Over the course of my research for these blog posts, one of the most interesting correlations I noticed was between trauma and incarceration. When I began this project, one issue I had to reconcile with myself was the problematic nature of the comparison I was making between native women and 19th century female prisoners. By comparing these experiences, was I saying that I think native women are in some way responsible for their captivity? Was I downplaying the severity of women’s crimes or accidentally discrediting their agency?

Now that I am deeper into this research, I have found that what ties these women together is not the experience, but the trauma. In both prisons and missions, women traumatised, both physically and mentally. Their captors/oppressors used the same tactics such and rape and forced isolation to control and dominate these women. However, the most important thing I learned through my readings and research and general contemplation was that the women I looked at were all active parts of their survival. They developed coping mechanisms and social strategies to form communities within their traumatic landscapes that helped them make the most of their situations.

If anything, working on this blog has really inspired me to keep doing this research. The hardest aspect of finishing the project for me was that I kept getting overwhelmed by the amount of work I wanted to do. There are so many interesting stories to tell, so much information to uncover, the sheer magnitude of these issues is astounding, and I want to keep doing it. It’s also so pertinent to issues and discussions going on today. Over the last couple weeks, so many times I have read articles in the current media that I wanted to cover on this blog. I do not consider my blog done. The amount of resources that I ran out of time to include, I will include in the future. I’m super pumped on this right now, and I encourage you guys to check out what I’ve written (if you want).

 

CRM in SFBay

Although the majority of archaeology conducted in the States is Cultural Resource Management, it’s not the largest topic within the academic sector. As such, I was interested by the “Archaeology of a San Francisco Neighborhood” website, run by Sonoma State University. The site describes the methods and results of CRM work done in the Bay Area during construction and remodel of the SF-80 highway and the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge. Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation, funded the development of the website to share information about and results of the excavations.

Although at first glance the website seems a bit underwhelming and slightly outdated (the use of comic sans as the heading font does not help), I found it overall to be very informative and easy to navigate. Whether you’re interested in artefacts, the site map, or methods of excavation, the site is well laid out to help you figure it out. They have a cute page about artifacts with pictures of different objects found in historic archaeological sites with hyperlinks to more information. Although I was expecting to see examples of artefacts found in the SF-80 or Bay Bridge sites, the general info of “these are the lighting fixtures we often find!” was still educational.

Overall, the focus of the website seems less on the specific excavations and more on methods and general information about archaeology. Even so, I’m not sure if I think that’s a large detracting feature of the website. The positionality of Caltrans is not to get people siked on the people of the past, it’s to educate the public about how aware they are of potential history destruction and give them the resources they need to understand the mechanics of how archaeology is applied to these large projects.

It May Not Be Diagnostic But It’s a Rad Design: The Crescent Moon Owl Bottle Story

I have never spent as long thinking about a single glass bottle as I did while attempting to pry any ounce of information out of the internet about this guy. Now, to be fair, I can’t say I normally spend that much time thinking about single glass bottles, but even if I was a renowned glass bottologist, I’m sure this one would still take the cake.

Here are the facts:

This bottle is handmade, cylindrical, and has a patent finish. Basic, visual comparison with the SHA catalogue suggests it is some sort of medicinal, druggists bottle. The base is a molded 2-piece cup bottom, with two seams that extend up the sides of the body to a bit into the finish. The only decoration is an embossed makers mark on the base of an owl sitting on a crescent moon.

That’s it.

What really gets my goat about this bottle is not the fact that I was unable to find any solid information on it, but more that its makers mark is so unique, and I was STILL unable to identify this particular vessel. What I was able to identify, however, was the mark.

The guilty party

The embossed owl perched upon a crescent moon that reads “TRADEMARK.” Now that’s a way to let people know that a logo is restricted. The mark is one that decorates the body of Gillett’s HIGH GRADE Extract bottles, manufactured in the mid-1800’s by the Gillett-Sherer company in Chicago. However, the bottle in question is undoubtedly not high-grade extract, or the same as any of the Gillett bottles I was able to find. Not only is its shape not one used for any Gillett (or Sherer) products the internet has to offer, but it’s basal makers mark is also anomalous!

Each moon here reads "TRADEMARK"

Each moon here reads “TRADEMARK.” I think.

 

This is clearly the same mark as on the base of the mystery bottle

This is clearly the same mark as on the base of the mystery bottle

There's a lot of information about the Owl Drug Company, whose logo is disturbingly similar... and yet..... unhelpful

There’s a lot of information about the Owl Drug Company, whose logo is disturbingly similar… and yet….. unhelpful

 

After circling around these same photos (and pinterest posts and ebay listings and the seventh circle of antique hell), I turned to the manufacturer for guidance. Which was not given. While I was able to find the street address of the men who started the company, this function of this bottle evaded me. Eventually, I had to give up.

My only explanation for this bottle is that it was some sort of test run, proof, or spoof of a Gillett bottle. I can think of no other way for this vessel to be so historically invisible– as a product of the digital age, where all information is available to me at the click of a button, this was particularly frustrating. Still, in some ways I appreciate this mystery. If anything, it is a great example of how, in archaeology, so much time and energy can be poured into artefacts that never give away their secrets. In some ways it is also an exercise in reading between the lines of history: there is a reason we are unable to place this bottle. While this reason may be nothing more than circumstantial, I feel it is still meaningful– which is, to me, the essence of understanding archaeological interpretation.

 

Death Through the Ages: Yep, it’s always been a thing

The only time I feel comfortable in large groups of people is when most of them are dead. A couple weeks ago, as I milled through Calvary Cemetery, noting births and deaths, epitaphs and adornments, I reflected on how lucky I was to be doing my favorite kind of activity in my favorite kind of place, and to be getting academic credit for it. Reading the various grave-markers, I made up stories about the lives of all the people interred beneath me; their relationships to one another, how far away their place of birth was from their place of death, and particularly, how did they die? I don’t think anyone can stroll between hundreds of gravestones without wondering how their owners died. For this reason, I focused on death frequencies as I analysed the data collected by myself and my peers at Calvary.

Death Frequency by Period- Collated Group Data

Death Frequency by Period- Collated Group Data

The first thing I looked at was the general death frequencies by year. There are two distinct peaks: one around 1940, and the other within the last five years. Now, I am a bit skeptical as to how meaningful any of the data examined and presented here is meaningful, due to the extremely small sample size. However, another reason I chose to focus on death frequency, was that, although there may have been a selection bias that effected which stones were recorded, the actual dates themselves are reasonably objective. By this I mean that the criteria for what is recorded as “1945” by me is the same criteria that made a colleague record “1945”: the gravestone says the individual whose death it marks died in 1945. Because of this, I feel comfortable making a prediction about the cause of these two spikes in the data, and this prediction is (you guessed it) war.

1940, as we all know, is the beginning of US involvement in World War II. Thousands of soldiers were shipped off, and thousands of soldiers died. I would not be remotely surprised if the cause of the Calvary spike around this period is somehow related to this war.

Now my suggestion for the most recent spike is also related to the war, though perhaps a little further removed: the Baby Boomers are dying. The average lifespan of an adult male is somewhere around 70 years old. After the war, when all those spry sweethearts hopped into the post-war bed they popped out a bunch of babes. Well, these babes are now reaching their seventies, and, statistically, it’s about their time to pop back off.

As I’ve mentioned before, this study came packed with bias and oozing inadequate sample size. I am very curious to see if, upon more detailed and further analysis, these same frequencies would hold true. If they don’t then perhaps they reflect that the areas of the cemetery that we examined were simply utilized the most during the peak time periods because of spatial or organizational issues.

The irony is strong in this one

The irony is strong in this one

Just for fun, I also looked at the months in which people in the cemetery died and, surprisingly, found that most deaths in our data of both men and women occurred between July-August. My only hypothesis for this is extremely unscientific: perhaps, after the cold Seattle winter, perhaps they just couldn’t take the heat.

Death Frequency by Month

Death Frequency by Month

The Good Shepherd Center: Homey, Haunted, Historic

I think I lived next to the Good Shepherd Center for a good six months before I realized it was not, in fact, a church. As I attempted to direct my grandfather, Bob, to my house, we got in an argument about the purpose of the building when I told him to “park next to the big church on Sunnyside and 50th.” Dedicated to prove Bob wrong, I asked a close friend (Google) to back me up. Google was not on my side, and I ceded the discussion. For this reason, I was determined to learn as much as I could about thee history of the Center when the opportunity arose this quarter, so as to regain my shattered pride.

House_of_the_Good_Shepherd_Sunnyside_Ave_N_at_N_50th_St_Seattle_April_17_1922

Home of the Good Shepherd, Seattle, April 17th, 1922 Photo by A. Curtis, UW Special Collections (Neg #42734)

 

Home of the Good Shepherd (Alfred C. Breitung, 1907), 1908 Postcard Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province

Home of the Good Shepherd (Alfred C. Breitung, 1907), 1908
Postcard Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province

As it turns out, the Good Shepherd Center has a pretty rad story. The building was initially constructed by the Breitung and Buchinger architectural firm and was completed on July 29th 1907 for the Roman Catholic Sisters of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, an order dedicated to providing refuge to “wayward girls and children.” The congregation moved from their previous location on First Hill, which was established 1890, so they could have a larger space. It remained a home for troubled girls and young women until 1973, when the building was closed to make room for an 11 story shopping center. Thankfully, the neighborhood rejected that idea and in 1975 was purchased, using residual Forward Thrust and Federal funding, by the City of Seattle, who gave the building to the historic preservation agency Historic Seattle. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in May 1978.

Papers upon the addition of the Home of the Good Shepherd to the National Registry of Historic Places

Papers upon the addition of the Home of the Good Shepherd to the National Registry of Historic Places

Screenshot 2015-05-01 18.30.43

Nowadays, the building functions as a community center that houses over 30 non profit organizations and individuals, including the Meridian School, Seattle Tilth, Alliance Française and the Wallingford Senior center. In 2002, low-cost residential artists lofts were added on the buildings top floor. The chapel was also renovated to a performance space. Additionally, it’s hella haunted.

Although hundreds of troubled girls have roamed it’s halls, the architecture of the Good Shepherd Center remains virtually unchanged. The largest structural change to the building was probably the repairs to the damages caused by a fire in 1967. The records concerning this fire were particularly entertaining, due to the discrepancy between the media report and the memory of one of the nuns who was in the building as it burned. According to the Seattle Times on Aug. 8th, 1967, firemen had responded to a fire on the 7th at the Home of the Good Shepherd, safely evacuating the 85 girls and 16 nuns living there at the time. Although the building sustained $30,000 worth of damage (almost $220,000 today), the only significant injury was a paper cut on one of the firemen. The news reports the cause of the fire to be “undetermined.” However, an oral history conducted by Toby Harris provides an alternate story. Sister Valerie Brannon, a nun interviewed by Harris for this history, confesses to know exactly how the fire started. Apparently, a girl got ahold of the attic keys the day before the fire, and then snuck away to light a rack of costumes aflame. According to Sister Brannon, even the firemen knew that this was the cause of the fire, and the guilty party was evicted from the home in less than two days. This is just another glimpse into the complex nature of history and the intricacies of the material record.

Home of the Good Shepherd, typing class, 1957 Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province

Home of the Good Shepherd, typing class, 1957
Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province

Home of the Good Shepherd, ice cream in summerhouse, 1957 Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province

Home of the Good Shepherd, ice cream in summerhouse, 1957
Courtesy Archives Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Mid-Atlantic Province

Girls after my own heart.

Oscar the Grouch and Me

I’ve always felt a special connection to Oscar the Grouch– and not just for his misanthropic nature and hoarding of seemingly useless items (although certainly that is part of it). Primarily, my love stemmed from our mutual interest in trash. Growing up, the cemetery behind my house had a big, beautiful pile of junk hunkered down in a far corner where my brother and I would spend our days exploring for snakes and lizards, which we would try to catch with our bare hands. While in retrospect it’s incredible that neither of us ever fell on a hypodermic needle, I enjoyed every minute I spent in that trash pile; because, even if the snakes were all hiding, I could always find some cool, gross thing tucked among the grass and woodscraps. Although (at my dad’s reasonable request) I never really rummaged through the different piles, I loved to just examine them and make up stories about where they came from, who deposited them, and why.

Learning about garbology allowed me to take my childhood past time to the next level. Working on the lab this last week, I was transported back to that cemetery garbage pile, where once again I was crouched next to a mound of junk, working to figure out what it meant.

Garbage piles are funny in that they don’t give any context to the deposition. Who was dumping this? Where did it come from? What made a person (or group of people) think, “Ah yes, this open corner of a cemetery is the best place for me to leave my old couch!?” Context has to be inferred from the material itself– and that’s archaeology. Thinking about archaeology as basically your neighbor’s garbage is a useful way to conceptualize the process and understand the biases and processes that work into the archaeological record.

The garbage I examined really made me think about this. One of the hardest aspects of analysing the “assemblage,” if you will, was thinking about how many people contributed to the deposit and deciding the purpose of the deposit (besides the obvious ” to get rid of trash” purpose). These factors would greatly influence the narrative I created. If it was kitchen trash versus personal trash, if it was one persons’ refuse or two– the garbage itself didn’t come with an instruction book. However, I soon realized that I was thinking too much about the garbage as a whole, and not listening to what the pieces of paper and apple cores were really trying to tell me. Once I changed the way I conceptualized the trash, it all began to fit together.

In all, I believe that garbology is a great way to practice archaeological techniques in a modern setting that helps you contextualize and conceptualize processes and human behavior behind disposal. I fully encourage everyone to take a little time out of their day to peer into someone else’s trash. There is no limit to what you can learn about your friends, enemies, neighbors and ancestors by spending a little time with your inner Oscar.

Blog Review: Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives

Ancient Bodies” is basically everything I’ve ever wanted in an archaeology blog. Their articles are intelligent, well researched and thought provoking, as well as important for the general understanding of sex and gender in past societies. The author, a professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, is appropriately colloquial in her writing while maintaining an academic dialogue- a combination that makes for an easy to read and highly informative, professional blog. I love that the concepts breached in this work are conveyed in such a way that they remain accessible to the “general public” without seeming “dumbed down.” I also appreciate the regional scope of the blog- often blogs that center of issues of sex and gender (that I have found, at least), seem to have a specialized area that they cover ( i.e. archaeological sex and gender in ancient Greece and Rome, etc). Additionally, the format of the blog makes it very readable and easy to navigate- this, I feel, is one of the most important parts of any blog, and one that is often undervalued. I really like that, scrolling down the page, I get to see the title and beginning of each post, instead of just titles, or full entries. In all, I highly recommend this blog to every one, as it is a great source of information on the intricacies of sex and gender and this history through the archaeological record.
Favorite Quote: “How long does it take for us to not be surprised that powerful women exist?”

Blog Review: Bad Archaeology

The internet is a wild place. I am constantly amazed at how accessible so much knowledge is with the right key words and a click of a button. My personal wanderings through the vast catacombs of the world wide web have taught me, inspired me, and appalled me, often all at the same time. However, no matter how many cool facts and important ideas are disseminated online, it seems that what the internet loves most is spreading rumours, hoaxes, and lies. It’s just so easy! As such, I was very excited when I found the wordpress blog “Bad Archaeology.” In a discipline where hoaxes and shoddy pseudo-science plague the popular media representation, “Bad Archaeology” provides a healthy serving of hard facts and criticism of some of the more ridiculous archaeological fables. Although I love “evidence” of aliens and swamp monsters as much as, or perhaps more than, the next guy, it’s really great to find an archaeology blog that tackles these subjects and, in sourced detail, rips into them. In particular, I appreciate the authors’ focus not only on the most popular topics (Mayan prophecy!! Aliens built the pyramids!! Jesus was a lizard!!), but also on lesser known, but equally ridiculous artefacts and stories. Additionally, I appreciate the authors attention to detail and dedication to providing comprehensive background on the growth of controversy over all the archaeological sites/etc that are discussed. Overall, this blog provides and entertaining and informative glimpse of how the media and pop culture influence the image of archaeology in the modern world.

It Me: Ema Grey Bushnell

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Hailing from a cozy corner of the central Californian coast, Ema moved to Seattle in August 2012 to pursue a bachelors degree in Archaeological Sciences at the University of Washington. Her research interests revolve the intersections of queer and feminist theories with archaeology and deconstructing colonialist and oppressive narratives within the academy. Regionally, Ema enjoys studying the maritime Pacific and Atlantic sub-arctic and is currently working on a research project focusing on the effects of geographic insularity on the formal stone tools of mid- Holocene hunter-gatherers in Russia’s Kuril Islands. In 2013, Ema attended a field school in Vatnsfjö∂ur, Iceland where she worked on excavating a medieval farm mound.

While not actively pursuing her academic interests, Ema can be found scoopin’ up ice cream, crafting/watching tv with her cats, getting emotional about plants or listening to podcasts about ghosts, true crime and science.