The University of Minnesota connection continues to supply plenty of rewards. This week a Masters student, Joe Pnewski, began an archaeology class at the farm. Being a student of business, archaeology is all new to me. But, like most people, I am intrigued with the process. The most common question I have gotten from people is, “what are you looking for?” That question is a hard one for me to answer. It really isn’t about what we are looking for, as in a nail or a plate. It is more about looking for answers to questions. For example, where was the chicken house, or the work shop. We have photos from the 1930’s, but by then Peterson had been dead about 40 years. A lot changes in that amount of time.
Joe, first did a survey of the land. He was looking for things that might indicate buildings once were there; an indention in the land for example. Once the places of suspicion were located, he brought his class out and made a grid of the land. Next shovel tests were done. The sod, about the size of your foot was removed. The soil was dug about a foot deep. Each shovel full was put through a sieve, where the soil and items could be separated. Out of the first hole, several nails, a piece of glass and a button were found. Quite impressive on a first try.
The next day, I returned and found students diligently digging in various spots around the property. Mercifully, they did not find anything where the new septic system was planned. But the area north of the house, was a jackpot. It was here, that intentions in the ground indicated previous buildings.
They will continue to look for the privy locations, the maple syrup boiling pit and the well. If you are interested in visiting, visitation day for the public is this Friday the 27th.