RFP for Assessing the Archaeological Potential of Two Southeastern Minnesota Coulee Sites

The State Register for March 9th, 2020 (Volume 44, Number 37) included a request for proposals for investigating two archaeological sites.  The Minnesota Historical Society and the Oversight Board of the Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites seek a qualified consultant to better assess the archaeological potential of the King Coulee (21WB56) and Dutchman’s Coulee (21WB55) sites in southeastern Minnesota. The goal of the project is to provide significant new information about the sites, most importantly determining the vertical and horizontal extent of the King Coulee site and the absolute ages of the cultural horizons at both sites. Based on an analysis of soil coring at King Coulee and on detailed analysis of previously recovered information from both sites, the consultant will  develop recommendations for a research design focused on completing a major archaeological excavation. The project cost may not exceed $100,000.

The Request for Proposal is available by contacting Mary Green Toussaint, Contract Manager, Minnesota Historical Society, by e-mail only: mary.green-toussaint@mnhs.org

Proposals must be received by Mary Green Toussaint, MNHS Contract Manager, or her agent by 2:00 p.m. Local Time, Thursday, March 26, 2020. Authorized agents for receipt of proposals are staff located at the Information Desk on the 1st floor of the Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Boulevard West, St. Paul, Minnesota 55102. Late proposals will not be considered.

Wadena and Watonwan Co. Surveys

The Office of the State Archaeologist has recently posted a couple of reports for archaeological surveys funded by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment on its website.  The surveys were completed in Wadena and Watonwan Counties in Minnesota.

The Wadena County archaeological survey was completed during the 2018 field season by the Science Museum of Minnesota with survey beginning in May and concluding in November of that year. The survey involved surface reconnaissance of agricultural fields and transects of shovel test pits in high-potential uncultivated areas. The survey also involved the examination of institutional and private collections. Over the course of the survey 3,000 acres were examined adding an additional 36 new sites in the county. In addition to the 2018 survey a small scale excavation was completed at newly identified site (21WD0053) during the spring of 2019. Initial testing had documented the presence of a large number of sherds from a Brainerd Net-impressed pottery vessel within a charcoal rich burn feature. Follow this link to view the Wadena County Survey Report: https://mn.gov/admin/assets/2019%20Public%20Report_Wadena_tcm36-412083.pdf

The Watonwan County survey examined 4,326.78 acres and documented 16 previously unrecorded archaeological properties in the county. The study by the Archeology Laboratory, Augustana University, Sioux Falls included intensive archaeological and geomorphological investigations of select lands in the county. The geomorphological study focused on river valley settings in the county and the results suggest the stream valley settings offer only limited potential for harboring precontact archaeological sites. Of note is the ephemeral nature of the sites documented during the study, of the 16 sites located only two consisted of more than three artifacts. Follow this link to view the Watonwan County Survey Report: https://mn.gov/admin/assets/2019%20Public%20Report_Watonwan%20County_tcm36-412082.pdf

MAC Annual Meeting

The Midwest Archaeological Conference will hold its 2019 annual meeting in Mankato, Minnesota, October 10-12.  Conference registration is now open.  You do not need to be a member to attend.  Check out the conference web site for more information about events and accomodations: https://www.midwestarchaeology.org/annual-meeting/upcoming

Lake Superior Basin Workshop

The 2019 Lake Superior Basin Workshop will be held Friday March 15 and Saturday March 16 from 9am to 5pm at the University of Minnesota Duluth in Cina Hall rooms 224 and 214.  See the attached flyer and map for additional information:  http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019workshopREVmap.pdf    As always, the emphasis is on informal displays and discussion about archaeology of the region, both sides of the border.  The event is free and open to the public.  If you have questions contact Sue Mulholland at suemulholland@aol.com

 

Request for Proposals – New Pottery Handbook

The Minnesota Historical Society and the Oversight Board of the Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites has posted a request for proposals for the initial phase of assembling a handbook of Minnesota Precontact Pottery.  The purpose of this project is to conduct literature and collections research, facilitate professional discussion and create a new classification system for Minnesota precontact ceramics that will form the basis for eventual production of a finished publication.  Additional phases of  work will occur as funding allows.  The ultimate goal is to create a new version of A Handbook of Minnesota Prehistoric Ceramics originally published in 1979.  Here is the link to the State Register where the announcement is posted on page 921 (page 9 of 14 of this issue)  https://mn.gov/admin/assets/SR43_31%20-%20Accessible_tcm36-369656.pdf  Proposals are due February 19, 2019

Dakota County Survey

The Office of the State Archaeologist recently posted a report for another archaeological survey on its website.  The survey was completed for The Board of the Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites and funded by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.  The report is for a survey of Dakota County, Minnesota.  Fieldwork for the project was undertaken in 2017 by the Science Museum of Minnesota with the goal of documenting additional Precontact and Early Contact sites in the county.  The survey located 32 new archaeological sites.  The results of the survey show a pattern of site distribution across the county which suggests that for millennia the major rivers and their confluences were the focus of large, long term settlement, with much of the county passed through on the way to these more favored locales.   Follow this link to view a copy of the report:  https://mn.gov/admin/assets/Dakota%20County%20Survey-Public%20II%20%281%29_tcm36-352763.pdf 

New Reports Available

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

MAS Annual Meeting and Dinner

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

Lake Superior Basin Workshop

The 2018 LSBW will be held March 16 (Friday) and 17 (Saturday) at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.  Attached flier with maps also including some hotel info  http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2018-Lake-Supereior-Basin-workshop-maps.pdf          

As always, the emphasis is on informal displays and discussion about archaeology of the region, both sides of the border.  If you need table space, please email Clarence Surette at clsurett@lakeheadu.ca (always good to let folks know ahead of time).  Same for posters or, if anyone has an unquenchable urge, presentations (powerpoint or otherwise). 

Clarence is also hosting the lithic exchange; bring some rock to share (with tags listing provenience) and bags. Questions on the venue?  Email Scott Hamilton at shamilto@lakeheadu.ca

Lithic Materials Workshop Update

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