There is Something Fishy about this Privy

It’s official… the fish skeletal material recovered from the Saint’s Rest privy, the toilet associated with the first dormitory on campus contained walleye! Walleye. Image source. Walleye are the largest member of the perch family and can be caught in shallow bays and inland lakes. As there are plenty of inland lakes surrounding East Lansing, …

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Let’s Make Botany Hip Again: Building Beal’s Botanical Laboratory, Part 1

The tragic fate of Michigan Agricultural College’s first Botanical Laboratory is the stuff of campus lore. Built in 1879, it burned to the ground in March of 1890 when a defective flue—and, legend has it, incompetent graduate students—contributed to a fire in the building’s attic. The Campus Archaeology Program has conducted several brief investigations of …

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Hunting and Gathering on Campus

As I began my archival research about food in the Early Period (1855-1870) I continued to run across stories about students activities on campus related to food procurement. While the students paid weekly for room and board, they also supplemented their diet by hunting on campus and gathered berries and other fruit from the surrounding …

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Feast your Eyes on This: Banquets and Changing Cuisine at MSU (or: How I Wish I Could Time Travel to 1884 and Eat All the Cake)

During a recent visit to the MSU Archives, I was beginning my search through records pertaining to food and came across a rather interesting folder containing programs for various MSU and other local banquets. These programs all featured menus for the event, and demonstrate changes in taste and cuisine over time. Naturally, they piqued my …

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Combing Through the Artifacts

While Lisa Bright and I were accessioning artifacts from the West Circle Drive privy excavation, we noticed that one of the short combs had some lettering. Faint, tiny print spelled out, “IRC CO. G YEARS” with a few other letters (or numbers) that we could not read. Some quick Googling brought up the India Rubber …

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Excavating behind Old Hort

We had a busy summer here at CAP. We were able to excavate at some interesting and important places such as the Abbott Entrance and Beals first botanical lab. Our last project area for the summer was behind the Old Horticulture building on north campus. IPF was planning to repave part of the Lot #7 parking …

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CAP Summer Work Update #2

Since we last checked in we’ve had a busy week and a half.  The Abbot entrance landscape rejuvenation project is coming to a close, so we’ve been able to finish work there and move onto testing other research questions. U.S. Weather Bureau  Although the rejuvenation construction was not directly impacting the north west corner of the …

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Two Bottles of Beer in the Ground: The MSU Connection to PH Kling and the Brewing Barons of Detroit

PH Kling Brewery Bottle Fragment – Gunson Unit D This past week, Lisa, the Campus Archaeologist, discovered fragment of two different beer bottles in the assemblage excavated from the remains of Professor Thomas Gunson’s household. The embossed words “PH Kling” appear on both fragments, although in different fonts, and an internet search quickly brought up …

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Canning on Campus

Complete Mason Jar from Gunson Unit A To say that the Gunson assemblage has a lot of glass is an understatement. So far, having fully cataloged one unit and being close to half way through another we have been encountering condiment jars, drinking glasses, medicine bottles, window glass, lab glass, and many fragments of canning …

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Water Sanitation at MSU

Given the national focus on the Flint water crisis, where I am a resident, I thought I would take a closer look at water safety and its conveyance within MSU. Water and its safe supply has been a concern for human populations for thousands of years from the Neolithic into the present (history of water …

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