28 August 2013
We had a very busy rest of the week. We finished our pedestrian survey in Compound 1, finished mapping and recording artifacts found through the results of pedestrian survey, and conducted magnetometer and ground-penetrating radar survey in compounds 1 and 4. We also hosted some guests at the site through the Trinidad History Museum. Thursday Aug 22 The first area where we conducted ground-penetrating radar was in the location where archival materials indicate there was an escape tunnel. We used a lower frequency antenna (270 MHz) than the previous week (400 MHz). Through the use of the lower frequency we lose resolution, meaning smaller objects do not show up in the radar profiles, but larger features or objects, such as changes in stratigraphy or large disturbances, like a tunnel, will still show up. The advantage to using the lower frequency is that the radar signal tends to go deeper into the ground before it attenuates or loses radar energy. This might be especially helpful out here, considering the amount of clay and water that might still be present after the previous weeks’ downpours. Clay and water tend to weaken the signal, so hopefully the lower frequency antenna was able to overcome this. The grid we set up for radar collection was 60 meters x 42 meters, with .5 meter transect spacing. We ended with 85 radar profiles 60 meters long. Unfortunately, working with ground-penetrating radar data is time consuming and results are usually not instantaneous. I am processing the data now and hope to have gain some good data from this. Results pending...
Friday August 23
We finished logging and collecting data from all of the artifacts that we located in compound 1. Every artifact was also photographed and mapped using a GPS just as we did in the American Compound and Compound 4. All together between the three different samples areas within each of the three compounds we surveyed, we collected data on close to 500 artifacts! We also conducted GPR and magnetometer in compound 4 just south of the lavatory. Previous researchers have indicated that this was an activity area for prisoners to wash their clothes. In addition to this area, we also conducted magnetometer in the large feature, possible garden, in compound 1. Preliminary data processing on the magnetometer data for the area just south of the lavatory indicated a magnetic spike in the center of our grid. Based on this data, I decided to open a 1 meter x 2 meter excavation unit.
Saturday August 24 - Public Day
The Trinidad History Museum hosted a public day at the site. It was exciting to see people interested in the work our crew was conducting at the site. I spent the majority of the day giving a tour of the site and talking about the research we have been doing at the former camp. Some of the crew began excavating the 1 x 2 that we set up based on the preliminary magnetometer data. We also began GPR in Compound 2 where Captain Ehrcke had indicated in his diary where there were volleyball courts. We set up a 60 meter x 40 meter grid. We started with the 400 MHz antenna and completed about a third of the grid. Sunday August 25 2013 Today was our last day at the site with a full crew. We finished GPR with the 400 MHz antenna in the possible location of the volleyball courts and then conducted the survey again with a 270 MHz antenna. We also finished excavating and back filled the 1 x 2 located in compound 4 just south of the lavatory. We also cleaned up most of the site and removed many of the pin flags and wooden stakes that we placed throughout the last week and a half. There are still some grids left to GPR and features to map and draw, but this work will not require a full crew. I will return over the course of the next several weeks to finish the work and wrap up clean up. Now it's time to process the geophysical data go through the artifacts. I will give updates as I go through all of this data.
21 August 2013
It has been a hot couple of days at the site to start the session. The crew has been drinking lots of water and have been very productive. I am fortunate to have such hard working and eager crew members. Yesterday we spent the day mapping in some of the landscape features in compound 4, both with GPS and graph paper. We spent most of our time around the officers' club and barrack just south of the mess halls. One reason for this was that a good percentage of the artifacts that we discovered during pedestrian survey seemed to be concentrated in this area. The officers' club is the only building we have encountered thus far that has front and rear doors. To the north there are three doorways, each adorned by a semi circle entryway garden on either side of the entrance leading to the walkway. The south of this building contains 4 doorways - the standard thus far, however, we were unable to readily locate any landscape modifications. The building to the north, listed by the camp assessors as officer barrack, is what appears to be a standard barrack with 4 entrances. Each of these entrance, but one, is adorned by rectangular entryway gardens. At one point the building may have been lined with trees on the south side, but the trees today are only present east of the easternmost entrance. The only landscape modification not rectangular is a circular feature to the west of the westernmost entrance. It's possible that each of the residents of this barrack may have designed their own garden.
18 August 2013
We leave Denver tomorrow morning to begin another round of fieldwork. Last week we ended by finishing pedestrian survey on the American Compound. I expanded the search area to include not only the American officers' quarters, but also the two lavatories to the north and the officer's club and mess hall to the south.
15 August 2013
We completed our pedestrian survey of the southeast part of compound 4 and are in the process of mapping the artifacts we found with GPS. In addition to the many artifacts, we have also located numerous gardens. It seems the officers that were living in the area that we are currently surveying took great care in beautifying the landscape. I thought, perhaps, that because this was a military setting the landscaping would have been uniform. This does not appear to be the case, because different barracks seem to have different styles. In some cases, the same barrack may even have different shaped gardens. This is further supported by the oral history I have received from a former German prisoner. He told me that some of the prisoners were into beautifying their surroundings, while others did not care as much. Some prisoners would compete with one another to see who could create better landscaping. We also began Ground-penetrating radar survey in and to the south of the barrack where a former prisoner marked where the escape tunnel was. Due to the amount of moisture and the amount of clay in the soil, the radar energy seemed to dissipate quickly. I may have to switch to a lower frequency antennae in order to gain a deeper depth. I will concentrate more efforts on GPR next week. Since our completion of pedestrian survey in one of the German officer's compound, we have moved the pedestrian survey to the American compound, specifically the American officer's club and barracks. Through examining both the American and German officers that lived in Camp Trinidad I hope to explore the dichotomy between the two groups. Was there trade taking place between the two groups? Were the German officers living in similar if not the exact same conditions as the American officers per the Geneva Conventions?
Tomorrow is our last day of fieldwork this week. I hope to finish the pedestrian survey in the American compound and the mapping and data collection of artifacts and features that we have already found in compound 4. The cows that use this land for grazing especially like the area we are working in, in compound 4, because some of the only trees in the surrounding area, which were planted by prisoners, are located here. They offer a nice break from the heat and some welcome shade. Unfortunately, they enjoy eating the survey flags! We will return to the field next week when I hope to employ more geophysical investigations, such as continued GPR work and magnetometer survey. Special thanks to my crew Lauren, Cyndal, Jeremy, and Kevin. Their efforts have been outstanding and have endured long days in both the hot and cold and have done it all for free! Thank you so much, you have made this first week a success.
13 August 2013
We started our pedestrian survey on our large 120 meter by 230 meter grid in the southeast of corner of compound 4. While at the site in January to do some reconnaissance and also the last couple of weeks to set up a site grid, I didn't see a lot of materials on the surface, other than architecture - such as nails, staples, and insulators. The heavy rain that has fallen this month may have helped, but walking at a slow pace with an intentional focus on the smallest artifact is time consuming, but also fruitful. You just have to be sure you are aware of your surroundings, cholla cactus can hurt! After we started the survey, we began to find many artifacts, including buttons, ceramics, bottles, glass jugs, and even modified artifacts. Unlike some television shows where people go to a location and dig up or collect artifacts, pain staking work is done before any artifacts are removed from the site. Before I began any work, I had to gain permission from the landowner. First we flag artifacts or concentrations of artifacts that we come across. Pink flags indicate artifacts of importance. Lime green indicate an artifact that has been visibly modified from the manufacturer's intended use. Yellow flags indicate features - these are objects that typically cannot be moved such as gardens or architecture. Once the artifacts have been flagged, we then go back and map them, anywhere from 5 - 30 cm accuracy, with a high powered GPS unit, where the artifact or feature was found. Then we photograph each artifact. Sometimes we'll also take measurements, especially with ceramics, to see if we can decipher the type of vessel the fragment once belonged to, because rarely will archaeologists find a complete vessel. If additional research is needed, we'll then bag up the artifact and note all the information that we have taken from the artifact thus far through photographs and multiple forms without even removing the artifact from the surface. Two days in and we have been able to identify some areas of activity. It appears that much of the activity that took place in this part of the camp was centered on the German officer's club, the mess hall, and theater. At first glance, some entrances to buildings, specifically under where the stairs would have been, contain a larger concentration of glass and ceramic than other areas. This might suggest an informal trash dump if the ceramic or glass was broken inside the building. There also appears to be an increased concentration of bottle caps along the perimeter fence to the south. This suggests that there may have been consumption taking place in this vicinity. The open area between mess halls also contain large amounts of glass such as jugs and American issued ceramics. Only a small fraction of what we have found has begun to be analyzed yet so keep checking back for updates!
8 August 2013
The last two weeks I've gone down with two different volunteers from the University of Denver to map in some of the remaining foundations in the southeast quadrant of compound 4. Many thanks to Paul Swader (DU graduate student) and Kevin Davis (DU undergraduate student) for their help and time. Most of the buildings that were on cement piers only have partial foundations remaining. Other foundations that were made of cement were bulldozed, which are cracked and out of place. We did our best to locate cement footings that indicate where the walls of the barracks and buildings might have been. Based on the archival research that I conducted earlier this year, I believe we have found the barrack that contained the escape tunnel. We have set up a grid to conduct ground-penetrating radar in this area in the coming weeks. We have also located many of the stone-lined walkways and former gardens at the site. There appears to be a good amount of Iris out here, which we found primarily within the stone-lined gardens. This is perhaps one type of flower that adorned the gardens when the camp was active. In addition to the GPR grid, we have also established a pedestrian survey grid. On August 12 we will begin pedestrian survey to find concentrations of artifacts and we hope to determine how much archaeological integrity is present at the site. Along with the southeast quadrant of compound 4 we also plan to survey a small portion of the eastern half of compound 2. Captain Heino Ehrcke, a former prisoner, lived here. He gave copies of pages from his journal that he kept while in camp to Marilyn Palovich, which she loaned to the Trinidad History Museum. These pages contain sketches of how his barrack was arranged and also details where he kept his garden. It also notes that there were volleyball courts, which are not found on any of the government maps, just to the north of his barrack. The eastern half of compound 1 was where the German enlisted men lived. In the January 1943 map of the compound, it shows enlisted men throughout compounds 1-3, while only compound 4 - a new addition - was for officers. By 1944 most of the camp was occupied by officers and only the eastern half of compound 1 was for enlisted men. We will set up a few survey grids here as well. In addition the the German prisoners, we will also study a small portion of the American officer's compound.
This portfolio last updated: 11-Jan-2017 6:54 AM