Dig Day #2: Excavations are Under Way

Zack Diedrich

Hello! My name is Zack and I am going to tell you a little bit about what happened at Roosevelt Park this past week during our excavations on September 26th. In the central area of the park, away from most of us, we had a team digging shovel test pits (STPs) to gain a better picture of the park’s overall archaeological landscape. Members of the STP team also gathered GPS coordinates for all of the units we’ve been digging.

Most of us are working along the eastern edge of the park. In the area closest to the Michigan Central Station, in Lot 14, Team Bones opened up a 1×1 meter unit and made it to the second layer of dirt underneath the grassy layer. In the northernmost unit, Lot 13, Team Trowel reached a second layer of soil in their 1×1 meter unit.

 My team in Lot 7 opened and closed our first shovel test pit this week. Last week we spent a lot of time deliberating where we wanted to put it and figuring out where the boundaries of the area’s former house lot. Our shovel test pit had some problems with it, mainly that we ran into an old sprinkler and a lot of roots from a nearby tree! (Figure 1).


 Figure 1. Here’s why our excavations in Lot 7 were slowed down a bit – a sprinkler from the 1920s! 

Nevertheless, we found a fair bit of artifacts in the excavations. Many of the artifacts seemed like they were once associated with a furnace or an oven; brick, charcoal, coal — we are definitely near a trash pit! Hopefully we can hone in on it next week!


Dig Day #1: The 2016 Field Season Begins!

Ashlee Jed

Hello, and welcome back to Roosevelt Park’s  Fall 2016 excavations! Wayne State University students found some neat things last time we excavated at Roosevelt Park in 2014 and we’re hoping to continue the productive research this fall! Our first full day of excavation was on September 19th.

We spent the first part of class learning about the past locations of various homes and buildings from the late 1800s through the early 1900s before they were all knocked down to make way for Roosevelt Park and Michigan Central Train Station. Dr. Ryzewski coached students on how to compare the present day park to historical maps of where the buildings, lots, and other structures stood (Figure 1).

After a tour of the park, students were divided into Teams and were assigned  property lots to excavate and study: Team Trowel in Area 1- Lot 13, Team Stratigraphy in Area 1- Lot 7, Team Backfill in Area 1-Lot 14, and Team Plumbob in Area 3-property lots 327 15th Street and 331 15th Street. Team Trowel, Backfill and Stratigraphy focused on finding an area within their lot to excavate or test while Team Plumbob conducted shovel tests in their property lot. With the help of historical maps, all teams located and recreated the parameters of their lots or property lots.


Figure 1. Dr. Ryzewski explains the historical maps of Roosevelt Park’s past buildings and structures and how the maps will be applied to our field season.

Team Trowel decided to excavate a 1×1 meter area in Lot 13 that used to have a two-story outbuilding. This outbuilding area has a chance of yielding more artifacts than the surrounding because outbuildings were areas for storage or privies. Team Trowel finished measuring and documenting their excavation unit early, so they were able to remove the sod layer from the top of their unit. How exciting!

Team Stratigraphy attempted to find the privy in Lot 7. In 2012, a group of students dug two excavation units attempting to find the privies in Lot 7 and 8, but they ended up locating the alleyway behind Lot 7 and 8. Next week Team Stratigraphy will either dig shovel test pits in the area where they think the privy is, or they will dig a 1×1 meter excavation unit where they think the privy might be. Lot 14 had two dwellings that faced Dalzelle Street.

Team Backfill decided to excavate a 1×1 meter area in Lot 14 that was the most likely spot for the main part of an outbuilding on the lot. Based on previously found artifacts in the surrounding area, this team anticipates finding ceramics and bottles. Last but not least,

Team Plumbob successfully started two shovel tests that have already produced some exciting finds! Since property lots 327 15th Street and 331 15th Street have never been explored by archaeologists, Team Plumbob started digging quick shovel test pits to narrow down an area surrounding the location of outbuildings that has a good amount of artifacts (Figure 2). So far, each test pit has been dug about 30 centimeters deep and the pits have produced broken glass and rusty nails. When they locate the artifact rich area surrounding the alley’s former outbuildings, they will start excavating a 1×1 meter unit. blog1_arch3

Figure 2. Shovel test pit 2 in all its glory. Way to go, Team Plumbob!

Will Team Stratigraphy dig shovel test pits or a 1×1 meter excavation unit to locate their privy? What will Team Trowel unearth? Will Team Plumbob’s shovel test pits reveal an artifact rich area near the outbuildings by next week? Are ceramic or bottle related artifacts in Team Backfill’s near future? Stay tuned to find out!