Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Catching up #3. Our dig has begun

Finally I get to the point that our own archeological dig has begun.  I know I know I have you on your seats waiting.  If you have not read post #1 and #2 then be sure to scroll past this and get caught up with the process. 

We have about six acres, live in a log kit home that is about thirty-five years olds.  It is not one of those fancy log houses. I tend to chuckle that I live in a cabin so dusty floors are only natural.  There is a space to the south of me that is large open space and I call it the pasture.  There was a fence before we moved here as well and the prior owners had horses.  Long ago I met a man in a nursing home who was telling me about his hog farm when he was a younger man.  He did not know where I lived and we came to understand that this space was part of his holding.  Much of the surrounding area has been river edge fishing cabins and in the roaring times there was a honky-tonk down here that was only accessible via the Kaskaskia River.  I thought we would find a something of interest but had no idea just how quickly we would hit pay dirt.

We did not use some scientific method to choose our area to dig. It was merely determined by the geographical location of the property.  I knew we could not dig in the back half or we would be bothered by the donkeys the entire time.  If I wanted the blessing of my husband it would require not being part of his yard that he enjoys.  I picked a spot to the far south of the front pasture and away from groves of trees so I did not hit tons of roots.  I chose a spot that is near a peach tree that struggled and finally died.
I went to great lengths to let the children know that it would be weeks before we find something, if we ever did.  Then, suddenly, only a few moments into the process we hit a rock.  Not some small rock but we were pulling up rocks quickly that were small and white.  They reminded me of landscaping rocks. Not sure why but the large rock was gently cleared away.  We kept going as they got all excited and below that rock was another rock. Wait!  It is not a rock. It is a stone and they belong together. The area next to the stone will not dig away. We head to the left of the first stone instead of the one that it was stacked upon and decide that there is another stone there and the dirt that will not dig between them is not dirt but some form of mortar.  We brush away the dirt from the bottom stone and see that is has been manipulated to have a grove of some sort. 

You see in this photo the stones as we begin to uncover them.


As if that was not exciting enough we also found treasures within the dirt.  At Cahokia Mounds the girls learned to look at the dirt. Observe for color changes that might indicate something other than dirt had been there.  The watched for color changes in the soil. 

While we did find one really cool thing to be revealed tomorrow when I can get the photo uploaded that is a cool archeological find we also found a colony of some sort.  There were various stages in the larvae stage.  We then found an adult beetle.  "COOL!"  Better than that. As they tore into the dirt that they dug up gently they also found it in a pupae stage.  This photo is from that find as well.  This dig is not just about finding the history of our soil but we explored the layers of soil and live we found within it.  Science along with history makes homeschooling extra spectacular. 

Here is the photo of our insect stages.

 The best part of this day was that we shared it with some new, old friends.  A new homeschooler was six days into the process. She was a girl in my Girl Scout Troop as a child and now has three of her own children.  I met her kiddos and they all played together and got to know each other.  We will continue this dig as the months go on. 

I never did get to the Bird Man Tablet today. Guess it will wait for our great find within the clay on the next entry.-

Monday, August 18, 2014

Catching up #2

Let me first say that I certainly attempted to get back on to work on the blog entry. I struggled a bit to get this silly blogger to upload my files.  I do not make my entries via my goggle+. I don't really head to the main page for that part of goggle either.  It seems that the only way to get the photos to load from my current storage to this blog is to sync more of my computer to the web itself.  It seems I am forced more and more into this automated system of collaborating programs to get what I want done. I fear one day, my dell wake up and be found sitting in this spot, demanding that I actually dust it out.

Back to our trip to Cahokia Mounds and the experience the archeological dig in our pasture:

Let me first share this photo with you.  It is of Grace and Faith with a 250 cake.  This is the 250 birthday of St. Louis and in commemoration there are 250 birthday cakes that are placed throughout the region, yes even in Illinois.  The cakes are made to represent a "point" of significance for STL. 
It goes unsaid to realize that Cahokia Mounds is indeed a significant point.  I am a bit saddened by the fact that they did not place one near some of the sites not far from here.  They went some wide distance but did little to acknowledge that without Kaskaskia, Illinois and the French forts, STL would not even have existed.  With that said here is the picture.

I have learned that it often takes a spark from another to kindle the fire. That is the case with the choice to do our own dig.  During our experience at Cahokia Mounds we participated in a FREE docent lead tour. It takes about one hour to take the tour. You walk some, stop and chat some, then move on to the next leg of the tour.  There was an elderly man that lead our tour.  I would like to say that the girls were perfect, attentive students that I was proud of but the fact of the matter is that they were children who find interest in the bugs and stones that they see more than what the man is talking about.  Well, that is at least what it looked like. UNTIL we began our journey home and the two start talking about the tour.  It was this elderly man, whom I am certain felt underappreciated at the moment that kindled their fire to know more not only about the Mississippian culture but about the process of archeology.  It was his words that helped them to find more interest in the displays within the building itself.  Had we not attended the tour then the experience at the top of Monk Mound would have been much different. 

Grace stood at the top of Monks Mound and looked out to find the structures he had spoken about to us.  I know he thought that she did not hear a word that he said but it was clear she had.  I of course know that Grace and spin on her toes and listen at the same time but the general public expects students who are use to sitting in a desk all day and afraid to fart.  So that brings me to the next part of our picture display.  He taught them about the Bird Man Tablet, about Woodhenge, and the chief that was buried at Mound 72.

Here are some photos to share with you from that follow up experience.  Stay tuned for the next posting as we go further into our own archeological dig experience.

Stock photo of Woodhenge from the Mounds web site

Faith asked me to dance around the pole at Woodhenge. This is the center pole. We danced together then I captured this fabulous photo of the experience.

Nearing the end of our day we are finally going to climb Monks Mound.  The girls stopped along the way to recall the information that our guide had shared.  Grace recalling a fact about how it got its name and Faith recalling why the first platform of the mound is higher on the left than the right.

This was the view that day of St. Louis.  It was a yellow air quality day in the city.

The girls drew their own versions of the Bird Man Tablet in the dust of the rock path on top of the mound.  They chuckled that perhaps somebody will think an Indian place it there. 

So there you have it.  More on the Bird Man Tablet and our own site very soon.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Catching up post #1

It has been forever since I made a post to the blog.  Not that I have not begun an entry.  I have been so darn busy that by the time I begin to type and think about what I want to post, I begin to let my eyes close and cannot complete an intelligent comment.

Knowing that there are only a few who read my blog I have used that as an ongoing excuse to stop.  Well, now our friend who live far away is not able to have much contact with us without the blog.  So read it if you want but don't expect a lot from me.  I will try to keep it interesting but most of all I want JR to get information and share some great school photos.

I cannot possible go back very far but think I may start with the most recent while it is fresh and then if I manage to catch up going backwards then great.  I do expect more happening as well since we begin our fifth year homeschooling.

This past week has been rather interesting.  We decided to do an archeological dig in our pasture.  This all came about at the request of Faith.  We experienced a wonderful day at Cahokia Mounds.  It has been several years since we had gone there.  The girls enjoyed it much more than I had anticipated.  They of course are older and more involved with their own education but we did the whole day there.  At the end of the day they both told me how much they enjoyed it.  Faith let me know that this was the best history field trip we have ever had. 

Faith went on to explain how wonderful it is that we were able to see "real" artifacts that "real" people handled in their every day life.  I have to agree with her.  Such an opportunity that is so close to home is wonderful.  Cahokia Mounds is considered a World Heritage Site which puts its amazing contribution like that of the Great Pyramids.  Thus came her request to dig up our yard. 

Before I share with you our archeological dig let me share some of our trip to Cahokia Mounds.
We began by watching the movie.  I will post more later as I seem to be having problems getting picture to upload without closing this site.  I promise to finish it within 24 hours.

Now that you watched the video, imagine if you will, that as the movie ends the screen raises and it reveals the inner museum display of daily life of the inhabitants of this city. It is really a wonderful experience.  You then exit to the display and take your time to go to each exhibit.  I am so pleased to see the girls taking the time to explore these displays and not just pass by them.  To me, it is a way to give respect to all the ancestors of this earth.  To actually stop, read, touch and ask. 

If you can ever get to this location I do suggest that you visit the Mounds.