Monday, May 25, 2020

Archaeology dig unveils artifacts from first campus building

October 20, 2011

An archaeological dig on campus, which took place this summer, revealed that students today might not be that different from MSU students 100 years ago.

“We have found walls that have names carved into them from the 1800s,” said graduate student and campus archaeologist Katy Meyers.

“Smoking was not allowed on campus, but we found evidence of pipes — so students (were) breaking the rules a little bit.”

The excavation took place just west of Beaumont Tower and was part of an educational program for archaeology students held by the Campus Archaeology Program.

The program holds educational dig sites such as this one to help teach students about field methods and processes in archaeology, Meyers said.

“At the same time, it also gives us a chance to look at part of MSU’s campus that is known to be historic,” she said.

About 25 graduate and undergraduate students participated in the five-week dig, said Lynne Goldstein, director of the Campus Archaeology Program.

Goldstein and Meyers will be showing their findings at 1 p.m. this Saturday at the Michigan Historical Museum, 702 W. Kalamazoo St., in Lansing.

The students also found artifacts including test tubes, chemistry equipment, pottery and glassware, Meyers said.

The goal of the excavation was to find a trash pit from College Hall, which was the first building built on MSU’s campus in 1856 and stood near where Beaumont Tower is today, she said.

Part of the building collapsed in 1918 and it was torn down soon afterward.One of the best ways to learn about cultures from a previous era is to look for their trash, Goldstein said.

“You might say all we’re doing is digging for people’s garbage, but it’s true,” she said.

The most interesting thing that was discovered at the excavation, however, doesn’t relate to MSU at all, Goldstein said.

“We found an archaeological site that is prehistoric and dates to about 1500 to 3000 B.C.,” she said.

The students found arrowheads at the site dating back to prehistoric times, and they believe the site they discovered was a former fire pit used by native people.

It’s beneficial to learn about the history of the land MSU’s campus stands upon, social relations and policy senior Josh Miller said. The excavation also provided students with great hands-on experience at the same time, he said.

“If they’re going to do that in the future — be archaeologists — then it’s interesting to practice here and find out (MSU’s) history while you’re practicing.”

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