Lake Superior Basin Workshop

The Lake Superior Basin Workshop will be held this Friday and Saturday, March 18th and 19th at the Northwest Company Fur Post near Pine City, Minnesota.   The workshop is a rather informal gathering of archaeologists, avocational archaeologists, collectors, and the general public with lots of hands on opportunities to view artifacts and hear about ongoing projects.  Something of a last hurrah before the field season begins, the focus has traditionally been the archaeology of the Lake Superior Basin with archaeologists from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Canada in attendance.  It has gradually expanded to include any regional topic and has facilitated collaboration between archaeologists from different states and countries.  Continue reading “Lake Superior Basin Workshop”

Upcoming Classical Archeology Lecture

If you are looking for something to take your mind of the snow and cold on Thursday evening check this out.  The Minnesota Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) will be hosting a lecture by Nancy Wilkie titled, Archaeology in Sri Lanka: Challenges and Prospects for the Future on Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 6pm in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center at Macalester College.  Nancy C. Wilkie is the William H. Laird Professor of Classics, Anthropology and the Liberal Arts at Carleton College in Northfield. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Greek from the University of Minnesota, and her B.A. in Classics from Stanford University. Her areas of specialization are prehistoric Greece, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, and cultural property issues.  The lecture is open to the public.

Archaeology on Almanac @ the Capitol






Last night, Wednesday, February 9, 2011, TPT’s Almanac @ the Capitol featured a segment on the archaeological excavations at the historic Agate Bay townsite which is located near Two Harbors, Minnesota.  They speak with State Archaeologist Scott Anfinson and Minnesota Historical Society archaeologist Tim Tumberg who is in charge of the project.  The feature is near the end of the episode.  To view this episode click on this link.

CMA Spring Conference

The Program and Abstracts for the CMA conference coming up in February were just released.  The conference is an even mix of papers on prehistoric and historic subjects (eighteen of each).  The two day event will be held at Inver Hills Community College, Friday, February 18th and Saturday the 19th.  No preregistration is required to attend the conference.  It will be a long holiday weekend for some and an excuse to bring your family and spend the rest of the long weekend exploring the Twin Cities.

Winter Fieldwork

 Every Midwestern archaeologist has a story about doing winter fieldwork, weather it is having falling snow cover the ground while trying to do surface reconnaissance or soil freezing in the screen and numb fingers.  (On the plus side mosquitoes and snakes are not an issue.)  It used to be that archaeological survey stopped when the ground froze or snow covered the ground.   But now days, with construction continuing year round or with the necessity of meeting regulatory requirements before early spring construction it seems there are occasions when winter survey becomes necessary.  

Continue reading “Winter Fieldwork”

Winter Archaeology

This time of year archaeology in Minnesota moves indoors.  There are still a few projects where the clients need something done and are willing to pay a premium to have the archaeologists thaw the ground to do the testing, but for the most part, the field season is over.  (Look for a future post on doing archaeology in the snow.)   Most archaeologists have started the processing and analysis of artifacts recovered this past field season and writing up reports for completed projects. 

To get an idea of what happens at an archaeology lab check out Brian Hoffman’s blog.  Brian teaches at Hamline University in St. Paul and his main focus is Arctic archaeology.  But Brian and his students have also been doing some excavations on a historic site near the Hamline campus.  His blog “Old Dirt – New Thoughts” details what has been happening there at the Hamline lab.  You might also want to check out his entries about doing excavation at the  Aniakchak Bay Village (SUT-027) on the Alaskan Peninsula.

Latest Legacy Amendment Projects

This week (December 9th) was the deadline for proposals for two new projects funded by the legacy amendment.  The first is an investigation of the earliest human occupation of Minnesota.  The project is to summarize what is known about Minnesota’s earliest sites, to build a statewide model of where the earliest sites should be located, and to test that model in the southwestern corner of Minnesota (SHPO Region 1) through a focused but limited field survey designed to find and evaluate the research potential of early sites.  The second RFP concerns investigating unrecorded historic cemeteries in Minnesota.  Its purpose is to summarize what is known about unrecorded historic cemeteries, to update the State Archaeologist’s files with regard to such cemeteries, and to conduct limited field work to determine the status of unrecorded cemeteries in a few selected counties.

This week’s State Register (December 6) also included another request for proposals, this time to determine the Age of Brainerd Ceramics in Minnesota.  The purpose is to determine how early Brainerd Ceramics appear, how late they survive, and the effect of carbonate contamination on dating charred food residues on prehistoric ceramics in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Archaeologist

 The latest issue of The Minnesota Archaeologist (Vol 68, 2009) has just been published and is available from the Minnesota Archaeological Society.  The journal should be mailed the week of November 15th and be to most subscribers by Thanksgiving.  This issue focuses on Northern Minnesota archaeology, with an interesting mix of both pre-contact and contact era subjects.  There are a several articles on Northern Minnesota lithics and copper and an overview of northern pottery types.  Trade period subjects include guns, axes and silver with good papers on each.  Discussions about shipwrecks in Lake Superior and Hamline University’s archaeological work in Alaska wrap up the issue.  I’ve included the table of contents from the issue for your review.

Obsidian at Lake Vermilion State Park


Finding obsidian artifacts in Minnesota always excites archaeologists, since without any nearby source of the material, it provides clear evidence of long distance travel or exchange.  (Much of the obsidian found in Minnesota has been sourced to Obsidian Cliff in Yellowstone National Park.)  In a presentation on Nov. 9th, Dave Radford, DNR Parks archaeologist, announced that recent survey excavations at the new Lake Vermilion State Park have recovered the largest number of obsidian flakes ever found on an archaeological  site in Minnesota, about 150 flakes.  This is equal to the total number of obsidian flakes previously recovered at all the archaeological sites in the state and is the most ever found at a single site, however it should be noted that the majority of the flakes are very small. 

Continue reading “Obsidian at Lake Vermilion State Park”