County Wide Archaeological Surveys

Legacy Amendment funds are being used to fund two county wide archaeological surveys.  The Board overseeing the distribution of legacy amendment funds selected two counties where the nature of the archaeological resources are relatively unknown, Olmsted and Swift Counties.  Olmsted County is located in an area that has had limited study by archaeologists and has been the location for the discovery of two very early sites by non-archaeologists, suggesting that the county might contain information about some of the regions earliest inhabitants.  Swift County has only 15 recorded archaeological sites and there have been no professional archaeological excavations done there.
The consultants doing the survey will revisit known sites, interview collectors and local residents, and do field survey across portions of the counties.  The goal for each of the surveys is to develop a summary of the prehistoric past for each of the counties and develop a narrative model of site locations to help predict where in the landscape sites might be found.  This will allow for the protection of important archaeological sites in areas of rapid development such as near Rochester and also help to better understand the prehistoric cultures in these counties.
A portion of the field work was completed early this summer when crop and field conditions allowed for good surface visibility, but survey is continuing through the summer with the excavation of shovel tests in wooded and grass covered locations.  The survey in Swift County is being done by Minnesota State University Moorhead and The Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center is doing the Olmsted County survey.

Excavations at Ranelius

 In July the Science Museum of Minnesota and Minnesota State University-Mankato excavated at the Ranelius site in Spring Lake Park near Hastings.  The dig was funded by a grant through the Minnesota Historical Society funded by the states Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment. 

During the early excavations at Ranelius, over 25 features were discovered. Unfortunately, there are descriptive notes on only 14 of the features.

The work was undertaken to supplement and expand upon research completed at the site in the 1950s by the Science Museum.  Fieldwork was completed by the end of the third week of July.  Ed Fleming, curator of archaeology at the Science Museum has been writing a blog on the project.