Hamline News

Digging Deeper Into Hamline History


Students, faculty, and neighborhood history bluffs are invited to participate in the unearthing of a 19th century homestead and old artifacts on Saturday, September 29.

That’s when the Hamline Village History Project and Department of Anthropology will hold its first “Open Dig” event behind West Hall, near parking lot E.   

So far this semester, students of the Excavating Hamline’s History class, taught by Archaeology Professor Brian Hoffman, have explored various sites around campus, including an area near Klas field, an old firehouse by Drew Fine Arts, and the old house site, which was built in the 1880s. This all done under the Hamline Village History Project.

“The Hamline Village History Project is an ongoing collaborative public history project focused on helping develop our neighborhood identity through a better understanding of local history.” said senior Wail Eltag, a student taking the class. “We are hoping that students can develop a better understanding of local history through direct participation in excavations.”

To prepare for the open dig, students mapped out the site to pinpoint exactly where the corner wall of this underground house is, which was first dug up by the 2013 excavation class. This year the class will be rediscovering this wall, but will dig further and excavate more artifacts to learn about Hamline’s history before Hamline.

In the past, objects such as ancient toothbrushes, dolls, and nails have been discovered on the site. This year they are hoping to uncover more secrets.

“We really try to focus on connecting everything to heritage.” said archeology and anthropology double major Kristina Remus. “Finding these objects with no context is meaningless, so we must think about the artifact in relation to when it was existing, who might have used it, and what life looked like during its time.”

During the pre-excavation process, Remus, after sifting through the soil, was the only student in the class to find an artifact. She uncovered an old nail, and just from examining that it was square and not round, they deduced that the nail was made before 1905.

“It is really rewarding to be reminded that there were things here before Hamline, because that’s so easy to forget.” mentioned Remus. “It’s also interesting that our class is comprised of many different majors, not just archeology or anthropology. So everyone finds their own role and our strengths balance out.”

The first Open Dig event was on September 29. The second one is scheduled Saturday, October 13. from 10 a.m. -- 2 p.m. and all are welcome to participate.