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Arch 1900: The Archaeology of College Hill
Class Meeting, Monday 3-5:20 Section, TBD (mandatory!)
Instructor: Krysta Ryzewski Office: RI Hall 212 Office Hours: Email: Krysta_Ryzewski@brown.edu
TA: Alex Knodell Office: RI Hall Graduate Room & TA Office Office Hours: Email: Alex_Knodell@brown.edu
Undergraduate TA: Elise Nuding Office: RI Hall TA Office Email: Elise_Nuding@brown.edu
This course is an introduction to the practice and process of archaeological fieldwork. Students will learn the foundational methods of archaeological recovery: survey, mapping, documentation, excavation, artifact identification and artifact interpretation. The fieldwork will also extend beyond the excavation trenches. Students will engage with issues of presentation and representation, interact with non-professional audiences and descendant communities, become familiar with political and ethical challenges, and integrate data from other sources into their research (i.e. documents, oral histories, museum collections).
The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to a variety of archaeological field methods, stewardship issues, and sub-specialties within the discipline (i.e. geophysics, archaeometry, faunal analysis, heritage management). As part of the course requirements, students will maintain a wiki, complete final projects, and participate in community archaeology days. Ultimately, this class will prepare students to navigate the process and dynamics of fieldwork, no matter where in the world they practice archaeology.
The structure of this course is designed to expose students with little or no archaeological experience to the hands-on aspects of being an archaeologist, from the planning stages of survey and excavation, to the recovery of data in the field, to its processing and analysis in the lab, and to the final stages of interpreting, researching and publishing the results of the work. The class has a capped enrollment, and preference must go to upper class undergraduate concentrators in the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and in Anthropology. Permission to register for students who have not pre-enrolled may be given by the Instructor after the first class meeting.
The first eight weeks will focus on survey and excavation at the John Brown House. The remainder of the course will be dedicated to work in the laboratory and archives, recording and analyzing the recovered finds. There will also be an additional mandatory 1-hour section each week, which will involve discussions about the fieldwork, readings, and to process materials. The time and location of this section meeting will be determined during the first week of class. The class will meet weekly at the John Brown House until the excavations are completed in November, then we will convene weekly in the Archaeology Lab, Room 303 of the Metcalf Chemistry Building (corner of Waterman & Thayer).
Critical Responses (7): 35% (5 points each) Final Project: 25% Wiki Maintenance: 10% Attendance and Participation: 30%
Grades will be based on several assignments and on participation:
• In lieu of weekly quizzes, students will submit a one-page critical reaction paper responding to a question posed about the weekly readings. Readings are posted on the wiki and available on reserve in the Joukowsky Institute library. Questions will be posted online on Mondays. This response will be due online before the section meeting. Late postings will not be accepted.
• Each student will maintain an individual fieldwork blog on the wiki, which they are expected to update with a short entry weekly. Additionally, each week 1-2 students will be assigned responsibility for maintaining the project wiki. This will involve updating the excavation and unit summaries.
• Final projects will be discussed during Week 6. Students will conduct independent research using excavated and archival materials. During the course of the final project research, students will be required to meet with the Instructor and TA once, and will submit one rough draft of their work to date by Week 10. The results of the final projects will become part of a volume presented to the Rhode Island Historical Society and posted on the wiki upon completion of the course. In some cases, the results may also become part of an exhibit displayed in the John Brown house galleries.
• Participation requirements for this course are perhaps more stringent than in other courses, due to the nature of our hands-on work. Archaeological fieldwork is a team effort, and your classmates and Instructor rely on regular attendance in order to meet the goals of the fieldwork in a thorough and timely manner. A student with more than one unexcused absence will be required to withdraw from the course. An excused absence is acceptable when accompanied by a note from a doctor, coach, or other appropriate academic authority.
Archaeological fieldwork is physically demanding and often involves heavy lifting, shoveling, and prolonged periods of working in squatted or bent postures. Students should be in a fit state to excavate. Anyone with health concerns that may limit their range of activity in the field is required to notify the Instructor on the first day of class. It is most important that students recognize their physical limits to prevent causing or aggravating existing injuries; there are always plenty of other important fieldwork tasks available.
Likewise, archaeological fieldwork and labwork demands careful attention to detail, and, above all, patience. Archaeology is a destructive process, and it is extremely important that each detail of the excavations is recorded thoroughly and accurately. We are never in a rush to excavate soil or materials from the ground before they are properly documented in situ. Students must follow the excavation instructions given by the Instructor or TA. Anyone who does not follow the proper excavation pace and labwork procedures will be withdrawn from the course.
This should be a fun experience for all involved, but we also must be mindful that we are representing Brown University to the public, to the museum visitors, to the staff of the Rhode Island Historical Society, and to the media. Please treat one another with respect and take the time to speak with visitors courteously. Foul language, inappropriate behavior, and visits to the excavation areas unaccompanied by the Instructor or TA will not be tolerated. It should go without saying that the John Brown house is a privately-owned property, and that any behavior that conflicts with their policies is unacceptable.
Finally, the basic universal rules of field behavior apply. Students must be dressed appropriately in order to excavate. Open-toed shoes and partial clothing are not allowed. We are going to be rugged archaeologists, and will work in all weather conditions, rain or shine. Be prepared with appropriate rain gear, boots, sunscreen, hats, water bottles, etc. Keep track of your equipment at all times and the location of the excavation units in order to prevent injury. Never, ever, lean or sit on the sidewall of a unit, or sit on the ground within a unit. Always take the initiative to ask questions, to pick up after yourself, and to stow equipment in the storage location after the day’s work is completed. Everyone must contribute equally to cleaning up the site after each day of fieldwork before anyone can depart. Be a team player and enjoy yourselves!
Background: the John Brown House:
The John Brown House is a museum owned and operated by the Rhode Island Historical Society. As the RIHS notes, “the house was one of America's grandest mansions when completed in 1788. The house, at 52 Power Street, was home first to John Brown, a businessman, patriot, politician, China Trade pioneer and slave trader, who participated in the debates and practices that shaped the new nation and the world. However, this is more than an eighteenth century mansion. It was the home of John Brown's daughters, their families, and their caretakers (see rihs.org).” This was the Brown family town house until the mid-nineteenth century; their country estate at Spring Green in Warwick remains in the family’s ownership and has been the focus of ongoing archaeology since 2004, as part of the Greene Farm Archaeology Project (see: http://proteus.brown.edu/greenefarm/Home). In the mid-nineteenth century, the Brown family transferred ownership of the Power Street property to the Gammell family, who used the mansion as their winter residence. Then, at the turn of the twentieth century, the mansion was purchased and transformed by Marsden Perry, the formidable Providence utility, real estate and trolley mogul.
John Brown and his three brothers were pioneers of several industries in Early Republican America, including: shipbuilding, slave trading, chocolate-making, rum distilling, ironworking, whaling, candle-making, and international commerce in luxury goods (i.e. silk, porcelain, spices). By the late-eighteenth century, John Brown was a global businessman and one of the most profitable traders in the world, due in part to his frequent journeys to China, India, and the West Indies. The Browns were ambitious entrepreneurs in an emerging capitalist society; their meticulous record-keeping and shrewd managerial strategies provide us with a vast documentary archaeological record, one of the largest private archival collections of early American mercantile activities in the world.
As an urban landscape exposed to centuries of household activities, this semester’s archaeological excavations on the John Brown house property will unearth many exciting traces of past buildings, people, material culture, and landscape transformations.
Texts: These are available at the Brown University Bookstore, and on reserve in the Joukowsky Institute Library (3rd floor).
Roskams, Steve. 2001 Excavation. Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology, CUP: Cambridge.
Deetz, James. 1996  In Small Things Forgotten: and archaeology of early American life. Anchor: New York.
Mrozowski, S., G. Ziesing, and M. Beaudry. 1996 Living on the Boott: historical archaeology at the Boott Mills Boardinghouse, Lowell, MA. University of Massachusetts Press: Amherst.
Articles: posted as PDFs on the wiki (see below)
click here for Schedule of classes and readings
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