the field school and could explain to them what we were doing.

I was a little surprised when I first started this field school. Instead of being in a classroom reading and learning about techniques, we went straight to the field. This allowed us to get started right away and get the hands-on experience we were all hoping for. Of course I knew that we would be in the field learning and working, but I thought that we would start in the classroom for at least a couple days. However, I am so glad that we were able to start at the site right away because it made the whole experience real to me and I was able to learn so much in such a short amount of time.

In just one short week we have learned so many skills and different techniques. Everything we do must be very precise and recorded so we have learned how to use a compass, take elevation levels, mapping and how to improve our note taking. I’ve even learned that there are different techniques to using a shovel and trowel.

For example, for level one we are trying to level out the floor of our pit to about 10 cm down. Instead of just taking the shovel and digging out the entire pit, we shovel skim to take layer by layer off and screen for artifacts. Since our pit has so many roots in it, we are not able to skim the surface so we have to use our trowels for most of the area. While this takes more time I am learning the correct way to hold my trowel and how to get better control of it.

So far this field school has taught me a lot of new skills and it has been a lot of fun. When we find artifacts from our pit it makes all the troweling worth it. So even though we are not finding dinosaur bones, we have been finding small shards of glass or pieces of ceramics. It’s exciting to think that we are finding things that nobody has seen is so many years and these artifacts could have a great history behind them. I can’t wait to learn more and see what else we find in our pits.

Reprinted from the MSU Campus Archaeology Field School blog

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