Jürgen Olofsson the Finn and the Log Cabin

For our final project for Historical Archaeology, I decided to go with a fictional account to help illustrate the historical and archaeological evidence for a group of people not know to much of the world: The Forest Finns. These people were a culturally unique group of people from Central Finland in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, who were famous for their lifestyle in and around dense forests. My fictional account follows the story of Jürgen Olofsson the Finn, who travels from his homeland to central Sweden, and ultimately to the new colony of New Sweden. There he partakes in building one of the most iconic symbols of settler America: the log cabin.

Forest Finns, painted by Eero Järnefelt,1893

The Forest Finns in colonial America in the 17th century were the first builders of what we know today as the modern log cabin. During my research to create my character and to better understand the history of these Finns, I soon learned that, when they were living in New Sweden, they would build the first log cabins, and would help spread the use of it to all of colonial America for generations to come. It is because of them that Abraham Lincoln would grow up in a log cabin, and why the log cabin is one of America’s icons.

17th century log cabin from New Sweden. provided by file:///G:/Historical%20archy%20proj/log%20houses.pdf

Doing this research has allowed me another view into the history of Scandinavian immigration and the lasting impacts of it today. The tiny cultural group that is the Forest Finns, has given me a new sense of knowledge and pride in that they have taught me the ways in which immigrants have lasting impacts upon places simply by living the daily lives that they have brought with them.

Glass Capitalism

Looking at broken, antique glass bottles a lot can be learned by flipping them upside down and peering into the details of the bottom. In the case of a historic bottle I analyzed for class, a company, but not just any company, a company intent on merging other companies into their own.

This aqua coloured, 16cm tall broken at the neck beer bottle had and AB logo on it with the inscription: Y12. When I first looked upon this bottle I assumed it was made in 1912 due to the number but also that, once I had researched was made by the company:The Adolphus Busch Glass Mfg. Co. But when further researching this company I found that it had been picked up by The American Bottle Company in 1905. Located in Newark, Ohio, this company had a tendency to take over other glass companies including the Adolphus Busch but also companies like The Massillon Bottle and Glass Company. Bellow is a photo of men that would have been apart of the larger American Bottle Company from one of the smaller companies.

American Bottle Co. yardmen. Provided by the Massillon Museum

The bottle itself would have been made either in Ohio or at the original site of the Adolphus Busch company in Missouri. It would have contained some type of beer and was most likely consumed within a home or at the bar in a local pub in Seattle (where it was found). Beyond the basics of what the bottle contained and where it was from, a lot can be learned about the history of its creation by looking deeper into the glass itself to uncover the company that created it. In this case the American Bottle Company.

History Through Cemeteries

When walking through the tranquil, almost silent cemetery sitting just above U Village one gets a micro glimpse into the history of this part of Seattle. You get to see the names, the births, and the deaths of so many people over the many decades who are now interred  at Calvary Cemetery. As a class, we took note on many of grave stones that can be found here and each of us analyzed the data to see what could be learned from these aging marble markers. I decided to look at the frequency of deaths when compared to years. The results are as follows:

When looking through the data, the two 5 year increments that contained the highest number of deaths were the years 1930 and 1945 with the years leading up to 1930 increasing and the years following 1945 decreasing.

So what can be gained from this? Well, we can clearly see two major events going on. The impact of the first World War with the coming impact of the Spanish Flu, and the onset and impact of the second World War. As soldiers came back home from all over the world, the flu took its impact on many of the populations whose countries were involved in the war. Then with the end of World War II we get the steady decrease of deaths due to the end of the major impacts of the two wars. As well as the impact of these two wars, we also see the surrounding impact of the Vietnam War and other events of the time as well as the ending of a generation with deaths increasing as we leave the 20th century and the war generation.

Though cemeteries are usually a place of quite reflection and respect, much can be learned by simply walking up to and seeing who the marker represents and from what time they came from.

Walruses Downtown

Much of the history of modern Seattle can be traced back to the expansion of the town through the Klondike Gold Rush. Years later many veterans of this gold rush would return to Seattle with a golden twinkle in their eye and walruses in their memories. Then in 1908 the wealthy gold diggers would form the first Arctic Club on 3rd Avenue and Jefferson Street. After a short few years they would come to commission their own building a few blocks down on the corner of Cherry and 3rd Ave. The building would be designed by A. Warren Gould in 1916. Here they would put walruses right on the facade!

c.a. 1917 photo of the Arctic Building on 3rd ave and Cherry st.

The building would remain a center for the club until the late 1970s where it would soon become a historic building of Seattle and be registered for the National Register of Historic Places. As of now it stands as an interesting trademark of the “golden” past of Seattle as well as a fancy hotel with cool bar. The building itself has had its own interesting past as a center for the Arctic Club as well as others, but also was the site of the suicide of U.S. Congressman Marion Zioncheck in 1936. The building is also said to be one of the go to haunted locations in Seattle.

The building has nine floors with a beautiful dome room in the back corner, which is commonly used for weddings. The elegance and posh intend for this building continue today while the walruses continue to watch Seattle around it.

The walrus

How to tell if someone is a snowbird from their garbage…

In a recent garbology project I participated in, each member was given a set of data from one another that listed their garbage from the past week or so. In the sample I received there was food, packaging, cat food cans, and a curious piece of paper that was a boarding pass…to LAS VEGAS! The date for said boarding pass was the 17th of December. So what does this mean? Someone went to Las Vegas for a little winter fun, or maybe to visit family around the holidays? Regardless of what happened I feel that a lot can be learned from this piece of paper in regards to the person/people who threw it away. The conclusion I came to was that they are either from/ are connected to this desert oasis, or flock there every winter to get away from the bitter, harsh, slushy, winter we have here in Seattle. Though my conclusion might be far from the truth, it shows the power in trash. From a single item in the trash, we can learn quite a lot about a person or group of people. As the field of garbology has risen over the past years, we are beginning to better understand our current and not so distant selves in terms of what we do and what we throw away. So whether or not these people are snowbirds based upon their boarding pass, I still know they had some fun in the sun during the holiday season.

A word on Preserving the Past Together Seminar

On a cold but sunny Thursday afternoon, I sat upon a wood bench within a beautiful wooden conference space at the Intellectual House on the campus of UW. That afternoon there was the Preserving the Past Together seminar. This work shop focused on the collaboration of heritage in the Salish Sea. As the panelists discussed various topics of collaboration, my thoughts and notes centered on two ideas that came up. One was the hesitance felt by many native communities and elders in sharing key knowledge about certain sites. The second involved the simple yet largely overlooked idea of coming to the archives, the teachers, and the elders of native communities when looking for information. These two topics can come at odds when researchers, developers, and politicians finally come looking for information but are stopped by communities that do not wish to share their knowledge. As said by a member of the panel, “how do you protect something you can’t talk about?” These ideas stuck in my mind as I contemplated the two sides to the topic. But as the panelists continued it became clear that no matter what work that goes on between the tribes and the State, etc. there needs to be mutual understanding and respect for one another if cooperation and collaboration are to happen. In an expanding world, certain knowledge needs to be shared in order to keep avoidable destruction from happening, but we must also stop assuming what we know and spend time and share knowledge with the tribes themselves.

The seminar will continue with three more workshops targeted at working together to keep the past. The next one will be held, February 16, 2017   12:30-2:30pm I look forward to what comes from this as well as the rest of the workshops.

Hej from Karl

Hello, my name is Karl. I am a senior at UW studying archaeology and Scandinavian studies.My hobbies include photography and art, music (shredding the bass!), and exploring.  As of now, much of my focus is upon my own research for the honors programme within the anthropology department. My research looks at the ways in which Scandinavian immigrants and their families use decorative objects as identity markers within the greater Seattle area. I hope to further pursue the field of archaeology by attending grad school in Sweden.

Rocking the FMIA

Rocking the FMIA

An End and a New Beginning

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Small tables, clean trays. A view of the dorm next door. This is the new field in which I continue my archaeology training. The lab. Ever since pulling the first artifact out of my unit, I have looked forward to taking a much closer, and more connected look at the objects themselves.

The physical act of excavation is exhilarating, intense, and powerful, but I have looked forward most to the analysis and early stages of reconstructing the function, date, origin, and possible meaning(s) or each artifact. First step: washing. Removing just a few years’ worth of soil, or many decades of it, it reveals the beauty that time has hidden away. Then comes the fun part: cataloging. These are the first stages that we take in order to preserve and organize the data we have collected. For many this process is something that many do not look forward to, but for me, it is something that I do in small ways constantly within my daily life, such as my organization of my art, notes, and various other things.  The sorting by type, identifying the many types, counting and weighing, and bagging; what a joy. Though not always as straightforward, the challenges make you stop and think of what you are trying to do with such a collection. All of this organization gave me a much better view of what we found at the site, since each individual does not get the joy to see every artifact whilst in the field.

During the course of the field school each student assumed a leadership role.. A role in which we are able to showcase our talents and interests in an archaeological setting by drawing upon our established skills, or building new ones by exploring and contributing to something new. Mine became artifact illustration. This role has quickly become a dream of mine for a possible career choice in the future. Being able to engage with artifacts on a much closer basis, and by extension their users and makers for me is the closest and most powerful way to go about archaeology. And so I began the illustration of a few of the most interesting artifacts that we came across. A couple of glass vessel fragments, a fragment of a bracelet, and a sardine can key (which was an easy choice, since sardines are among my favorite treats). The process of looking at the materials being used, the amount of decay, and even the colour, and then using my skill to render them upon blank paper brought me even closer to the artifacts and the stories that they tell. It was an experience unlike any other. I enjoy the precision needed to represent fully the details of the object as well as the time it took to capture the simple beauty. Along with this joy came a certain level of difficulty. Every little detail from the slight cracks and breaks to even the level and style of shading had to be perfect.

But any challenge presents growth and the new possibility to grow. Especially one that could lead to something that one day might define me. Now having finished the illustrations, I can sit back and enjoy the outcome as well as the feeling of creating the image while still waiting for the next opportunity to give new life to objects using the power of art.

Just Scratching the Surface

When one imagines archaeology, many people think of deep pits filled with all kinds of whole or partially whole artifacts. I must admit that before this field school I had similar ideas about excavation, but after spending weeks in the field my view has changed for the better. Much of the work we have done involves what is called surface collection. This method of archaeology is known as a low impact form. This method of excavation has been of much greater importance as more researchers and communities focus on the preservation of sites not only through the artifacts, but also the land itself. This method involves the usual 1-meter by 1-meter units but with a slight twist. Due to dense ground cover at the schoolhouse site, it was not possible to identify artifacts at the surface. So this is where surface collection came into play. We do this by lifting the sod cover to the roots using shovels. When explaining this process to my friends, they questioned whether any artifacts would be there and if they would even be of much use if they were there. But in fact we have been finding much in the way of interesting artifacts. Due to natural forces of the shifting soils, there tends to be a fair amount of artifacts just on the surface, but not all artifacts are which is due to various factors such as deposition, human activity, etc. Through this method, we recovered materials from the recent building demolition such as fragments of wood, cement, and glass, as well as older objects, including bits of chalk, porcelain from a saucer, and even a small button. These artifacts could range in age from very young to possibly a century. All of this knowledge through material remains was collected by simply peeling back the grass. The other aspect of surface collection that I really enjoy is that it is a low impact method of excavation. Each surface collection unit requires removing only a few centimeters of sod, and when finished is backfilled to make sure that the impact upon the land is as minimal as we can make it. After using this method I have acquired a better understanding of ways in which researchers practice archaeology without large impact as well as the wealth of information that the surface can provide.