Archaeology Site 2008: Elliot Park Neighborhood

Part of the yearly Elliot Park Neighborhood Archaeology Project, this site is located at 722-724 East 17th Street, just north of the I-35W/I-94 interchange. The 5 day dig is Aug 13th to 17th.

Site History

Journal Entries

Day 1 - Wednesday, August 13th 2008
Work began with about 27 volunteers digging 11 shovel tests of various depths. Artifacts that were found are normal domestic debris which include: clinker, coal, and various forms of broken glass. Towards the end of the day, two 1-squared meter excavation sites were opened. In one of the excavation sites, remnants of animal bone were found. Some of these bones, which probably belong to a goat or sheep, have butcher cuts on them.

Day 2 - Thursday, August 14th 2008
We had visitors and helpers from the Benedictine Health Center and a kids summer programs today. A few more shovel tests were done and another 1-meter-squared excavation site was opened. Site 1 found a large trash pit as well as remains of a large fish that someone must have buried after filleting. Site 2 found a few marbles, a jack, and a 14k gold button. Domestic remains were the most prominent of finds at sites 3 and 4. Among the 4 excavation sites, we have seen at least 8 separate soil layers, indicating that much of it was deposited. If there was farm use or Native American activities, it would show up about 65cm (2 feet) below the current ground level.

Day 3 - Friday, August 15th 2008
About 30 volunteers showed up to help with excavations today. Work continued on four excavation sites and a fifth one was opened. Site 1, discovered another trash pit below yesterdays pit. It was indicated by red soil and ash. At site 4, remnants of a board walk indicated by a series of nails and a soil stains, which indicate wood, were found. Other finds include more marbles, clay flower pots, ceramic bits, and a few metal bits such as a drawer handle and snapper were found. We have not seen as much animal remains as we were expecting in the beginning of the project. Tomorrow, several sites expect to break the original ground level, at about 2 feet below ground.

Day 4 - Saturday August 16th, 2008
Several of the excavation units broke through the level the soil was before the house was built. Artifacts relating to the consturction of the house were found, this included items such as plaster spills and square-head nails. Also, in these pits, a piece of glass from a bottle of old patent medicine, with the letters BL embossed on it was found. These are usually rectangular bottles with the name of the medicine or the makers of the medicine embossed on the bottle. In unit 1, what we thought was a trash pit, turned out to be a thin layer of burned material on the yard. We opened the last unit for excavation today, it is also our western most unit now. Tomorrow we will work on finishing excavation of the units and drawing profiles of the stratigraphy of the units.

Day 5 - Sunday August 17th, 2008
Today, unfortunatly, marked our last day on the site. While most unit dug in the morning, we had to wrap up around midday to ensure we would get clean up done. It was also a day of not many finds, since we broke through the original ground. The earth we reached was undisturbed during construction of the house, and was intact after many centuries. Unit 2 found two pits inside their site, however, they had to wrap up so the purpose of the pits as well as the complete depth is unknown. The wrap up procedure consited of carefully making profile drawings of each of the stratigraphies as well as figuring out the color of the soil according to the Munsell Chart. After the mapping of each unit was complete soil was shoveled back into the pit.

Day by Day Project Breakdown

Wednesday and Thursday -- Site Preparation
Out work on Wednesday and Thursday will be to get the site ready for excavation. We will survey in an excavation grid -- an imaginary grid of one-meter squares, used for guiding excavation and mapping. We will be placing portable fencing along the edges of the lot. There will also be some preliminary mapping and photography. Equipment and supplies will be brought to the site. As time allows, we will also begin excavation of a couple 1 x 1 meter units, probably on Thursday afternoon.

Friday and Saturday -- Excavation
On Friday and Saturday, we will do the bulk of the actual excavation. Excavators will work in teams that include an archaeologist, one or more archaeology students or experienced volunteers, and community volunteers. Each team will work on excavating a particular 1 x 1 meter unit, or a feature such as a utility trench, artifact concentration, cistern, or privy pit. This will involve digging with both a shovel and a trowel (the archaeologist's standard digging tools), and also screening all soil that is excavated in order to maximize recovery of artifacts. Other volunteers will also help with the screening. Volunteers can also help with note taking and drawing sketch maps of excavation units.

On these days we will also need volunteers to staff a sign-in and information table, and to guide tours of public visitors. Guides will be provided with information on basic archaeological techniques, and on the history of the site. Some volunteers will also be needed for helping with miscellaneous tasks and running last minute errands.
On these days there will also be volunteers working on jobs like mapping and photography.

Sunday -- Loose Ends and Clean Up
On Sunday we will be finishing up excavation that couldn't be finished on Friday and Saturday, and the accompanying tasks like mapping and photography. We will clean field equipment and get it ready to return. We will make sure that all the records and artifacts are in order -- that they are complete, correctly labeled, and so on. We will backfill all excavated areas, remove grid stakes, and move fencing as needed.

Hours
The general hours will be from about 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on the days of the excavation. You are welcome to volunteer for as few or as many hours as you like. It is helpful if we know when you plan on being at the site --by day and by morning or afternoon. This helps us with planning so we can make things run as smoothly as possible. Of course you're always free to change your mind.

What to bring and what to expect
If you are going to help excavate, plan on getting dirty. Wear clothes and shoes that can get dirty too. You may want to bring gloves and a gardener's pad to kneel on. It wouldn't hurt to bring coffee, water, iced tea or something else to quench your thirst, although we'll try to have plenty of water on hand for volunteers. Sun screen is a good idea, as is a handkerchief or something similar to wipe the sweat from your eyes. A hat can be helpful for shading your face from the sun. Feel free to bring your camera if you like. You may also want to bring lunch or a snack.
Archaeology involves all kinds of tasks. Some are delicate, painstaking and take a fair bit of patience. Some are hard physical work. You will get to observe and try your hand at a variety of tasks, based on your interests and abilities. Hopefully you will find the whole process interesting and rewarding. The archaeologists volunteering on the project will instruct you on the how and why of archaeological methods, so don't be afraid to ask questions.





Address: 722 17th Street E
Neighborhood/s: Elliot Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota
City/locality-
State/province
Minneapolis, Minnesota
County-
State/province:
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1893
Founded by: D.R. Wagner
Historic Function: Housing development
Current Function: Historic site

Archaeological Site Information
Archaeological Site ID Number: XXXXX
Start Date of Fieldwork: August 13, 2008
Site Features: earthwork
Site Description: artifact scatter
Site Landuse: residential
Degree of Disturbance: heavy
Current Threats to Site: development

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