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
Just a reminder for those of you planning to attend the Minnesota Archaeological Society annual meeting and dinner Friday April 20, 2018 that you need to RSVP by April 12, that’s this Thursday. Dr. Michael Michlovic will be the after dinner speaker presenting “The Archaic and Its problems for Minnesota Archaeology”. You do not have to be a member to attend. Here is a link to the flyer with the pertinent information. http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/2018-MAS-Dinner-Flyer.pdf
On Monday, March 12, as part of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society’s ‘Tapping History’ series the folks from Maritime Heritage Minnesota (MHM) will give a presentation on Lake Minnetonka nautical archaeology and maritime history at the Excelsior Brewing Company (421 Third Street, Excelsior, MN). MHM has been conducting studies in Lake Minnetonka to identify, document, preserve, and conserve wrecks and other submerged cultural resources on the lake bottom. The presentation starts at 7:00 pm with doors opening at 6 pm, with limited seating, first come first served.
A preliminary schedule for the lithic materials workshop has been created. There may be minor adjustments, but the dates and starting times should not change. The event starts at 1 pm on Friday March 2 goes to 5 pm and then opens again at 9 am on Saturday morning. Follow this link to the preliminary schedule and check back for any updates or changes. http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Lithic-Workshop-Schedule.pdf
The 2018 Lithic Material Workshop will be held Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3, 2018 at the Historic Fort Snelling Visitor Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. It will be a free two day event including the opportunity to present posters and/or papers on the subject of lithic materials and identification. The workshop is meant to be a relatively informal gathering with plenty of time for professional and avocational archaeologists to visit and share lithic samples and artifacts. The event is open to all interested individuals. Add it to your calendar. This link will take you to an initial announcement and call for papers and posters and contact information: http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Announcement-call-for-papers.pdf
The Minnesota Archaeological Society (MAS) has put out a Call for nominations for the Hill – Lewis Award which recognizes excellence in avocational archaeology.
The Hill – Lewis Award, which was originally instituted by the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology, is given annually to a living avocational archaeologist who has made outstanding contributions to Minnesota archaeology. The Minnesota Archaeological Society is now seeking nominations for the 2018 Hill – Lewis Award. Please forward your nomination to Dan Wendt, MAS President at Wendt001@gmail.com. The 2018 submission deadline is February 1st.
Nominees for the award should have made important contributions to our knowledge of Minnesota archaeology (prehistoric or historic) through original research or publication, collaboration with professional archaeologists, public outreach, or exceptional K – 12 teaching.
Note that nominees do not have to be members of the Minnesota Archaeological Society.
Nominators should submit a nomination letter detailing the nominee and their accomplishments, as well as at least one letter of support for the nomination. The Hill – Lewis Award will be awarded at the Minnesota Archaeological Society Annual Meeting in April.
The Hill – Lewis Award epitomizes the MAS goals of increasing public involvement in archaeology and in promoting the stewardship of the unique and irreplaceable archaeological record of Minnesota.
I recently received notification of two Requests for Proposals for artifact analyses related to Fort Snelling (21HE0099) and the surrounding area. These are funded by an Underrepresented Communities Grant from the National Park Service (federal Historic Preservation Fund), and are part of a larger project to update the National Register of Historic Places documentation for the Fort Snelling Historic District.
One project is for analysis of Precontact artifacts in the curated collections from Fort Snelling and Mendota. The other is for an assessment of the historical archaeology of African American presence and slavery at Fort Snelling.
There is a tight timeframe for the projects. Proposals are due (by email) on Nov 20. The projects must be complete by the end of February, 2018. Both are relatively small projects. The work would need to be conducted at the Minnesota Historical Society, probably at the Fort Snelling History Center. Here is the link for the Precontact RFP: http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Fort-Snelling-Precontact-Archaeology-RFP.pdf and here is the link for the assessment of African American presence and slavery RFP: http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Fort-Snelling-African-American-Archaeology-RFP.pdf
On Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 1 pm at the Pope County Museum in Glenwood, Minnesota, archaeologists working on the Pope County Archaeological Survey will talk about their current survey project, present preliminary results, and outline future plans. The presentation entitled “Archaeology of Pope County Presentation and Artifact Identification” will be presented by archaeologists from Archaeo-Physics LLC, including Dave Maki, Sigrid Arnott, and Kent Bakken. They will discuss the different methods they use, from field walking to ground penetrating radar, and about how artifacts are “de-coded” to help paint a picture of life in Pope County over the last 13,000 years. The archaeologists will also discuss previous archaeological work in the county beginning in the 1880s, the kinds of archaeological sites that have been found across the county, and what these sites can tell us.
The talk will be followed by an artifact identification workshop. Residents are invited to bring artifacts they have found, and project archaeologists will provide information on the age, function and historical contexts of the objects. For more information check out the Pope County Museum web site at: https://popecountymuseum.wordpress.com/
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has posted a job opening for an archaeologist. The position is being posted at two levels; State Program Administrator, Principal and State Program Administrator, Coordinator. You can download a copy of the job description here: http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/MnDOT-opening.pdf If you are interested follow the instructions for how to apply at the end of the document. Application deadline is listed as September 27, 2017. Here is the link to the job search page: https://careers.mn.gov/psp/hcm92apc/MNCAREERS/HRCR/c/HRS_HRAM.HRS_APP_SCHJOB.GBL?Page=HRS_APP_SCHJOB&Action=U&FOCUS=Applicant&SiteId=1001
Minnesota Archaeology Month (MAM) continues this weekend with a couple of events in the Little Falls area. Tonight (9/15/2017) Jim Cummings will present a program on the archaeology in Minnesota’s State Parks as part of the Morrison County Historical Society annual meeting. On Saturday as part of the Camp Ripley Open House Patrick Neumann provide a display about the archaeology within the military reserve along with demonstrations on how artifacts were made and used.
Also on Saturday (9/16/2017) at the McLeod County Historical Museum in Hutchinson the folks from Maritime Heritage Minnesota will present a program on dugout canoes that have been found in Minnesota. The presentation will focus on the dugout canoe in the museum there in Hutchinson.
That same Saturday the Sidewalk Bar & Grill in West Union will be the location for a presentation by David Mather of the Minnesota Historic Preservation Office on the Sauk Valley Man who was discovered nearby in 1938. David’s discussion will focus on how interpretation of this site has changed through time.
For additional information about these and other events happening during Minnesota Archaeology Month this September you can download an event schedule here: