About Kirk

Kerstin Snodgrass is a 22 year old Archaeological Science student currently in her final year at the UW. Interested in a young age about arcaheology she has strived to continue her studies and eventually start working in the field within the coming year. Although not specialized at the moment her interests mostly include any work with textiles, sewing and knitting with other interests scattered throughout. At the moment she is studying Historical Archaeology, Ethnographic archaeology and archaeology in the public sector. On the sidelines she enjoys arts and crafts and learning French and looks forward to what her future brings. Born in Flordia, she was raised actually in the Northwest from a young age. From youth she gained interest in archaeology first learning about it from her mother's Tutankhamun books and decided to pursue that interest instead of becoming an ice cream truk driver at the age of 8. Her current goals are to graduate with her baceholors and to gain a job in the field hopefully starting with a job in the CRM or be put onto some field schools.

The Story of Sarah Smith and the Historical Narrative of Virginia City



As stated in my presentation before, creating a historical narrative is very difficult. Not only is there a needed understanding of the local history of the chosen area (in this case Virginia City in the 1800’s) but also needed is a vast understanding of the social dynamics and various roles a person could find themselves in during their lives. Thus creating a believable character that can respond and understand these dynamic is the hardest part and as Jacob pointed out, my character in the drafts is very snarky. What would she think of children? Of Marriage? Of other races besides her own? These are questions I sought to answer.

Sarah Smith is a plain name for what I hope is a very complicated woman. I tried my hands at writing mini-letter entries that I wanted to provide a voice for Sarah, and indeed as people have noted, she is snarky about her position in life. As these letter snippets are fictional it also brings to light the parallel that the letters that actually exist in the historical narrative can somewhat “fictional” as well, enticing others to join and to leave out unsavory parts of their lives.

What I’ve discovered over the course of the research is just how complex these characters could become over their journey through the West. My only regret is that I wish I had delved deeper into the connections between gender and ethnicity as my Character is Caucasian in origin hailing from East side of the U.S. where there were stronger European centric ties. Although there are plenty of notable examples of ethnicity that was to be found in Virginia City as said before it is difficult to provide a detailed narrative that develops fully every single of the numerous identities that would have been found in the area.

Also found in this research is the identity that women had in this area which was the main focus of my paper. For example many women dispelled the notion that moving to the West was to “cultivate” for the greater good. My character for example simply moved about looking for better ways to survive. It seems that the material culture reflects the notion that it wasn’t just a bombardment of European styles (although they certainly are there) but also a wide range of products relating to other ethnicities such as African American and Chinese who made up a sizable proportion of the population. Some of the research had to be attributed to other similar settlements due to their differing populations of assemblages that contained households rather than saloons.

As for today it seems that it is a bit disappointing that the current Virginia City seems to only focus on the more exciting aspects of its past and not the hardships that mining caused to both the men and women. Little mention is there outside of saloons and brothels and the people who lived within. Sarah herself would have easily ghosted by as another face in the crowd leaving only a minimal trace on the archaeological record. That is why this kind of research is important for the area, ignoring the population who may have not made a huge mark on the local history and yet remains in the physical is an aspect that should not be ignored. In the end I hope my paper illuminates the mindset that these women would have had in order to make the decisions that she did and the reasons why she had been enticed to travel to Virginia City.

A Brief Post on Paris History and Archaeology

As many in the class are fairly aware of by now, I happen to be quite fond of anything having to do with French culture or history. However I do notice a high emphasis is placed on history that pertains to the more contemporary eras of France, namely the reign of Louis XIV and the revolution that was inspired after our own. Though both these periods are  important to how France was shaped today, I wanted to talk about much earlier French history, namely in the center of Paris where the city was originally founded. The history here is ancient and doesn’t always pertain to the highly Catholic country or the lavish rulers that lived in the chateaux.  For the sake of convenience I’ll be using calendar dates to describe the sites.

I  just wanted to start by saying that Paris itself is a pre-historic city that has its start at about 250 BC (though there is evidence for even earlier occupation by hunting and gatherer groups) founded by a tribe called the Parisii where the city gets its name.



The map here shows the center island of the city called the Île de la Cité (literally translated to “Island of the City”) and was home to the earliest occupation of a walled fort to keep out invaders. Afterwards after the city was united under the rule of Clovis and quickly expanded outwards from the island.

Skipping forward, the famous church that now is the main attraction  with its finish at around 1345 AD with nearly a 150+ years in which there was periodic construction and additions added over time. However what is usually not told in the history of the building is the vast destruction of lower class housing including a large Jewish sector that was relocated to a different section of Paris. This is was a turning point and in later times the cathedral was seen as a symbol of the Church’s power and something that was the center of debates between non-Catholic religions in France.

So what about the archaeology that could help shed light on early Paris history?

I was lucky enough to get to visit the “La crypte archéologique” during my trip to Paris in 2012. Whereas the church of Notre Dame is flooded with tourists all times of the days it is open, the crypt itself was fairly bare despite being only steps away from the church itself. Despite the destruction the church had on the area, it ended up preserving a large amount of foundations and stone work underneath the church itself. Inside there is a gorgeous example of early Parisian buildings and history dating back over 2000 years.



(I should note that a lot of the photos you will find online make the place seem bigger than it really is, the wonders of photography.)

Here we have an example to how the early city functioned and what kind of activities may have gone on. We can see examples of trash pits, wells, early architecture influenced by roman arches and work and living spaces. The site itself is also layered upon each other presenting different styles of stone work as it built over each other. Here we see a stark contrast to how Paris would like to present itself as a rich, sophisticated city where the common folk is not mentioned (probably one of the reasons they had so many revolutions…) and here we can see how chaotic and busy the city actually was with its people. This is one of the main reasons I love the city so much, there is always something hiding behind its walls ready to tell its story.

On a last note, one of the best ways to tell how the city has expanded over the times lies in a surprising factor, the graveyards. In the past it was generally frowned upon to have bodies in the city limits and thus a lot of the burials took place right outside city walls. As the city expanded it absorbed these cemeteries into the city walls.



Here is a picture of Paris with the graveyards marker in green. The center of Paris is marked with a red circle. As you can see there seems to be a ring around the island which is a sign that these are where ancient city limits are. Eventually this caused problems as the graveyards started to overflow (due to a shift of wanting to be buried in the city) and Catholic graveyards were at their limits. It was Napoleon who enacted a program that created the catacombs of Paris which is now home to over 6 million bodies, most of them nameless lower class people who were unlucky enough to be unburied and tossed aside for the newer generation.

It is impossible to accurately describe the history of the largest city in France but I hope this post was a good tidbit of interesting points and using maps and archaeology to tell a narrative that isn’t based on 18th century nobility.

The Cowichan Style

If you’ve paying attention to me the past few weeks you’ve noticed I’ve been clicking away at my needles at some sort of project. Today I’m going to discuss my final project for my Ethnoarchaeology class which is to knit some baby booties in the Cowichan style. This archaeology discipline places an emphasis similar to Historical Archaeology that text-based accounts should go hand in hand with material goods to create a narrative that might be obscured otherwise. However ethnoarchaeology places a heavy emphasis on active observation with communities that still exist and can offer insight to how their culture functions and the implications archaeologists can therefor place on former cultures.

The Cowichan

The Cowichan style is an interesting case of how a native people subjected to the advent of colonialism use and adapt new technologies by combining old ones into a new and inspired product. In this case the Cowichan name comes from the Cowichan valley on Vancouver Island. However it didn’t only occur in the areas and the Coast Salish were known to have knitted in the style throughout the area. Coming from missionaries coming into the Vancouver area in the mid 1850’s the Cowichan quickly adapted the new knitting technologies into their new style using an already rich history of basketry and weaving.

The Cowichan brand soon became well known across the US and there are known accounts of sweaters being taken over seas for WWII which soon became popular due to their durable nature and ability to retain heat and keep out moisture. Patterns on the sweater were often inspired by past history or even designs that were fancied. One known example is a sweater knitted with a Chinese dragon motif, inspired by an imported tea box. Sweaters in general have a heavily knitted collar and made seamless through knitting techniques.


However not all is well with the knitting style, in the process of becoming famous there are many “copy cat” styles that although Cowichan “inspired” are not true items in the Cowichan style. This comes by different seam lines, non-native design and various other little tid-bits such as dyed wool and a different treatment process. This has resulting in native knitters taking shortcuts such as bigger yarn and needles and smaller projects in order to keep up with national demand. Judging by the vast number of knock offs the style itself is in trouble of not retaining it’s native origins.



(Note: the booties above are not Cowichan in origin)

For my own personal project I’ve decided to knit baby booties in (hopefully) a similar style. This mostly means yarn types and colors, wool treatment and design. Although baby booties lack the amount of space to make the elaborate patterns the sweaters have become world famous over. They’re not quite done yet, still needing some last minute duplicate stitching to finalize the pattern but I’ll be totting them around class. (I’ll upload a pic on the blog when they are 100% finished)

For a more in-depth posting on the Cowichan sweater and where I got some of the pictures from I suggest looking at: http://blog.ounodesign.com/2009/12/21/the-cowichan-sweater-of-vancouver-island/ for more information!




Medicine Here and Now

“Drinking too much of a certain potent potable may require a leave of absinthe”

-From punoftheday.com

From: homesanctuary.typepad.com

From: homesanctuary.typepad.com

As seen in our assemblage, a vast majority of our examples seem to be of the medicinal type holding various tonics (about 29% of our assemblage). It’s hard to know exactly what was in the bottles and what they were used for so I took it upon myself to look around the internet for bottles with their labels still in tact. What I found is that not only were a good majority of these bottles were medicine for coughs but also that their ingridients would be considered downright illegal to sell in that state today.

It’s hard to imagine in a day where vaccines and modern medicine can nearly eliminate the large amount of diseases that were prevalent in earlier times. In the above photo we see an example of medicine for whooping cough, which is not nearly as prevalent as it is today thanks to vaccines which I know I received as a child. Just from googling around to find differing examples of cough medicine I was taken aback by the sheer number of different brands for the same illnesses (and the questionable ingredients in them). My favorite example found online was this bottle which contained fun ingredients such as:

1. Cannabis


3. Morphine



Although the above picture refuses to comply, nowhere on the bottle does this state if this is for children or adults. Just “one teaspoon every three to four hours depending on the severity of the cough”. What is interesting about the above sample is that it complies with the 1906 “Gould Amendment to the Pure Food and Drug Act” which requires products to list their ingredients and information on the bottle (Taken from the sha.org site). This doesn’t mean that their ingredients were necessarily “safe” but just have known information on the product. Nearly all these ingredients today are much harder to access without a prescription or the right permits, so seeing these three ingredients mixed together for a cough might suggest how severe these coughs may be for these people at the time or perhaps it was popular due to easy acquirement and abuse.

From: dailymed.nlm.nih.gov

From: dailymed.nlm.nih.gov

The above picture is of a modern medcine label which now has side effects, ingridient information, usage and various other warnings such as for pregnant women and even a hotline for parents to call about children abusing cough syrup. Although the Pure Food Act certainly helped get the ball rolling I can’t help to think of how many people were taking previous forms of medicine without really understanding what was going in their body. Although going off in a tangent, I think that people today also have this same problem although there is much more information avaliable today on these types than there was back then.

Also Fun Fact: often times these companies were not required to list the volume information until September 3, 1914 (which occurred about 15 years before the Seattle dump we looked at was sealed and ~15 years after our mean date which is about 1898). As anyone who has taken (or rather chugged) the generic brand of cough syrup or allegry medication, having a volume count to help you portion out your samples is useful so you don’t end up a droning zombie after a unfortunate encounter with NightQuil. It even comes with a measurable cap to help you portion out. Different from older medicines that used only corks or seals.

This makes dating the assemblage from Seattle a bit easier in regards to bottles that have volume information (generally seen similar to a symbol looking like “3iv”) this means the bottles most likely date to about 1914 when the law was put into effect and at least two bottle matches this from the collection (45K1765/Lw-1 is one example). Due to the dump being sealed in 1929 and the regulation before placed in 1914, this means there is a much smaller window of only fifteen years from when the bottle was probably produced to when it was finally discarded. One final note is the rather high lag date we recieved in our group project for these particular set of items. At 37.17 years for the lag date, this means that the medicine was either being kept around or being reused for later points in time. This is interesting due to the perishable contents found within. With all the laws and regulations today on medicine, looking back into bottles of the time is an inside look into how people regarded medicine and the casual use of what we consider now today opiates.

Material Types and Age (With lots and lots of Biases)

Examining the graveyard through our pleasant walk in the rain we came across various graves that were obviously re-buried over time. However our group noted several biases which I will go into greater detail below. For starters here is a stacked materials graph over a period of years. This graphs shows only the death dates and in the case of multiple burials on the same slab, the earlier date is shown.

Although only speculated in my lab report, Jacob noted that there is more grave interments post-war era and during the Spanish flu era (starting in 1918) However it is difficult to know for sure what the cause of death was during these periods. Jacob speculates in his post in greater detail how the larger sample pre-spanish flu may be due to a “generational” die off post civil war.

As for the material type there certainly fondness for granite and although the chart does not show the material polish there was a common feature  of the younger graves having a polished finish, monument types and family plots were the main example in this case. Throwing together (I admit a very bootlegged) serration graph we saw these results.

Our main assumptions is that there is a popular usage of metal, namely copper only after the World Wars, perhaps this may be due to a style shift or a better abundance of the material for sale. Simple stone monuments are also seen in the older graves until they are put more into granite and polished. There were more than one grave we noted where the material on the outside was simply made of concrete.

However this lab has many problems with its data sets. For example as mentioned before, reburials not matching the material types for the era buried. There is also a matter of small sample size, which in this case should be about 30 or so. Another problem is that the Calvary Graveyard is in majority, a Catholic graveyard.I can only give my own assumptions but in my family graveyard (a protestant one) the majority of the graves are in red stone or in metal temp monuments. This may be due to location of materials for headstones and the religious background playing effect. Seattle is a larger city so it would make sense for a wider array of headstones over time since there would be more manufactures to choose from. This can be seen hopefully by the wide range of materials seen in the graph and at the graveyard itself.

We only have an example from one graveyard. Here is a brief pic of the one I mentioned above.

The Kelly Cemetery (My family’s graveyard) located in central Oregon. URL Link:http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4096/4916475595_2cfe6e7b94_o.jpg. Note that some of the styles located here are completely absent from the Calvary cemetery.

There may be a preferred style here that is only used by Catholic families. For example the majority of the graves that had decorations had crosses on them and other catholic imagery. There is also a problem that there is a large number of clergy buried at the graveyard which is a large sample size of a similar style (simple stone slabs noting the rank of the clergy member). Cremations are also missing from this data set and therefor there is no data on those dates. There may be a time period when cremations were preferred but the lab did not ask for the data. The mausoleum was also off-limit at the time we were there.

Overall this posting gives a brief glimpse into the material types preferred over time, however in order to make the data better more samples are needed from this site and from many others.




A Brief Overview of the History of Gas Works Park



I happen to have many fond memories of Gas Works Parks over the years, running around the old machinery, rolling down the large hill at high speeds and of course gazing out onto the skyline of Seattle like Gatsby looking for Daisy. However the monolith that is the gas works building has remained an enigma to me and hopefully through this post a little bit of how it became the urban park it is today will be told.


First of all a quick overview of its dirty past. Gas Works Park was formerly known under the Seattle Gas Light Company and soon changing its name to the “Seattle Gas Company” in 1930 up until 1956 when it was disbanded. As for the plant itself that was integral in giving large amounts of power for lighting, heating and other various uses through its “coal-to-gas” machinery. However by 1956 this all became obsolete and the land the park would be built on was left abandoned until it changed hands and the deed to the plant’s land was handed over to the City of Seattle in 1962. The plot of land itself was in a valuable area when it was first built had been popular before with loggers so already the land had seen heavy use before the city decided to take on the project.

Gas Works 2002

Aerial Map of Gas Works Park from August 2002. Credit to “http://www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=293”

These two maps show the present and past layouts (right after the City of Seattle had bought the property0 of Gas Works. Notice the lack of a majority of buildings and the large grassy areas now present. Hard to imagine that this once industrial work horse is now a public space. There is still a strong shipping scene on both sides of the area even into the present day.

Gas Works 1965 "Credit to https://digital.lib.washington.edu/architect/structures/3311/"

“Aerial view of the Seattle Gas Works, 1965; from the City of Seattle, Parks and Recreation Department”

Credit to https://digital.lib.washington.edu/architect/structures/3311/

Now this 20.5 acre plot was given over to the architect Richard Haag (as many may already know was a professor at the UW in architecture) in order to turn the building into a public landscape. Although many of the pipes and machinery were kept intact and left in a dormant state, it was also restricted in how much the public has access to it against Haag’s wishes. Today the park remains popular with tourists and locals alike and I won’t lie, I plan on having a picnic there this Thursday.

One thing I didn’t really realize was how polluted the area still is. According to link followed at http://www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=293 the water is hazardous and forbidden from entry. Granted it should have been expected from an older gas company that used coal as its main fuel source and apparently it switched from oil over to coal in 1937 which, according to the article on Wallingford history, any basements excavated will hold traceable amounts of the pollution from the Gas Plant when it was still functional. However Haag as an architect seemed like the right choice as the park was built in a fashion to expedite environmental healing such as its hills and drainage options. The famous zodiac sundial (that I can never get to work because it is always too cloudy) was installed by Charles Greening and overlooks the famous Seattle skyline at the highest point the public can walk on.

Gas Works 2001

Gas Works Park, October 2001
HistoryLink.org Photo by Priscilla Long

This is a common view of Gas Works today though you won’t view the over grown grass and weeds just past the fence that doesn’t prevent the graffiti. Its rather dirty history does encourage me a bit that such a pollution causing area was turned into a public park. I still plan on rolling down the hills this Thursday though.


Direct Url References linked from https://digital.lib.washington.edu/ (photos should have their urls and references with them)





A Short Note on Garbology at UW

I was lucky enough (or unlucky enough depending on who you ask) to live a summer in the bustling city of Bend Oregon, right in the heart of a suburb that didn’t exist over ten years ago. On our way to run errands we would sometimes pass by the city dump with its high brick walls and the seagulls flying overhead. Honestly it only made more apparent of the growing trash pile in the back (in which you won’t see on the county website).  In 1990 there were about 23,000 people, today there are about 80,000 people in what is known as one of the faster growing cities in the US (taken from http://www.biggestuscities.com/city/bend-oregon).

So what does this have to do with garbology?

UW itself is about half the size of Bend so it is basically a small city unto itself. Although it lacks a UW dump, the trash output is probably considerable, though I lack knowledge on just how much it packed away each day. There is also a problem that a lot of this trash will not be domestic goods as not all students live on campus. To gain insight on just what is thrown away on a day to day basis and to give an insight on who these people are, our assignment was to go through two trash bins and take note of what and how much was being thrown away.

Our areas chosen was in our very own Denny hall where we took a smaller garbage can and one bag from a larger dumpster out back from a collective that might have shared its location with others. Since I’m used to digging around the trash and sorting out the recycling at my job I had no trouble being the one to open the bag and start rooting around like the raccoon I always knew I was.

My spirit animal during the lab. (http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com/WI/223/4201/PreviewComp/SuperStock_4201-77534.jpg)

My spirit animal during the lab (sans trash eating).(http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com/WI/223/4201/PreviewComp/SuperStock_4201-77534.jpg)

Inside we found:

object description #
coffee cup (starbucks)


chewing tobacco
pencil shavings
plastic bottle


food box


salad container
microwave dinner
paper flatware
chip bag


blue gloves
paper towels/napkins






apple sauce cups


plastic bag
granola bar


No surprise that most of these items had to do with food and food containers with a large amount of paper towels to go alongside. An inference here can be made that students generally tend to buy snacks and food items located on campus (Starbucks and the common compostable food containers come to mind) but as always assumptions should be heeded with caution. One of the main things I noticed was that a good amount of items still either had product in them (such as the barely touched salad and the half empty soda bottles) and/or were compostable/recyclable. There is also a decent sample of discarded school items that suggest the academic background. However the overall sample size of that can is small enough that there is always a possibility that those items could be from the same person. Also inside was a can of chewing tobacco which was an interesting find as smoking itself is banned on most places on campus. This may be a response to that ban though its hard to tell if may simply be a preference choice.

It is hard exactly to tell social status only through the trash but the number of bought items does at least suggest that the people are able to afford the pre-packaged meals, coffee and snacks. Since coffee itself can be considered a luxury item the status of the people buying it have the pocket money. Again this is just speculation as our sample is biased to simply whoever was near Denny hall at the time.

It’s hard to tell the exact reason why someone might not recycle a product, whether the bin is too far away or a lack of one in general. There can even be a lack of knowledge of just what can be recycled (such as the Starbucks cups which some people were unsure of in class, for the record they are compostable but the bright white lids are not). In general garbology is an interesting look into the private lives of people, as mentioned in class people may unwilling to share just how much of a particular product they eat or even be unaware of just how much they use. I once heard a long time ago that a garbage pit is one of the better finds an archaeologist can make at a site, inside is a plethora of knowledge into the personal lives of the inhabitants and just exactly how they lived. Although there are some problems with the sample taken from the UW it is a start into the realm of garbology and just what and how people are throwing their unwanted items away.



Misc. Archaeology Blogs

I was lucky enough to find a list of many archaeology blogs hosted though:


It also lists some of the other blogs mentioned already in several postings such as Doug’s Archaeology and Bad Archaeology and many others I have not yet checked out. I’ll list some of the ones I found on the better side and noticing that some of them have already been posted on the blog.


One of the more interesting blogs I found focuses on the author’s different viewpoints and reviews to articles and excavations underway. One of the quotes that I found from him is “the conservationist in me thinks that “discovering sites” just ends up destroying them in the long run” which is an interesting quote to think of compared to the plethora of sites he has commented on. Although some might disagree with his viewpoints and the posting might be on the shorter side. The author also does seem to focus on more European and Egyptian archaeology but it is a good starting point to start looking at different archaeology blogs. Though active his responses tend to be on the shorter side.


This might be a good blog to check out considering the very first post focuses on modern archaeology and modern ruings (however it just is a plug for an exhibit coming out) given this there seems to be a lack of blogs dedicated to more modern archaeology work. There are also several book and article reviews and different updates on some archaeology excavations. The tags are also descriptive to allow the reader to check out several categories my personal favorite being the “meditations” tag that is more on the descriptive part of words of archaeology (if that makes sense).


On another note, I found a blog called “Where in the Hell Am I”, if one is interested in the day to day life of a CRM archaeologist, although frankly the most recent postings are more of a local food review (if you really want to know about tacos).  However there are some good posts such as the one on Blogging Archaeology and its troubles. For example even though this blog is made specifically to enhance public knowledge on just what is done in the CRM, it has only had 15,000 views in total with less than 200 views for each post. It does make me wonder if the general public normally searches for items like these or if these blogs only seem to cater to achaeologists/enthusiasts in the end.

Kirk’s Bio!

Tutankhamun exhibit 2013

Tutankhamun exhibit 2013

Kerstin Snodgrass is a 22 year old Archaeological Science student currently in her final year at the UW. Interested in a young age about archaeology she has continued her studies and eventually start working in the field within the coming year. Although not specialized at the moment her interests mostly include any work with textiles, sewing and
knitting with other interests scattered throughout. At the moment she is studying Historical Archaeology, Ethnographic archaeology and archaeology in the public sector. On the sidelines she enjoys arts and crafts and learning French and looks forward to what her future brings.

Born in Florida, she was raised actually in the Northwest from a young age. From youth
she gained interest in archaeology first learning about it from her mother’s Tutankhamun
books and decided to pursue that interest instead of becoming an ice cream truck driver
at the age of 8. Her current goals are to graduate with her undergraduate degree  and to gain a job in the field hopefully starting with a job in the CRM or be put onto some field schools.