The Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) recently posted several reports for surveys funded by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment on its website. The recent posts include county surveys for Le Sueur and Lac qui Parle Counties, a report on radiocarbon dating in Minnesota and an overview of the Archaic in Minnesota.
The Le Sueur County archeological survey, undertaken by the Department of Anthropology at Minnesota State University Mankato, was completed in 2014. The project involved an extensive background literature review, a re-examination of existing collections both public and private and survey of more than 2000 acres of land. Fifty previously undocumented sites were found. The report can be found at this link: https://mn.gov/admin/assets/LeSueur%20Final%20Report%20V1-public-2%20web_tcm36-334427.pdf
A radiocarbon study was completed by PaleoResearch Institute in 2017. The report was to summarize what was known about absolute dating in Minnesota, to look at the reliability of the know dates and obtain additional dates from poorly dated contexts. Reference samples from fish collected in 1939 and 2015 along with wild rice harvested in 2015 were also dated. A review of the Minnesota state radiocarbon record yielded patterns worthy of note. In particular dates on charred food crusts from ceramics often appear too old, so until reliable a methodology for processing samples is developed it is recommended that food crusts not be dated. Dates on mammal bones from Minnesota also provide a too-ancient chronology. Often comparison with dates on short-lived terrestrial plant remains is impossible, as they are not present in the archaeological record. Charcoal appears to provide the most accurate chronology for Minnesota. Radiocarbon dates on animal bones in Minnesota are often the oldest obtained for individual sites, cultural complexes, or within geographic areas. At present, the reason for this discrepancy has not been researched and remains unexplained. It is recommend not dating additional archaeological bone until original radiocarbon research can be conducted on recent specimens to verify that land animals, as well as fish and ducks (and other birds living on the water or harvesting prey from the water) yield discrepant dates. To learn more follow this link: https://mn.gov/admin/assets/Dating%20Minnesotas%20Prehistory%20PRI%20FRE%20Study%202017%20final-web_tcm36-334425.pdf
The Lac qui Parle County survey was completed in 2017. The project was conducted by the Archeology Laboratory at Augustana University. The survey investigated 4,500 acres of land and documented 46 previously unrecorded sites. In addition limited excavations were undertaken at site 21LP0011, located on Big Stone National Wildlife refuge. Previous work at the site had recovered a fluted point base and multiple overshot flakes suggestive of an early Paleoindian presence at the site. The units produced 251 lithic artifacts; the majority consisting of debitage. The report is found at this link: https://mn.gov/admin/assets/Lac%20Qui%20Parle%20Public%20Report%20Final%20web_tcm36-334426.pdf
‘Minnesota’s Archaic Tradition: An Archeological and Paleoenvironmental Overview and Assessment’ presents the results of a review of archaeological and environmental literature, the organization of a symposium focusing on local and regional Archaic topics, an evaluation of the utility of Minnesota’s current division of Archaic tradition historic contexts and a synthesis of the investigation results. Recommendations are made for future study. The report summarizes what we currently know about the Archaic in Minnesota and takes a critical look at how we interpret that period. For the avocational archaeologists there are well illustrated overviews of the artifacts and excavations at most of the major Archaic site excavations in the state. Follow this link to read more: https://mn.gov/admin/assets/MN%20Archaic%20Final-web_tcm36-334428.pdf
The Swift County archaeological survey which had been previously posted on the OSA site and inadvertently removed was also reposted for those who have not yet had the chance to review the report. The Swift County report can be found here: https://mn.gov/admin/assets/SWIFT%20CO%20SURVEYREPORT%201_31_11-public_tcm36-334429.pdf