MAS Annual Meeting and Lecture

The Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Archaeological Society will be held Friday, April 20, 2012 at Sorin Hall on the campus of Hamline University.  Dr. Michael Michlovic, Professor of Anthropology at Minnesota State University – Moorhead will present a lecture titled “A Survey Archaeologist’s Perspective on Southwestern Minnesota Prehistory.”  The presentation will focus on the 2010 Swift County survey, while at the same time addressing some ideas about culture change, diffusion, and the beginnings of more settled life-ways in the later portion of the prehistoric period.  Some attention will also be devoted to the potential significance and drawbacks of archeological survey in an area such as the Minnesota prairies. 

Dr. Michlovic’s lectures are always entertaining and informative.  The cost is $20 per person which includes a buffet dinner and the event is open to everyone, member or not.  For additional information check out this link.

Fish Pots and Greasy Soils

Occasionally while excavating an archaeological site in Minnesota the archaeologists come across an especially unique and interesting feature.  In 2009 while excavating a site in Beltrami County the archaeologists from Two Pines Resource Group uncovered a fragmentary late woodland ceramic vessel that contained a large amount of fish bone.   This was unusual for a couple of reasons.  First, fish bone is so fragile it is often not preserved and second to actually have the recognizable contents of a vessel still present is a rare occurrence.   The only other similar occurrence I’m aware of here in Minnesota happened about twenty-five years earlier at another site on Forest Service land in an adjacent county where Hohman-Caine & Goltz recovered another Blackduck vessel with fish remains sandwiched between broken rim and body sherds of the vessel.
Continue reading “Fish Pots and Greasy Soils”

Paleo-Indian sites at Thunder Bay

On Saturday, September 24, 2011 the Northern Lakes Archaeological Society (NLAS) is hosting a presentation by Dave Norris, of Western Heritage Services, Inc.  Norris  has been excavating a large archaeological site just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario.  The lecture is titled Archaeology in Thunder Bay:  How Modern Day Travel Corridors are Finding Ancient Ones.  The event will be held in the Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Avenue, Superior, Wisconsin at noon.  For those who are geographically challenged, Thunder Bay, Ontario is just 40 miles from the Minnesota border and Superior, Wisconsin is across the bay from Duluth.

Continue reading “Paleo-Indian sites at Thunder Bay”

Annual Pine City Knapp-In

This coming Friday, June 24th and Saturday, June 25th the annual Pine City Knapp-In will be held at the North West Company Fur Post , 1.5 miles west of I-35 at the Pine City exit.  This annual event has been taking place for a couple of decades, allowing flintknappers, archaeologists, collectors, and the interested public a chance to see and discuss how stone tools are made.  The event is co-sponsored by the North West Company Fur Post and the Minnesota Knapping Guild. 

If you are a flintknapper of any skill level you are welcome to bring yourequipment, and a chair, and join in.  There are usually knapping tools and raw stone for sale.  The public is encouraged to watch and ask questions and to bring artifacts they have found for identification.  There is an admission fee to the site, but the Knapp-Inn is free.  Bring your family and spend some time touring the reconstructed fur post and then sit a spell, and watch, and visit with the flintknappers.

Gopher State Spring Artifact Show

If you are looking for something to do this weekend and the snow doesn’t get too deep, the Gopher State Archaeological Society will host its annual Spring Artifact Show at the Clarion Inn in Rochester, Minnesota on Sunday, April 17, from 9 am to 3 pm.  The Clarion Inn is located at 1630 South Broadway.  There is a nominal admission fee.

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”

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.

Omars – not artifacts

One of the most common non-artifacts shown to archaeologists are cobbles with spherical voids in them referred to by geologists as omars.  Admittedly this was also the first thing I found when I was younger that I thought might be an Indian artifact.  These are generally blue-gray to green-gray cobbles with round holes or depressions in them.  Omars are often thought to be paint pots or bases for fire starters or drills by their finders.  While they could have functioned as such, they often show no evidence of the wear or polish within the depression that such uses would have produced. 

 The holes are the result of the weathering of calcareous concretions from the stone.  The base stone being harder is more resistant to weathering and the softer concretions weather away leaving the spherical holes.  Here’s a link to a scientific article discussing omars and how geologists use them to track the movement of glaciers.