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

2018 Lithic Material Workshop

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

Minnesota Historical Society RFPs

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

Pope County Archaeology Event

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/

Request for Proposals Wadena County Survey

The Monday August 28, 2017 issue of the Minnesota State Register (Volume 42, Number 9) carries an announcement of a Request for Proposals funded through the Legacy Amendment’s Statewide Survey of Historic and Archaeological Sites. This project is an archaeological survey of Wadena County. Proposals are due on September 21st. 

To learn more you can find the Minnesota State Register at https://mn.gov/admin/assets/SR42_9%20-%20Accessible_tcm36-309361.pdf.  The RFP is on page 266 of this issue.

Minnesota Archeologist, Volume 74

The latest issue of the Minnesota Archeologist (Volume 74) has been published. Articles include the third installment of the history of Minnesota archaeology by Guy Gibbon and Scott Anfinson focusing on the period of the 1970s to 2015 looking at cultural resource management archaeology. David Maki, Sigrid Arnott and Michael Bergervoet examine the relationship between burial mound locations and the geophysical evidence for lightning strikes. Jack Steinbring presents some optically stimulated luminescence dates from the Hensler Petroglyph site in east-central Wisconsin suggesting that some of the glyphs date to before 10,000 BP. A multi-component Woodland site in southeastern Minnesota excavated in 1997 by the MnDNR Division of Trails and Waterways, 21HU0167, is reported on by Timothy Tumberg. Dan Wendt and Mark Doperalski assess the limits of raw material analysis and identification by archaeologists in Minnesota, discussing how they are doing and means of improvement. Kent Bakken documents a biface cache from Todd County, Minnesota consisting of 12 minimally worked bifaces made of non-local materials, specifically Mayes Creek Chert and Burlington Chert. Plant microfossils (starch granules and phytoliths) were examined by Alexandra Burchill and Mathew Boyd to provide a better understanding of the plant foods utilized by the Initial Woodland inhabitants of northern Minnesota. Mathew Mattson discusses using traditionally available tools and methods to work raw copper obtained from glacial drift to produce copper tools consistent with archaeologically recovered specimens. David Mather continues his series on Minnesota archaeological sites recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places including two American Indian earthwork sites, an historic stagecoach road and associated archaeological sites, and a multicomponent habitation/mound site in a national forest. The issue concludes with an article in memory of Herb Wright and his contributions to archaeology authored by Scott Anfinson.

Follow this link to see the table of contents http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Volume-74.pdf . If you would like to order a copy contact the Minnesota Archaeological Society. You can email Kent Bakken at bakk0029@umn.edu or Anna Morrow at anmorrow@q.com . They can also be reached by mail at The Minnesota Archaeological Society, Fort Snelling History Center, 200 Tower Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55111.