Getting the Dirt on Reed

Students excavate on Reed's campus in search of its lost history.

December 21, 2023

Sifting through layers of soil in the Canyon, students aimed to learn more about earlier use of the land where Reed now sits. The students  were taking Prof. Alejandra Roche Recinos’s Anthropology 311 Archaeology of Reed this fall, where they were introduced to the hands-on work of archaeology: surveying, mapping, documentation, excavation, artifact identification, and artifact interpretation. 

It wasn’t all dirty work, however. The course focuses on familiarizing students with the important steps that happen before and after the dig, as well as the legal, ethical, and logistical requirements of fieldwork. They honed skills communicating with stakeholders and invested institutions.  

They visited the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Historic Preservation Society and the Oregon Historical Society and through this research they learned that the spot where they’d proposed to excavate had once been the site of a house that was demolished when Crystal Springs Farm was donated to Reed. “One of the inhabitants of the house was actually a Reed alum from the 1950s.” said Prof. Roche Recinos. “Our developing research questions focus on finding more out about this house, its inhabitants, and their relationship to Reed.”

The course will be offered again in the spring 2024 semester. This fall, their efforts yielded some gardening-related materials, construction materials, lots of plastic, and part of a squirrel jaw. 

 “All of this seems to date within the past 20 years, and we'll see what we recover next semester!” said Roche Recinos.

Tags: Academics, Cool Projects, Courses We’d Love To Take, Reed History