Paleoamerican Odyssey Conference Overview

The Paleoamerican Odyssey conference held in Santa Fe last October featured a series of talks by researches from around the world focusing on the search for the First Americans.  The Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist will host a lecture at the Historic Fort Snelling visitor center on Thursday evening March 20, 2014 beginning at 6:30 pm where two of the conference participants will summarizes the conference highlights. The event is free and open to the public.

“Adventures in Santa Fe:  The Paleoamerican Odyssey Conference” by Susan C. Mulholland and Stephen L. Mulholland.

The 37 papers presented during the main sessions were complemented by concurrent poster sessions, workshops, papers in the evening, and, most exciting, a display of artifacts from many of the pre-Clovis sites as well as Clovis, Folsom, and other Early Paleoindian sites.  This presentation will focus on the displays of pre-Clovis sites, photographed through the cases (sorry about that) with commentary derived from the presented papers, posters, and associated published articles.  There will be time for questions and answers following the presentation.

The full list of posters presented at the conference is available on-line at http://paleoamericanodyssey.com  The companion book for the conference contains 31 of the 37 presented papers and is available through the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University.  (There is a link to order the book on the Paleoamerican Odyssey web page.)

The Minnesota Archaeologist

The latest issue of The Minnesota Archaeologist (Volume 72, 2013) has been published and mailed.  There are three articles on the Knife Lake siltstone quarry district in northern Minnesota and another about a multicomponent site in Roseau County.  There is an overview of the current status of underwater archaeology in Minnesota and a review of archeological sites recently listed to the National Register of Historic Places.  This issue also includes Part 1 of a history of Minnesota archaeology.  If you would like a copy of the publication contact the Minnesota Archaeological Society.   Click here to view the index for this volume.

Latest Legacy Project Reports

The OSA has posted reports from two of the latest legacy funded archaeology projects on to its web page.  These are Documenting Minnesota’s Nineteenth-Century Masonry Ruins by Two Pines Resource Group, LLC and Evaluating Minnesota’s Historic Dams a Framework for Management completed by Archaeo-Physics, LLC.  The objectives of the masonry ruins study were to create an inventory of nineteenth-century masonry ruins in Minnesota, to develop a framework for evaluating their NRHP eligibility, and to develop strategies for their stabilization, management and interpretation.  The historic dam study was charged similarly with creating an inventory of known historic dams, developing a contextual framework for evaluating and interpreting the historical significance of these properties and to suggest strategies for their documentation.

Both are well illustrated and informative documents and will be useful for cultural resource managers and those interested in interpreting these types of historic properties in Minnesota.

Prehistoric Village Cultures of Southern Minnesota

George Holley and Michael Michlovic, both of Minnesota State University Moorhead, recently completed a survey of the late prehistoric ceramics of southern and western Minnesota.  The Prehistoric Village Cultures of Southern Minnesota is the first focused assessment of prehistoric ceramics in this part of Minnesota in over 30 years.  Pottery is the main tool archeologists use in identifying or recognizing Woodland and later cultures in Minnesota.  As archaeologists our understanding and interpretation of the ceramic sequences in Minnesota have changed, but our professional literature has not kept up with our current knowledge.   This is the second Legacy Amendment funded project to focus on Minnesota prehistoric pottery.  The Age of Brainerd Ceramics completed last year focused on Brainerd Ware a type of pottery found in north-central Minnesota.  A third study is currently underway focusing on sequencing the Woodland pottery of west-central Minnesota.  Beyond just characterizing the pottery Holley and Michlovic look at the interaction between the plains and woodland cultures discussing their influence on this region.  The heavily illustrated report can be found on the Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist web site (here).

New County Survey Reports

The Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist has just posted public versions of two new County survey reports on its web site.  These surveys were completed for McLeod (click here) and Steele (click here) Counties in Minnesota.  The McLeod County Survey was completed by archaeologists from Bolton & Menk, Inc. and the Steele County Survey by 10,000 Lakes Archaeology, Inc.  Both projects were supported by Funds from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment.  These counties were chosen for survey based on the limited number of previously recorded archaeological sites within their boundaries, their environmental settings, and while still mainly rural in character both have seen increasing development.  These surveys will enable public officials to better manage cultural resources and will help to educate the public and professionals alike about the prehistory of these Counties and the region.

Lake Minnetonka Nautical Archaeology

If you’ve ever wondered what is at the bottom of one of our metropolitan lakes this report will give you a glimpse of what’s down there.  Maritime Heritage Minnesota staff and volunteers donned SCUBA gear to check out some of the anomalies they located during a 2011 – 2012 side and down-imaging sonar survey of Lake Minnetonka.  Objects included a turn of the century barge, a stolen then scuttled aluminum fishing boat, a motorized ice boat and a 1955 Mercury Monterey four door sedan, among others.  Some of the anomalies turned out to be natural features including a sunken section of once floating bog and rock piles.  While most survey reports can be rather uninteresting to browse this one reads more like an issue of National Geographic with lots of pictures and interesting commentary.  Check it out here.

Red Lake County Archaeology

The Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) has posted a public version of a report completed by the Archaeology Laboratory of Augustana College on the archaeology of Red Lake County, Minnesota.  The primary objective of the study was to expand the breadth of collective knowledge concerning the location and character of archaeological sites in Red Lake County.  The survey documented 24 previously unrecorded sites and revisited 9 previously recorded/reported sites in the county.  Prior to the survey there were 8 recorded sites in the OSA sites inventory.   Local artifact collectors were interviewed and their collections documented.  The study was also augmented by a geomorphological investigation.  The county survey was funded by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment as part of the Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites.  Here is a link to the report.   It is a 9 MB file so it might take a while to download.

Mandan and Arikara Pottery

While working on his publication A Chronology of Middle Missouri Plains Village Sites, Smithsonian Contributions to Archaeology Volume 47 (2007) Craig Johnson created a type collection of Mandan and Arikara pottery.  The pottery type collection that Craig compiled was photographed and the entire picture set is now available on Flicker for researchers.  Here is a link to a blog entry introducing the type collection   and here is the link to the collection on Flickr.  Johnson’s publication goes into great detail about ceramic classification in Middle Missouri sites, and includes photos of different rim types, as well as discussion and interpretation of the distribution of the types across sites and time-periods, using a variety of dating techniques.  The volume is available as a PDF and can be downloaded at this link. It is great to see a Minnesota archaeologist making significant contributions to our understanding of the past!

The Minnesota Archaeologist Volume 71

The latest issue of The Minnesota Archaeologist, Volume 71, 2012, has been published and was mailed late last week (Jan 19).  This volume includes a series of short research notes on recent archaeological surveys in the state.  Major reports include a couple of articles on paleoIndian sites near Thunder Bay, Ontario.  David Mather discusses Minnesota archaeology and the National Register of Historic Places.  Articles also address a number of new radiocarbon dates from five Minnesota sites, excavations at the multicomponent Woodland occupation at the Big Rice Lake Site, and public archaeology initiatives used by St. Cloud State University faculty at an on campus archaeological site.  The issue also includes an index of all the journal articles from 1939 through 2010.   There is a little something for everyone.  Check out the index here.  You can contact the Minnesota Archaeological Society for a copy of this issue.