spring 2019 semester with the Wylie House project meant continuing the
categorizing and labeling of artifacts from the excavation. I ended the fall
semester in the middle of working with the glass artifacts, and was unable to
finish this by the beginning of winter break. When the semester started back
up, I returned right where I left off.
The glass was a
bit easier to label overall, as the B72 labeling material applied and dried
much easier than it had on the ceramics. The same general process of labeling
was performed: first a layer of B72, write the account number, category, and
subcategory numbers over the dried B72; then another layer over top of what was
written to prevent smudging. Instead of doing every piece that was large
enough, it was determined the best process would be to label the ten largest
pieces in each subcategory. This was decided because the glass was far more
numerous than the ceramics, with over two thousand sherds, and because the vast
majority was either aqua or clear flat glass. Some container glass and other
types were found, but the overwhelming majority belonged to these other two
With the help of
Lauren, an undergraduate student, we were able to finish labeling all the glass
as of the end of January. Following the completion of the glass, we turned our
attention to the next major category: metal artifacts. The metal was to be done
a bit differently. Instead of labeling the artifacts directly, we were to just
fill out the account card in the same way we had done with the other artifacts
and use a specialized tag for larger and more unique artifacts. We did not have
the special tags as of the time of this writing, but we will be doing this as
soon as we receive them.
The second half of
the Wylie House project in the Fall semester of 2018 was focused on analysis of
the ceramic materials. Along with students from an Archaeological Lab Methods
course occurring at the same time, ceramics would be analyzed and discussed. To
prepare, I was tasked with organizing ceramics into like categories (such as
unglazed earthenware, porcelain, and many more), then labeling each piece with
the Glenn Black account number, category number, and subcategory number. In
order to do this, we applied a thin layer of a quick-drying agent called B72 to
a part of the artifact, and then would write over this once it had dried with
the lab’s account number, the category number, and subcategory number on each
The account number
reflected the number which will be used to file all Wylie House June 2018
artifacts; the category number reflects the artifact type within the field
specimen (or level) bag; and the subcategory number reflects the more specific
type of artifacts, such as porcelain or unglazed earthenware. This was a long,
drawn-out task of labeling hundreds of sherds, and took place over a number of
weeks. At this same time, I was preparing for my qualifying exams to pass
through into Ph.D. candidacy. Taking some weeks off to focus on that made the
task more urgent to complete in a very short period of time. Thankfully, the
hard work paid off, and the ceramic sherds were all completed for the students
Once the students
were in their groups, they each focused on a different category. I helped the
students where I could, discussing the ceramics or clarifying the object
categorization. The students looked through both the sherds and related books
and articles to help formulate a good overview of the types of ceramics present
at the excavation and the site. They were to create a final project
presentation based on their research to present during finals week. At the same
time the students were performing their research, I began the process of
labeling the next major material category: glass. This aspect of the project
continued into the Spring semester, as there was far more glass than even
ceramics! The labeling and categorizing of the glass was a similar process as
the ceramics. Returning to the student analysis, the end of the semester went
well, and the projects proved to be well thought out.
My name is Lauren Schumacher and I’m a sophomore studying
history and archaeology. I participated in the Wylie House field school in
summer 2018, and am now working with the Wylie House and the Glenn Black Lab to
help process some Wylie collections and develop a mapping system to log
artifacts found on the property in the future.
Garden volunteers have been finding artifacts on the
property long before the field school excavations took place. Although the most
artifacts were recovered during the construction of the Education Center in
2009, bottles, ceramics, buttons, and bones are often found in and around the
garden beds. Since these are isolated artifacts found outside of an official
archaeological dig, part of my job has been to create a user-friendly digital
map and artifact form to allow people to pinpoint where they found an artifact
and describe what it is. This is a way to ensure we have information about the
artifact from the time it was found and to make future artifact processing more
organized. As artifacts begin to be logged, it will be interesting to see the
distribution of artifacts on the map and if there are any concentrations of
certain artifact types in a particular area.
In addition to the digital map, I’ve been making an artifact
identification guide and an animal bone identification guide for the Wylie
House. This process has consisted of researching and compiling information
about the major categories of artifacts found at the Wylie House: ceramics,
bottles, nails, flat glass, buttons, marbles, and bricks. Each of these
categories are broken down into more specific types, such as material,
decoration, and use. The hope is that this guide will help students and
volunteers better identify and describe artifacts. For example, using the
guide, one would be able to identify a ceramic fragment as “salt glazed
stoneware” instead of just “ceramic.” Similarly, the bone identification guide
will help with the identification of animal bones and butcher marks. In this
guide, I looked at the skeletal structure of common types of animals raised and
consumed on a 19th century frontier farm: horses, pigs, cows, sheep, and deer.
This guide proved harder to research, as nearly every search for specific bones
or marks just turned up articles on grilling or pictures of modern butchering.
However, I also found this research very interesting as I had never studied
bones or butchering techniques before.
As the semester goes on, I look forward to helping the Wylie
House as they process more artifacts in their collection and prepare for future
I’ve spent most of the
year getting to know the various Wylie House collections. After being
introduced to the Wylie House through the summer field school, I’ve started to
process the artifacts rescued during the construction of the education center
at Wylie, helped process the artifacts collected during the field school, and
completed a Wylie ceramic analysis project for a class in laboratory methods in
I started processing the
collection at Wylie last semester by roughly sorting the artifacts into their
types and cleaning them. Once they were sorted into the broad categories of
glass, metal, and ceramic, I started to further sort the ceramics into
categories based on the type of ceramic, decorations, and type of vessel sherd
(rim, body, or base). Once the sorting is finished, we will be able to start
labeling the artifacts and entering them into the database. The system for
labeling will be a little less complicated than the one we have been using for
the summer excavation collection, since these artifacts weren’t formally
excavated. Working with the ceramics has been fun, but I’m looking forward to
finishing the sorting and start the labeling process as it will be a nice
change of pace.
From this work at Wylie, labeling the summer excavation artifacts has been interesting since I’ve been able to recognize many of the pieces through my other work with Wylie artifacts. In particular, there is a set of glass tumblers that I first saw in Sherry’s collection that continue to pop up in the glass fragments collected during the summer excavation. Finding these surprising little connections has definitely made the labeling of hundreds of flat glass fragments more exciting. With that being said, I am looking forward to being done with the glass and starting to label the metal artifacts. After seeing a collection all the way through from excavation to labeling, I’m excited to get back to work on the Wylie collection and see it completely processed after being neglected for so many years.
Hello and welcome back to another blog post by me, Scout Landin! I am a senior about to graduate in August with a double major in anthropology and food studies. I am very passionate on learning about cultures and societies -especially through food and diet! I also really enjoy being outside in nature and working with my hands during this field school opportunity.
On this cloudy and overcast day, most people are probably inside and wishing it wasn’t gray out. On the other hand, the students at the Wylie House field school are welcoming the cool breeze and working their butts off In their last week (can you believe it’s been three weeks already?! Because I seriously cannot…). Today, I have been working on opening Unit 3 to the north, south and west. Last Friday, we thought our feature was in the next unit to the east, in Unit 1, but in Unit 3 we have uncovered lot of bricks and mortar and an outline that suggests the hot house/ green house is actually in that unit. Our plan is to open the three sides to uncover the outline like the one we have seen from last Friday. This entails digging up the humus, or the topsoil, then digging into what we call layer 2. This process usually takes awhile because we are skim-shoveling and making sure the ground is level for each layer. Once that’s done we still have to trowel back to get a clear view of the soil and the outline we will hopefully see.
While I was digging and expanding our unit, I found some really neat things. I found my first piece of ceramic wear, plain white pieces (the big rectangle looking piece) and other small pieces. Other people have found the pretty blue and purple transfer wear when they were digging; and in the screen someone found a ceramic/clay marble. These artifacts, especially the ones that I found, give me hope by the end of this week we will proudly say we have found the Wylie family’s hot house.
26 June 2018
Hi again, it’s Tori. So today was spent working on excavating our greenhouse feature (for real this time), covering everything fom torrential downpour, and then repeating what we did originally to fix the effects of rain and our tarps. Rainy days are still eventful at Wiley House, because they give us the opportunty to keep up with paperwork, wash artifacts, and process data. One thing I have been working on with data processing is creating photogrammetric models of the first unit I worked on, unit 2. These three-dimensional models are created by using software that stitches together multiple two-dimmensional images. It creates a model that can show soil color and stratigraphy, enable exact measurementsto be taken, and give us the ability to view a unit from angles that are not otherwise possible. Photogrammetry is a relatively new tool that is being used by archaeologists, and we use the technology on a daily basis in underwater archaeology.
While I really miss being underwater documenting shipwrecks, it is great to have terrestrial experience from this field project. I am grateful for this experience not only for the techniques I have learned that are used in terrestrial archaeology, but also for bettering and adapting my previous skills from underwater archaeology. I owe everyone a huge ‘thank you’ for helping me catch up after a late start and for explaining the process to me and teaching me. I can’t believe our time is almost over here, but we will have plenty of time together this semester processing artifacts- a task that lasts much longer than the field projet itself!
27 June 2018
Hello all, I’m Maclaren Guthrie and I am the undergraduate archaeological assistant for this field school. During the past fall semester I was one of Indiana University’s Bicentennial interns. My project was focused on the transition from agriculture to floriculture especially in relation to Bloomington and the Wylie family which culminated in the exhibit in the Wylie House Education Center for this field school.
Today I’m here to talk to you about something extremely exciting: we have finally identified the greenhouse! The feature (feature 1) we previously thought was the greenhouse ended up dissipating and was too small to match the dimensions of the pit that Theophilus Wylie III recalled in his memory map. We have now rediscovered the pit in our unit 3/unit 3 extension areas, where it does seem to mimick T.A.W. III’s remembered size of about 6 ft wide.
In addition to focusing our excavation efforts on this super interesting feature, we also backfilled two of our completed units this morning. Backfilling is a necessary part of archaeology, though it is a labor intensive and not super fun endeavor. Luckily, the Wylie House had a wheelbarrow we borrowed to move dirt more quickly. Unit 2 and unit 4 were both completely refilled with dirt as we got the information we needed from the soil and profiles, so they were no longer required since they weren’t part of our greenhouse feature.
28 June 2018
Hi! My name is Jorge Rios Allier, I am a first year PhD student in Anthropology Department. My research project is focus to explain the interactions between heritage users and owners in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, mainly focus in explain the economic value of archaeology and how archaeology can be useful to create development for local people.
The Wylie House Bicentennial project has been a good opportunity to learn how historic archaeology is done in United States. Also it has been a huge chance to know more about the history of IU since his first steps. The Wylie House Museum is an extraordinarily project that combines different fields: History, Building maintenance, restoration, archaeology, master gardening, agricultural knowledge, etc.
Today wasn’t a regular day, it started so excited because we visited to the Wylie House’s roof. The roof is a place for a deep breath, the original view allowed to see the first IU Bloomington campus that nowadays is a park and a shopping mall. All the team took some funny photos, also me even I am not a photogenic one.
About the fieldwork, today is a three stations day. The first one is the pit filling activity, because we are in the last week all the ended pits has to be cover and most of the crew is helping with that. The second one is the delimitation of the main project feature that we can call it “the green house wall”, it is interesting the construction technology of the XIX century for me. The third one was the total station interaction for students, always is useful to know the basics, no matters if you have the newest technology.
Finally, I would say that Wylie House Bicentennial experience has been an enriching one for me. This project, in particular, could have an enormous impact on IU identity in this celebration times.
Hi everyone it’s Heather! It’s been very hot out today, but we have kept on working and have made progress! Having canopies and tree cover over our work areas has been a huge help!
So, today we have been working in each of the units we have open. We opened up three units last week, and we are making progress in each of them! Bricks have been located in units 3 and 5. We have also found large pieces of glass shards, terra cotta sherds, bone fragments, and we continue to find some small pieces of transferware. Unit 4 has made it down to level 3 of their unit, and have begun helping excavate unit 5. Unit 2 is almost at a stopping point for their unit, and may be split up and start helping the newer units. Just a few minutes ago, unit 5 found a pig molar in their unit.
I have been working in unit 2, and it has proven to be a bit of a challenge. We have been in layer 2, the rubble layer, for a few days now. It is several centimeters deep and we had only just started to see the bottom of the layer at the end of the day Friday. We are still working on getting the unit flat, and we will see what the next level tells us!
19 June 2018
Hello, it’s Hannah again! It is the twelfth day out here at the Wylie House dig site. It is another beautiful, but hot day outside, so we decided to start early to beat the heat. Even though it is hot outside, we have had a productive day. Unit 1, unit 3, and unit 5 have expanded to include a unit 6, but instead of being separate units it is one large feature unit. The feature unit contains the subterranean greenhouse that we have been looking for, and we opened up a sixth unit to determine if the edge of the feature could be found there, but it was determined that the feature is only in units 1, 3, and 5. The feature found is believed to be the greenhouse due to the different colored soil and because that soil creates a series of right angles. Today, the feature unit was scraped clean and photographed and is now being mapped. In unit 4, we have finally found the bottom of layer 2 and are now prepping for a photograph. Another important factor is taking care of the artifacts. Elizabeth and Scout are busy washing artifacts as the day winds down to a close. If you’re interested in seeing our progress, come see us soon!
20 June 2018
Hi guys, it’s Brenna again! Today is a gorgeous day, with a nice breeze helping to cool things down a bit and luckily no rain. We spent this morning finishing up the mapping of units 1,3,5, and 6 as well as photographing and mapping the profile walls in unit 4. We’re now focusing on the feature in the northern set of units, where we’ve laid out another quadrant that will separate the feature into different areas so that it’s easier to excavate and sift through. So far today we’ve found what looks to be an old metal hook, which came from unit 1, and shards of glass from unit 3. As we dig deeper into the feature our findings will help us piece together how the Wylie’s filled in the greenhouse and evidence of what they could have stored there as well. Unit 4 is doing Munsell’s of the profile walls that they mapped earlier, making sure that everything is identified and recorded as well as it possibly can be. As we dig deeper we’re going to uncover even more information about the Wylie’s and their greenhouse, so come by and see our progress!
21 June 2018
Angel Mounds Field Trip
Hello everyone, it’s Elizabeth again and today we started off the morning a little different than usual. Instead of our typical meet at the 7-8 am time frame, we met at 8:30. Extra sleep time! The purpose of this late meet up was our field trip to Angel Mounds in Evansville, Indiana. Just as a little background context for later, I’m actually from Evansville, so when we found out that our field trip was to Angel Mounds I joked that I get to go home for a day. So about 8:45 we hopped in our IU official vehicles and began our two hour journey to the site. Molly and Liz were our two designated drivers for the day with Maclaren and Jorge as their respective copilots. Now I’m not sure how the ride in Molly’s car was, but in Liz’s car things got interesting with the Bluetooth and radio really fast. In the long run, we gave up on either for most of the trip and listened to podcasts and npr on someone’s phone.
When our two hour trip was up, we all grouped together in parking lot of Angel Mounds waiting for another few minutes for it to open. As we waited, Liz gave us a nice in depth explanation about the site and its archaeological and historical background. She told us about how the mound you see off to the right when you turn in to the parking lot is called a Woodland mound and how it’s different from the other mounds at the Angel site, how Angel is connected to other sites such as Cahokia in Illinois, as well as the contemporary descendants of the peoples that lived at Angel.
Once the museum opened, we went inside and explored everything it had to offer, from interactive displays to physical Angel artifacts. Having grown up in Evansville I had been many times to Angel Mounds and seen this museum each time I went, so while it wasn’t completely new to me there was a pleasant sense of nostalgia I could share with my group. And even more exciting were the new exhibits at the end of the museum that I had yet to see.
By far the most amazing part about the trip was going outside and climbing to the top of Mound A. The view was absolutely beautiful! During our trek to the mound, we stopped along the way for more tidbits of information from Liz. In particular the idea that these mounds were perfectly aligned with specific phases of the moon was fascinating. Brenna joked that she can’t even find North on her own, so it’s impressive that they were so exact in their calculations. However, my favorite discussion point of the day was by far the future of Angel and the collaboration with descendants and the repatriation that is planned. You don’t often think about the multifaceted abilities of a place until you are presented with them head on and this was definitely the case here. This is especially true when you grow up and are told a place is one thing, like a historic site, but later learn it means so much more to others such as Angel’s descendants.
After our amazing adventure to Mound A, we stopped by the gift shop and got caught up in all of the friendship bracelets, arrow points, books and dream catchers to the point where nearly everyone bought something. To finish out the day, we went to a pizza place called Turoni’s and I learned there was a location of this place I’ve never been to! It was a great end to the day, a way to wind down and just talk with everyone and make plans for our week left at the Wylie House site. Well, thanks for tuning in and keeping up with our progress! We really love the community involvement we’ve been receiving, so please keep it coming!
22 June 2018
Hi guys, it’s Lauren again! Today has been an exciting one despite the weather. This morning we had 6 volunteers join us in our continuing excavations of Unit 3, Unit 4, and Feature 1. This group was made up of a previous vounteer José, Maclaren’s grandmother, and a team from the Children’s Museum’s archaeology lab incuding my aunt. My aunt was able to help me dig in the small unit Brenna and I started in the northeast quadrant of Feature 1 earlier this week. Being a conservator at the Children’s Museum, she enjoyed learning how to excavate artifacts instead of processing them. While community involvement is awesome, getting to show off your work to your family is pretty great too. We were able to dig through the orange clay we’ve been associating with Feature 1, a silty brown layer of soil we named Layer 4, and are now on to Layer 5.
About an hour before the volunteers left, it started pouring down rain. After a mad dash to the barn, and a few nasty slips in the mud, the volunteers started to wash some artifacts. While they washed, the rest of us continued to fill out the paperwork associated with our units and features. Paperwork is much harder than it sounds and almost always leaves us with questions as we try to interpret the quick notes we take in order to fill in missing information. Once we got our paperwork sorted, we got back to digging. Hopefully we will find more artifacts to add to our exciting finds this morning: a marble and a piece of purple transferware. Come out and visit us next week as we enter the home stretch of our excavation!
Hi guys, my name is Elizabeth Berry and I’m a recent graduate from IU (Class of 2018!). I graduated with a BA in Anthropology and Germanic Studies with a minor in History. Wylie House is my first dig site experience and hopefully not the last. I’m using my time here as internship experience before going back for graduate school in Fall 2019.
Today marks the sixth day of the dig and the addition of Tori to our team. The rain was a bit intense this morning, so we started at 10 am instead of 8 am to avoid the worst of it. We started out the morning with washing and dry brushing some of the artifacts that we’ve encountered up til now. Certain pieces are actually rinsed in the “salad spinners” (as we called them this morning) while others such as coal are only dry brushed and placed on the tray. Once all the pieces are dry, they will go back into their assigned artifact bags until further analysis, etc. can be done with them. After this, we set up our tents and screening areas as normal. Unit 1 is currently tasked with getting rid of the layer 2 soil still in the unit in hopes of uncovering our layer 3 or subsoil. Thus far the usual bits of coal, brick and glass have been found. Unit 2 on the other hand have found a button made of shell (found by Tori) and a bucket handle. And as both units get further and further in, the more we are separating into various buckets and trays to isolate the different layers and any “possible features” we may come across. Hopefully the weather behaves the rest of this week and we can get right back on track.
12 June 2018
Hi everyone! My name is Lauren Schumacher and I am a sophomore at IU majoring in history and minoring in archaeology. I’m particularly excited about this project since we have so many first hand accounts and photographs to reference when planning the next step in our excavation.
Despite the occasional rain, today has been an exciting day for archaeology as we were able to add some interesting stories and artifacts to our growing collection. This morning, we learned about the darker side of the Wylie House from Sherry, the master plantsman. We asked if the barn or the house was haunted and to our surprise she said some believe the ghost of a red haired woman in a yellow dress haunts the house. You can see her depicted in the mural. Interestingly, there is a yellow-green dress in the Wylie House collection. Though none of us have seen the ghost (yet), we all thought it was fun to learn a little more about our site. Hopefully we can draw the ghost woman out to our units with some more interesting finds!
Today, we embraced 21st century archaeology as we found diagnostic artifacts in one of the two new units we opened up directly to the west of our previously existing units. While screening the topsoil, Unit 4 found remnants of a Pizza X cup. This is a great example of a diagnostic artifact, or an artifact indicitave of a particular time. This cup is clearly modern given that it’s made of plastic and was found in the very top layer of soil. We know the Wylies weren’t eating Pizza X on their front lawn, but it seems as if someone else was!
As we start to excavate our two new units, we hope to find more artifacts appropriate to the time period and hear more stories from people in the community to give us a better understanding of our site!
13 June 2018
I am Tori, a junior majoring in Anthropology and Underwater Archaeology with a certificate in Resource Management. I have been on many underwater archaeology field projects, but this is my first swing at terrestrial work! So far project has been great, and all of the students have helped me catch up from the first week that I missed. Today we found more buttons in unit two, the unit with all of the tree roots, which has lead to us naming the neighboring tree “the button tree”. Sherry, the master plantsman at Wylie House, showed us a matching button she had found a few years ago, which was very cool. Also, we thought we had found another feature (possibly a second greenhouse), but it turned out to be an abnormal color pattern in the soil. We are beginning to excavate level 4 today so keep your fingers crossed!
14 June 2018
Hi guys, my name is Scout Landin. I graduated in May with a double major in anthropology and food studies. While I am really interested in food anthropology in different cultures and societies, I wanted to spend my summer learning the practical side of anthropology through the subfield of archeology at the Wylie House field school!
Today in our field school, I learned how to do a profile, which includes a profile map of one of the unit’s walls. To begin that process we needed to level the wall so we could see the stratigraphy clearly. Once we made a perfectly straight and level wall, we had to set up our measurements and equipment so that we can measure each level correctly. The next step after that is to make a scaled map of each level of soil to represent the whole profile wall in the unit. I had a lot of fun pairing up with Molly and learning this step in the process. When we were done with the map, we officially finished our first profile wall in Unit 1! Even though this process may sound particularly simple, it takes a lot of attention to detail and willing to practice and be precise.
Something that I did not get to do everyday in college is being able to learn with my hands and here at the field school I can do just that! I have really enjoyed my time here at the Wylie House and I think my geologist dad would appreciate how much time I have been spending with dirt.
15 June 2018
Welcome back, readers, and happy Friday! My name is Joseph, and when I am not doing archaeology I work as avisiting researcher in the IU chemistry department.
As happens every Friday, this morning we welcomed five new temporary volunteers to our ranks. Today’s adventuresome helpers were Danielle, Mackenzie, Susan, and James (who is the IU Historian!). Together, they assisted us with screening for artifacts and cleaning walls with trowels. Everyone had a great time swapping stories and learning new techniques, and we were sad to see them leave at lunch. With their help, we accomplished quite a bit.
One of our biggest accomplishments was starting a new excavation unit. Unit 5 (see pictures) is a 1 m x 1 m square unit that is adjacent to the unit containing our greenhouse feature. We began digging through the topsoil and have just started to reach the layer of rubble that lies underneath. Our goal with this unit is to better understand the shape of the feature which we found in unit 1.
In addition, we also found a sheep bone in our deepest excavation unit (unit 2 – see pictures). Wiley family records of livestock ownership suggest that the sheep would have been owned by Andrew Wiley, not his cousin Theophilius. This is exciting! We have found evidence of Andrew Wiley’s subsistence farming practices. (Most of our material culture so far is tied to Theophilius and other second generation Wiley inhabitants.
Next week, we will continuing excavating our units. One of our main goals is to better understand the feature we found and excavated this week, using the stratigraphic data we will collect from unit 5. Stop by next week to see how we’re doing!
Hello and welcome to the Wylie House Field School!
As a part of this archaeological field school, students will receive intensive training in controlled excavation techniques, field survey, instrument mapping, artifact identification, and artifact analysis. In addition to learning these skills, students will be using this blog to document their daily work at the Wylie House site. They will have the opportunity to describe their personal experiences in the field, what they found interesting or exciting about the excavation, and they will be able to document various techniques they learned, equipment they used, and artifacts they collected.
Nine undergraduates and two graduate students from Indiana University have come together to spend four weeks excavating in the front lawn of the Wylie House, the home of Indiana University’s first president, Andrew Wylie, and his family. This field school will focus on uncovering the location and extent of a subterranean greenhouse(s?) used by the family of TheophilusWylie, cousin to Andrew Wylie, to store non-food plants over the winter.
My name is Molly Mesner and I am a third year graduate student in the Anthropology Department at Indiana University. While my work mainly focuses on the Middle Woodland Period in Indiana, I am thrilled to have a chance to help excavate a Historic Period site! On our first day at the site, students were given a tour of the Wylie House by Carey Beam, the Director of the Wylie House Museum. Students then prepared their tools for the excavation, including sharpening trowels and shovels, and marked off the areas to be excavated. After peeling off the first layer of grass, students already recovered various historic artifacts, including shards of glass, brick fragments, and a nail! The team is excited to continue with the excavation tomorrow — hopefully with as much enthusiasm as they put into sharpening their shovels!
5 Jun 2018
My name is Heather Altepeter and I am a senior at IU majoring in anthropology. I am also on the team for the Wylie House Bicentennial dig. I got involved in this project to gain some hands on experience with archaeology, as this is my first dig! So far we have made. A lot of progress, but still have so much more to do! The first two days have been a blast, and it’s been so nice outside so we have been able to accomplish a lot!
So today we were working on cleaning and up and leveling out the floors of the first level of the 2 units we started yesterday. So far we have found nails, glass, limestone rubble, plastic, and some coal. Throughout the day we have learned more about shovel skimming and using trowels to clean up the walls and floors of our unit. We have also learned how to draw a map that depicts a possible feature we found in Unit 1. I say possible because we are not totally sure what what the discolored dirt may be. We’ve also learned about the extensive paperwork that goes into keeping track of what we are doing, and have taken photos of the possible feature.
6 June 2018
Hello! My name is Hannah and I am a senior here at IU. I am majoring in anthropology and minoring in art history and archaeology and the Wylie House Bicentennial dig is my first time in the field! I was really excited to get started and so far it has been great.
The third day of the Wylie House field school is another beautiful day with clear, blue sky’s. The two units are coming along nicely: unit 1 is working hard at leveling their second level, and unit 2 finished the leveling of level one and did the plan map and Munsell Soil testing. The Munsell soil testing is done by comparing the soil of the unit to the color swatches provided in the Munsell Soil book. The book provides colors ranging from a reddish to a greenish soil color along with the more typical yellow, brown, and black ranges. Each page is labeled and a very common page for archaeological digs in the Midwest is ‘10YR’ which stands for yellow-red. Along with the color of the soil the texture of it is also tested. This is done by a touch test. The archaeologist feels a chunk of soil to determine if it has silt, sand, clay, or a combination in their unit. Unit 1 has a combination of silt and clay, and as unit 2 digs deeper their soil progresses into clay. The third day is winding to a close and a lot of hard work has been done, so feel free to stop by to see our progress!
7 June 2018
Hello everyone, my name’s Brenna and I’m a senior here at IU majoring in anthropology and minoring in art history and archaeology.
Today the weather is fantastic and we’ve made a lot of progress! We’re now digging down to the third level of our units and sifting through the soil for any artifacts that could be there. So far today we’ve found a part of a glass milk bottle, a few piecs of ceramic whiteware and transferware, and some small shards of glass, as well as a large section of what appears to be a brick. In the unit I’m helping excavate we’ve sectioned it off into three separate layers based on the stratigraphy of the soil so we can get a better understanding of what might be a feature and what might not. We’ve got layer one, which is our silty top layer with only a few artifacts being found there, then layer two is our darker soil, with the majority of our artifacts coming from this area, and then layer three is our sub soil, which indicates we’ve reached a section of soil that hasn’t been majorly disturbed and we can expect to find almost no artifacts there. This sub soil layer is very helpful in pinpointing where more features might be and allows us to better plan where else to dig. I’m sure as we go further we’ll find even more interesting artifacts, so make sure to drop by and see!
8 June 2018
Good afternoon, dear reader. I am Joseph, a student volunteer working on the Wiley House Bicentennial excavations. When I am not doing archaeology, I work in the IU chemistry department.
Today was as dull as our trowels, which is to say it wasn’t. This morning, four intrepid volunteers came to labor beside us: José (who found four nails while screening soil), Catherine (who regaled us with stories of her previous work in Midwest archaeology and education), Suzanne (who helped us screen through the toughest soil we had), and Daisy (who found an honest-to-God ornate handle – see picture). Everyone had a wonderful time working together and getting to know each other and the volunteers helped us accomplish a lot. By lunch time, unit 2 had started a new level of excavations, and unit 1 was getting ready to do the same.
In unit 1, we scraped our way down through about 5-7 cm of soil, to the bottom of our third level of excavations. We leveled our unit out at this depth, and then took photographs of the soil surface. We mapped this surface by hand, using tape measures and a plumb line (see picture), taking special note of roots. Creating maps in this way will help us to determine whether changes in soil color and texture indicate potential features or are the remains of root systems or rodent runs.
Other interesting finds for the day include a metal hook and a ceramic marble, both of which were in unit 2 (see pictures).
We are making good progress, and are starting to see signs of subsoil. Soon, we might get to open another unit. Next week, we invite you to stop by and see!
by Rachna Chaudhari, Bicentennial Intern, Spring 2017
Based on the family correspondences, it is fair to say religion was the center of life for the Wylie family. Because Andrew Wylie was a Presbyterian minister, this makes sense. It is also quite possible the Wylie’s were much more religious than the ordinary citizen because of this. Almost all of the letters mention God in one way or another. In one letter, Andrew Wylie wrote to Margaret Wylie on May 25th, 1829,
“I have felt more sensibly than ever since I left you the importance of living near to God & drawing all our comforts hopes & consolations from his mercy in Christ Jesus as promised in the gospel to the penitent & believing. May we feel our need of Christ more & more & live by faith upon him. We have much reason to bless God for all his goodness to us & to our family. There is one thing that we ought to desire for them above all earthly good, that they may become the subjects of divine grace & the King of Eternal life. Give my love to them all, & believe me to be in the bonds of the tenderest & sincerest affection your loving husband.”
This quote speaks volumes about Andrew Wylie’s strong devotion to God.
For the Wylie family and other nineteenth century Americans, religious faith was a crucial source of comfort. However, it is clear that as the years went on, even Andrew Wylie himself did not completely assuage his grief following the passing of his sons. Andrew Wylie was a man of many talents. He was a minister, professor, president, father, and a laborer. He was an amazing individual who somehow managed all of these roles. But it is clear he faced grief and had problems coping with it just like anyone else. After Samuel’s death, Andrew writes in a letter to John H. Wylie on January 4th, 1851, “I have begun feel the weight of the years. I eat not with the relish I once enjoyed.” Even through all of this, Andrew Wylie does not forget to remain humble and thankful for all he does have as he says,
“I look back over the varied scenes of a life of toil and care; & can see in the way in which God has led me “these forty”—more than that—“years in the wilderness” much, very very much, for which I ought to be thankful; and also humble.”
In the above passage, Andrew Wylie references Deuteronomy 8:2 which says, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Andrew Wylie views his troubles and tribulations as a test from God, and his triumph represents his faith and loyalty to God.
The early nineteenth century was a time of much uncertainty. Concepts like vaccination and pasteurization were either still developing or brand new. Many people died at young ages of various diseases like measles, scarlet fever, and consumption (tuberculosis). Infant and child mortality rates were high, and outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, and other fevers were very common. Four of Andrew Wylie’s twelve children died at fairly young ages, and one of them, John Hosea, died of consumption.
All in all, the nineteenth century was a dangerous era to live in. Andrew Wylie’s ninth daughter, Irene Catherine died in 1878 after falling out of a carriage at the age of 49. It is obvious why, in this era, people constantly looked to God for comfort.
[Letters], Wylie Family Correspondences, Collection C203, Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.
by Rachna Chaudhari, Bicentennial Intern, Spring 2017
These days, it is so easy to find out information. You may even find something you are not looking for! With internet accessibility and everyone posting readily on every social media outlet that is available, it’s simple. The internet is still relatively new, from its birth in the early 1990’s. Before this, people used much slower methods to obtain information, such as paging, telephoning, and letter writing. Going back even farther to the 19th century, the only form of communication that existed was letter writing. The railroad did not arrive to Bloomington until 1853, and so horse and buggy was the method of transportation used to deliver letters.
It can be assumed that gossip was a common theme of the 19th century, as the Wylie family correspondence contained a lot of it. The Wylie gossip varied greatly; from talk about townspeople to talk about other members of the family. Even in the 19th century, daughters were rebelling against their fathers. In one correspondence dated February 21, 1847, Andrew Wylie says, “Irene learns well: but has gone to balls: a thing of which I do not approve.” Irene was the 9th child of Andrew Wylie, and would have been 18 when Andrew wrote that letter to Samuel Theophylact Wylie.
A faster form of communication came about when the Morse telegraph connected Baltimore to Washington, D.C., in 1844. Now, there was a way for people to get in contact with each other quickly when there were emergencies. Telegraphic speech is simple; consisting of only about 3 or more word sentences. It would not have been practical to send long-winded, elaborate messages like the ones seen in the family letters. The telegraph was quickly outshined and became obsolete, however, by other forms of communication like the telephone.
The telephone was not invented until 1876, 25 years after Andrew Wylie had already passed, and so gossiping in the early-mid 19th century was done through letter writing. Gossip may have been a few weeks or even months old (if it got lost on the way) by the time the news got to the recipient. It is hard to imagine receiving news in such a delayed fashion when this day in age, we are constantly being overloaded with new information every few seconds. Often times, letters would be sent, only for the sender to wonder if the recipient still resides in the same dwelling. In those cases, the letter may never reach the recipient, and the news would be lost forever. In one such instance, Margaret Wylie Martin writes in the first sentence to her sister Elizabeth Wylie McCalla, “enclosed I send a letter to bro. Anderson for you to direct as I do not know whether he is still living at Le Roy N.Y. or not.”
Various family members do their fair share of gossiping, from Andrew Wylie to John H. and Elizabeth Wylie. It is refreshing to note that John H. Wylie would not allow himself to gossip about the dead. He wrote to his sister Elizabeth on April 28, 1851; “Poor Sam, when I write of him or speak of him my tears flow—in reading the other day a book entitled “The Reveries of a Bachelor” I met with the following which reads off my own heart so perfectly…’there are some that talk at table and in their gossip, of dead friends; I wonder how they do it; For myself when the grave has closed its gates on the facts of those I love—however busy my mournful thought may be, my tongue is silent. I cannot name their names: it shocks me to hear them named. It seems like tearing open half-healed wounds and disturbing with harsh worldly noise, the sweet sleep of death.’”