Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Davenports in England, 5-28 update!

The journey of this research is taking two basic routes. First through the sciences, we expect to make discoveries about landscape learning, technology transfer, adaptation, and creativity. At the same time, we are telling the story of the Davenports, their immigration, and the lives they built in their Utah community. A deeply humanistic story, adding to the great pastiche of the human experience.

Key to both these areas of research is knowing the how the Davenports' story started in Brampton, England. This information matters because the scientists and engineers won't necessarily recognize how the Davenports adapted if we don't understand what they knew about potting before they left England. Nor can we understand the world the Davenports lived in and the choices they made in their lives if we don't understand where their story began.

I am very lucky to have found Anne-Marie Knowles during this past year. She is a curator at the Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery in Northern Derbyshire, England. She has been researching the Davenports in England. After considerable effort, she believes she has really nailed down where the Davenports lived. By studying the 1841 census and comparing the Davenports neighbors with other records, she is pretty certain that they lived in what is now called 'Stone Row.' The name derives from a row of stone cottages that were incorporated into shops that now face on the Chatsworth Road in Brampton. The building in which they lived is now part of a store very near the site of the Welshpool & Payne pottery owned by Matthew Knowles. This is really exciting, because it means that the picture she sent me shows the workroom in that shop, perhaps the very wheels at which Thomas and Sarah worked.

Their house was probably a cottage, but it may have had adjoining structures and looked a great deal like one of these two photos of nearby places. Keep in mind when viewing these pictures that Brampton was a small country town in the 1840s with a few factories and small communities. The buildings would have been in much better condition just after being built:

More that just that, Ms. Knowles thinks that Thomas Davenport probably worked as a thrower, and not just as a laborer in the factory. I wrote before about how the census identified Thomas as a "Pot M." We speculated that it could mean maker or manager. Ms. Knowles thinks that because the same census worker also listed "Pot Lab," meaning laborer, and "Pot Burner," referring to kiln workers, it stands to reason that "Pot M" meant "pot maker."

Since nineteenth century pottery making was a technological system, not just a series of skills or techniques, the Davenports jobs confirm the basis for all of my hypotheses and justifications for the archaeological study. These individuals had no experience building or burning kilns, making glazes, or finding and processing raw clay. Even masterful skills at a process like throwing on the wheel does not assure someone success when every other part of the technical system has changed.

If our luck continues with our discoveries, I'll have much more to say on this subject!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Please help support our research

After some conversations with visitors to the site over this holiday weekend, I realized that I needed to explain our project's funding and the urgent need for support.  This is a public archaeology project. The research is dependent upon tax-deducible gifts from private individuals who discover our work and decide that what we are doing is important and should continue.

Many people seem to be under the impression that a patron or foundation is sponsoring our work at the Davenport Pottery Site in Parowan, Utah.  To be blunt, people think we have a sugar daddy.  This is not true and it is important that people understand how this project came into being- archaeology research doesn't "just happen."

I have cobbled together enough support to run the field school.  Several partners or patrons are helping, mostly through in-kind donations of logistical support.  I thought I would give readers an idea of what it takes to make a field school happen:

The Iron Mission State Park Museum is making most of our photocopies and letting us bring the students there for lectures.  In addition Todd Prince, the park director, and Ryan Paul, the curator, have both given guest lectures or led field trips, teaching the students about Iron County prehistory and history.  Todd has extensive experience in Utah prehistory and stands ready to help us with the consultation process if we discover any prehistoric remains.

The City of Parowan and The Dixie National Forest worked together to get us a waiver so we could camp in the Five Mile Picnic Area at no cost.  The camp or hotel fees are a big part of field work expenses, so this support was critical.  Parowan City staff have also been very helpful because they found us a secure storage location, give us access to potable water, help with equipment for specific field needs, and are keeping up the campground.

The archaeology faculty and staff at Southern Utah University's Archaeological Repository lent us a bunch of equipment for our field camp, including some extra tents, cooking gear, and potable water tanks.  I am in debt to both Barbara Frank and Emily Dean for their help.

Utah State Parks will lend us some equipment and help with back filling and earth moving.

The Matheson family have given us permission to work on their land and promised to donate the artifact collection to the state.

Michigan Technological University awarded me a small grant that will cover about 1/2 of the vehicle costs from the motor pool.  The Department of Social Sciences is also supporting some of the students during their time here, through small scholarships or hourly pay, and helped cover some of Chuck Young's travel costs to come out and bring the geophysics equipment. Chuck paid the balance out of his pocket.  The department also let me teach the field school class, despite the fact that enrollment was well below the cut-off point that makes a class viable.

The Register of Professional Archaeologists also provided a scholarship award to the project. This helped students to enroll who might not have otherwise been able to afford to attend.

The Utah Humanities Council awarded State Parks a small grant to help us tie the exhibit and the excavation together in some public programs.

That is how we made the field school happen.

The analysis and write up of this excavation and the ongoing research are separate issues.  We will return to our lab at MTU with tens of thousands of artifacts to analyze and research to complete.  Without any donations or support, I will spend the next ten years studying the collection and writing a manuscript, working on occasional Sundays and during future months of August.  I will not return to the field in Utah again until that is finished.  It would be unethical for me to collect more excavation data without reporting on what we'd already gathered.

With your gifts of support, however, we could finish the analysis in a year, help the Iron Mission Museum design their replica exhibit of the Davenport Pottery for the Ironworks Homestead, and set up another study in Parowan or another pottery site.  The key to making this happen is gifts in support of student scholarships and analysis.  As you read in the list above, lots of organizations can give in-kind and logistical support. None of the organizations with which I've partnered can support students working in the lab.  We are looking for partners to join us in our research effort by supporting students and other direct costs.  The partners could be communities, businesses, or private patrons who wish to ensure that the archaeological study of Utah's historic-era pottery heritage continues before more of the sites are destroyed.

The way that the Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program at Michigan Tech operates, we find sponsors that support our students while the faculty donate our time to various research projects.  We collaborate in this way.  I don't get paid out of donations from the public-- the university already pays me to teach students and do research, so I don't need money for my salary.  We use your donations to support graduate and undergraduate students and direct research costs (gas for the truck and van, Neutron Activation Analysis and other archaeometry, etc.)

Here are some things for which I need immediate support:

If I can find support for Jessica Montcalm, she can work on this project full time as her MS thesis, instead of waiting on tables or holding another part time job while finishing her studies- M.S. student tuition waiver, 2009-10-  $12,000

To get the lab work going, we need funds to support undergraduates working in the lab.  They help Jessica and me with the cleaning, cataloging, refitting studies (pottery jigsaw puzzles), and other analyses-  Undergraduate student lab staff- $5,000

Vehicles cost us money when we take them from the Motor Pool.  Right now, I am on the hook for gas and rental costs- $1,500 

The science costs money.  Neutron Activation Analysis, analysis of animal bones, charcoal identification, LA-ICP-MS all cost about $20, $50, or $100 per sample- Scientific testing:- $2,000

Every little gift helps!  Your gift of $20 lets me buy one scientific test.  For example, I might be able to compare the chemistry of Thomas Davenport's raw clay and his finished products, or study the charcoal to determine what type of fuel burned to heat the kiln.  

Gifts at any level are tax deductible.

Donations can be made to a special account at the Michigan Tech Fund by clicking here. Individuals who wish to give money to organizations in Utah can make donations by sending checks to the Iron Mission Museum Foundation (Davenport Pottery Project), 585 North Main, Cedar City, Utah 84720-1079.

I offer my deepest thanks our past supporters, including the students who invested their time and finances in the research.

Math problem, Part 2

Several people sent me comments about my math word problem.  In the original post, I asked people how to calculate the diameter of a circle when I only had a chord.  I set up the word problem with this diagram of the kiln wall:

We thought about the problem a bit, but couldn't recall any formulas for a circle that didn't require one to know the radius, diameter, or circumference as terms of the equation.  I did remember that the solution involved making two right triangles along the arc.  While eating my peanut butter sandwich, I decided that I could use the two right triangles to get a quick and dirty solution.  I knew I could draw the two triangles at scale and cut them out.  Then I could use a set of circles drawn at the same scale and slide the triangles over the concentric circles until I found the best fit.  This sort of the way we calculate the rim diameters of ceramic fragments.

We all knew that our math friends would remember the equations, however.

Pete and Mark Dice phoned in an answer.  Pete promised to send me his figures by email.

C. Crosse commented on the blog.  She said, "Given that c is a straight line between two points on the circumference of a circle--X and Z--which is called the cord, the curved line would be called arc XZ. Assuming you know c (not XZ) and m--the height of the arc created by the chord--then the formula would be:
r = (m² + ¼c²)/2m
Pete Foss made a comment on the project Facebook page:
"I found a circle calculator here: 
that says your kiln was 1.88 meters in radius. 12 feet in diameter."

He added, "Hooray for Google!"  

Indeed.  The page that Pete sent includes a useful illustration:

I'd still like to hear from one of my friends that are math teachers! We have marked out a circle of 12 feet on the ground surface. As we excavate more of the kiln, we will be able to get more accurate measurements.  Family oral history said that the kilns were "about 14 feet across" and that there may be three or four of them all in the back yard.  We'll see what we find out. 

May 28, 2009- update.

I have heard from my friend Kristin Z. Cook, who teaches math at a high school in Milwaukee. She ran the numbers and said: "I am assuming the perpendicular segment you drew bisects the 1.8-meter segment.  If that is the case, then I calculated the radius to be approximately 1.8759 m, the diameter to be 3.7517 m, and the circumference to be 11.7864 m."  She promised to scan and email me her a page that showed her work.  She is a math teacher, after all!

My colleague Steve Walton also worked up a solution, but not to be outdone by others, he formatted a diagram and included it in his email:

So there is pretty wide agreement that the kiln is between 12 and 12.5 feet in diameter.  Pretty close to the 14 feet diameter recorded in oral histories and given the inaccuracies of our measurements, we need to leave a little wiggle room in our conclusions.

If you are curious, here is how I figured out my estimate.  I drew copies of sets of right triangles using a scale.  The right triangles split the chord evenly in half.  I new that I could make a second set of overlapping triangles on a second overlapping chord, then line up both sets on a scale drawing.  If I projected their short side as in the drawing below, I knew they would intersect in the middle of the circle and allow me to measure the radius!  I always liked geometry proofs more than algebraic ones....

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kiln pics

We have dug about as far as we can on the kiln. Before we go any further, we must open up another unit to expose more foundation surface.

In these photos, you are seeing the kiln floor. Beneath the floor, on which pottery sat during firing, there is a system of arched or vaulted flues moving hot air as well as fire boxes where the Davenports could add wood or coal.

We will see.

I promise to write more about the other units soon.

Mobile blog post

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Digging after the rain.

We are back at work after an evening of record-setting rain.  We had to quit a bit early yesterday as some thunderstorm cells moved over Parowan.  Most of the crew went up to camp at about 3:45 as the storm blew in.  Jessica, Guy and I stayed behind to wait out the rain with our volunteers.  Kirk, Ester, and India Henrichsen came down to work with us yesterday and their work went beyond the call of duty when they shoveled and screened through the rain.

This morning is beautiful, as shown by this picture of Frank at the screen.  The only camp problem brought on by the rain overnight concerned poor Renée, who cheerfully announced to the rest of us that she now has a waterbed in her tent.

Renée and Samantha are finishing their drawing of the kiln, now fully exposed and cleaned up in their unit:
Yesterday while everyone was digging, I spent some more time with Chuck Young's magnetometer maps.  I scaled his maps and plotted Renée and Sam's discovery on top of it. In my drawing, the black box represents their 2x2 meter excavation unit.  The white circle represents a general guess about the kiln size.  The point of my efforts was to try and figure out how well the geophysical map captured what we have found in the ground.  This type of effort is generally called "ground truthing" in remote sensing:

As you can see, I think we have a remarkable match between the image and the discoveries.  Keep in mind that the red and blue colors are the opposite poles of a magnetic field (the north and south).  If you were in school and even did the experiment where you shake iron filings onto a piece of paper with a magnet underneath, you can imagine the blue and red as the two different sides of the magnetic field that become visible in the filings.

Chuck Young is still working on the data, refining his initial map that I used above.  He has sent me a draft of the new map, which I rescaled and drew upon.  You can see the magnetic field of what is probably a second kiln just north (below) of the current kiln on the plot below:
So my current theory is that there are two kilns, side by side on the north-south axis here, each with blue-red poles.  In order to find out if the map really shows the location of another kiln, we put in units to the north of Renée and Samantha.  Pictured here:
The Henrichsens helped us shovel-scrape the plowzone yesterday during the rain.  Michael is working in these units now and he will start excavating 1/2 of these three 2/2 meter units.  We hope that he will come across the top of the second kiln.

I'll try to write more later today about the other excavation units.  

We enjoyed a BBQ last night as Parowan residents kicked off the holiday weekend.  Everyone back in the Midwest will be glad to know that the cook prepared some excellent brats along with lots of other delicious food.  The students were grateful to be graciously hosted for such a terrific dinner.  I hope that everyone from dinner comes out to the site soon so they can see what we are doing in the heart of their town!

We are in the process of signing up the students so that they can write entries for the blog.  Hopefully we'll have that set up before the holiday is over.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rainy afternoon

We're having a bit of rain on the dig this afternoon.

Mobile blog post

Friday, May 22, 2009

We were right...

It is definitely the first pottery kiln.  A major discovery, since this is the first English style kiln excavated by archaeologists from the country between Denver and the Pacific coast of California.  Maybe even as far east as Tennessee, Minnesota, or Kentucky.

Renée and Samantha are still working to expose the arc of brick:
Sam is happy to be cleaning the sidewalls in preparation for a photo!

We spent lunch talking about how to calculate the diameter of a circle when you can only measure a chord along the arc.  This is a particular question for the mathletes out there.  I've worked out a solution in the tradition of pragmatic field archaeology, but if somebody thinks they can be more accurate, let me know!

The chord is 1.80 meters long measured from the outside edge.  Making a 90° angle and measuring at 0.90 meter gives a triangle side that measures 0.23 meter.  A real world word problem!
email or post your solution!  Show your work for partial credit...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Major discovery?

Renée and Samantha may have just made a major discovery! Are these bricks the very top edge of a round pottery kiln wall?

We are about to break for lunch, but we'll know more by the end of the day! Stay Tuned!

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Preservation and Stimulus

Today is our last work day before the students and team members get a three day holiday break to do their wash, rest from our hard work, and explore some more of beautiful southern Utah.  I will post a summary of the week's discoveries later today.

Someone emailed me today with some questions about preservation, archaeology, and economic development.  I have been talking to many people about how public archaeology can be an ally of economic development.  Here in Utah and most western states, archaeology and cultural resource management are often seen as obstructions to development.  While I don't expect that archaeologists and developers will agree on everything all the time, I believe  strongly that archaeology can be a key ally to economic development.  I've written about this before.

Today, the Society for Historical Archaeology and other similar organizations are making the case for historic preservation as part of economic stimulus funds. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has posted a set of articles that show the benefits that preservation have for economic development and growth.  You can find the links to these studies here.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation is collating information from many professional societies and organizations.  You can find it all organized here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Photo update

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Quality Pics, Field School Dig, Week 1

I had a chance this morning during work to download the first round of photos from the dig camera.  I thought I would post a few pics here of a higher quality than those I've taken with my iPhone camera.  I love my iPhone, but it isn't as cool as our Nikon!

Learning to feel sand, silt, and clay, or even clayey loam:

Pictures of Grid 42 South, 18 West.
First, the opening shot:
Then after the first level was removed, leaving a suspicious pile of stone in setu and exposing level 2- a much redder sediment.
After working in level 2 for a little bit, exposing a foundation for a light wooden framed building:

Some pics of people doing geophysics with Chuck Young and other dig related tasks:

A very big thanks to Chuck Young and to the Social Sciences department at MTU for sponsoring Chuck's trip out to help us with the remote sensing survey!

NPR Story, Part 3

The KUER Newsroom has fixed the link to the radio story about our project!  You can now listen to the story here:

Thanks to the people at KUER for their efforts to fix the problem!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Camp Life, Day 6

We have all pretty much settled into our field camp.  Several parents have asked me to post the address where they can send mail:
Addressee Name
General Delivery
Michigan Tech Archaeology 
Parowan, UT 84761

The camp is beautiful and although I could see my breath this morning while I was making my coffee, I enjoy the early morning hours.  I wake up with a pair of woodpeckers who start searching for bugs at about 6 am.  

Some of the students have grouped their tents together, while others are spread further apart.  We also have a kitchen area with a large table and good fire ring.  After warm day on the dig, everybody has a hot shower and shares dinner.  About twice per week, we have discussions or lab time in the evenings.

I rigged up a shower for the students, using some gear borrowed from Southern Utah University's archaeology lab, a large tarp, and some ropes. The students realized that they need to add cold water to their solar shower bags before using them each evening, just as I had promised to Michigan undergraduates skeptical of the camp technology.  Two pictures of our shower are below. 
The sun breaks on the Vermillion Cliffs just as we come down in the morning on our way to the site!

We hope to finish excavating the plow zone tomorrow and begin working in nineteenth century deposits.  Stay tuned!

Topsoil and Plowzone

Today is our second day excavating at the Davenport Pottery Site in Parowan, Utah.  Guided by the magnetometer survey and a surface survey, we have begun a two meter wide excavation trench across what we believe to be the kiln area.  We are excavating the trench in two meter squares.  You can see a picture of them here:
My field assistant Jessica Montcalm is the person leaning out of the picture (so she thought!)

Mike and Frank are working in the western-most unit, on the edge of the plowed field and have the first indication of architectural rubble.
Two meters east are Renée and Samantha.  They are working through the center of the hotspot in the magnetometry map.

We set up datum points by each excavation unit, so they can compare the depth at which soil, features, and artifacts appear in all the different units.  The sediment levels in the field seem to be very level.

We are already starting to find clues about production.    This little ceramic sphere seems to be a little bit of kiln furniture.  It was flattened just a bit on the top and bottom and the glaze ran onto one end during the firing.
Many people from town have come and see us at the site, but nobody is as happy as the robins that live in the trees and bushes next door.  They are thrilled that we're digging and mixing up the leaf and grass mulch dumped in the field.  As each team leaves their unit to go to the screens and process their dirt, the robins swoop in and eat all the grubs and worms they can find in the dig unit!  Then they fly away and wait for more digging to reveal more goodies.  You can just see one in the picture below.  I'll try to get a better picture with the digital camera.

This afternoon we broke early and packed up from the site.  We went down to Cedar City to the Iron Mission State Park Museum, where Todd Prince spoke to us about Utah prehistory.  Todd is the Park Manager at the Iron Mission State Park and an archaeologist with years of experience studying Utah's prehistory.  After talking with Todd and seeing the replica wiki ups on the museum grounds, we drove out to study the famous petroglyphs at the Parowan Gap.  You can see some photos and read a discussion about the archaeoastronomy at the site here:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Project in the News- NPR Story

This morning, KUER 90.1, Utah Public Radio, did a wonderful story about the Utah Pottery Project, the Davenport family, and public archaeology.  Jennifer Napier-Pearce spoke with some of the people involved in the exhibit and archaeology project.  

I hope lots of people will come to see the exhibit before it closes at the end of July.  I also hope people will come to visit us during the fieldwork.  Unlike so many archaeology digs, this one is right in downtown Parowan across the street from the Old Rock Church Museum and just about 15 minutes from Cedar City and the exhibit at the Iron Mission State Park Museum.

As I wrote once before, this is a public archaeology project.  No federal or state regulations force people to participate.  The people who help with the project do so because they care about the history of Utah's clay artisans, contributing either as researchers, as landowners, or as donors and patrons supporting field and lab work and student research.

The Davenport Pottery Site in Parowan is an excellent example of the collaborations.  After a decade preparing for this dig, we'll study the site to develop a detailed understanding of how the Davenports built their kilns, prepared their clays, formed their wares, and so on.  With the newly discovered information, we will design an operating replica of the pottery shop that can be built at the Iron Mission State Park Museum to tell the one of the stories of Iron County's industries during the nineteenth century.

Our work relies upon the tax-deductible support of individuals who care about the Utah's history and heritage.  We need donations right now to support lab analyses, supporting student researchers in their contributions to the study.  Donations can be made to either the Iron Mission State Park Museum Foundation or on-line to the Michigan Tech Fund, into an account designated for the Utah Pottery Project.  Click here to make a gift:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Geophysics and Family History

Here are the results of today's magnetometry survey!  

In 2000, I interviewed Mrs. Carol Wright in Parowan.  Mrs. Wright is Thomas and Sarah Davenport's granddaughter.  She was born in 1908, which means she is 100 years old this year. Thomas Davenport died in 1888, twenty years before she was born.  Her father had worked in the pottery as a youngster, however, and she remembered the general description of the property even though the old adobe home and workshop buildings had been torn down before she was born.  

Below you can make a side-by-side comparison between the sketch I made with Mrs. Wright and the map of magnetic anomalies.  

I marked areas of interest to our excavation on the magnetic image below:

Based upon the magnetic anomalies, we think the basic description of the kilns' location and sizes are pretty accurate.  Family histories say that they were "about fourteen feet across."  There were several, perhaps three or four lined up in the back.  We are going to locate our excavation trench to expose one side of the kilns.  We'll leave the other side for future archaeologists, since they will certainly be better scientists than we are today.

We have begun surface collections of the site, grid by grid.  I expect we will start excavations on Friday.

Stay tuned!

Grids and gear!

We are underway in Parowan! The students all arrived by Sunday and we set up camp at the Five Mile Picnic Area. On the site this week, we set up the grid that will allow us to collect X, Y, and Z coordinates on all the data we gather during the dig.

Chuck Young is visiting with us today. He is a retired geophysicist at Michigan Tech. The Social Science department helped send Dr Young out to survey the site with us and teach the students about the Magnetometer.

The reason I asked Dr. Young to bring the Magnetometer is that we hope to see below the ground surface before we start excavation. We only have six weeks to dig. We really need to focus on the pottery-related features like the kilns. The magnetometer reads localized variations in magnetic fields as things interfere with the pattern of the earth's general one. Things like campfires burned in clayey dirt develop very strong magnetic anomalies. Something like a pottery kiln foundation should show up very clearly like a bright spot on the mapped readings.

At least, we expect so.

We are talking data right now and I will post a map of the readings later today!

The team on one of our first field trips. This one was about Iron County history.  They are climbing on an electric shovel from one of the twentieth century iron mines on the west side of the valley.

One picture of field camp!

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