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.

Recent Losses

The archaeological community was saddened by the recent passing of two long time Minnesota archaeologists.  Doug Birk whose work focused on the European Colonial period in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.  Doug was an expert on the fur trade and early European exploration.   And Steven Mulholland who focused on northern Minnesota archaeology.  Steve’s expertise was in lithic analysis and toolstone identification, particularly in northeastern Minnesota.  Steve was also a recent past president of the Council for Minnesota Archaeology.  A copy of Doug’s obituary can be found here: http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Birk-obituary-web.pdf   A copy of Steve’s obituary here:  http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Stephen-Obiturary-web.pdf  

Our condolences to their families.

2017 Lake Superior Basin Conference

The annual Lake Superior Basin Workshop will be held March 17 and 18, 2017 in the Heritage Center at Grand Portage National Monument (https://www.nps.gov/grpo/index.htm ).  The address is 170 Mile Creek Road, Grand Portage, Minnesota.  The event will run from 9 am to 5 pm both Friday (17) and Saturday (18).  The core of the Workshop is one-on-one or small group discussions on artifacts, sites and other archeological topics.  A congenial atmosphere to share information and ask questions.  The event is free and open to the public. Download the event flyer here:  http://mnfieldnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017-Sup-workshop.pdf

Pope County Survey

The Oversight Board of the Statewide Historical and Archaeological Survey and the Minnesota Historical Society have released a request for proposals for an archaeological survey of Pope County, Minnesota.  The purposes of the survey are to summarize what is known about the early human occupation of the county, update the State Archaeologist’s site file with regard to the status of known archaeological sites and find through field survey unrecorded prehistoric and early historic sites.  The cost of the survey should not exceed $95,000.  For more information follow this link to the State Register and see page number 960:  http://mn.gov/admin/assets/SR41_32%20-%20Accessible_tcm36-277012.pdf

Dakota County Survey

I realize this a busy time for contractors with the end of the field season approaching, but the Oversight Board of the Statewide Historical and Archaeological Survey has released another call for proposals, this one for an archaeological survey of Dakota County.  It was published in this week’s issue of the State Register, the Monday 24 October 2016 issue. It is on page 496 (or page 12 of the current issue).

“The Minnesota Historical Society (Society) and the Oversight Board of the Statewide Historical and Archaeological Survey (Board) seek a qualified consultant to conduct an archaeological survey of Dakota County. The purposes of the project are to summarize what is known about the early human occupation of the county, update the State Archaeologist’s site file with regard to the status of known archaeological sites, and find through field survey unrecorded prehistoric and early historic sites. The cost of the survey should not exceed $95,000.” 

Follow this link to the current issue of the State Register for more information:   http://www.comm.media.state.mn.us/bookstore/stateregister/41_17.pdf


Minnesota River Valley Survey

A survey report recently posted by the Office of the State Archaeologist details the results of an archaeological and geomorphological study of the Minnesota River valley, The Minnesota River Trench:  An Archeological and Geomorphological Study of its Prehistory and Settlement by Austin A. Buhta, Rolfe D. Mandel, Michael G. Michlovic, Eric C. Grimm, and L. Adrian Hannus.  The primary goal of the study was to determine where prehistoric archaeological sites are located within the valley and to determine whether there are settlement patterns present among the primary prehistoric cultural traditions that are present in the valley.  The second focus was to evaluate a known, possible, paleoindian site (21LP0011) in the river trench.  Excavation at an intact paleoindian site within the valley could help understand some of Minnesota’s earliest occupants and would also provide information on the timing and character of Glacial River Warren, which formed the Minnesota River valley as Glacial Lake Agassiz’s southernmost outlet.

The geomorphological study helped to determine what landforms within the river trench would have been available for habitation at a given period in time and also explained how erosion and channel migration would have modified or destroyed any archaeological sites present.

The archaeological study used information from previously recorded sites along with field survey of 1,446 acres to ascertain site locations within the river valley.  Erosion and sedimentation have resulted in a low probability of surficial sites within the valley.  Recent work has documented that colluvial and alluvial processes have buried sites in the lower Minnesota River valley under meters of sediment.

This technical report will likely be of more interest to professional archaeologists rather than avocational archaeologists, however the section regarding the excavations at site 21LP0011 is an interesting read.  At this site the archaeologists try to determine the age of the major component of the site without the advantage of diagnostic artifacts or datable material recovered from their excavations.

Follow this link to download the report (it is a 13 MB file):  http://mn.gov/admin/assets/minnesota-river-report-public-b_tcm36-247477.pdf

Stone Tools of Minnesota

The Office of the State Archaeologist recently posted a digital version of a new stone tool identification guide for Minnesota.  The publication titled “Stone Tools of Minnesota” was authored by Toby A. Morrow with contributions by Scott F. Anfinson, Kent E. Bakken, Guy E. Gibbon, Michael D. Giller, John H. Hahn, Daniel K. Higginbottom, and Craig M. Johnson.  The project 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.
The book is more than just and identification guide to Minnesota’s stone tools, but a textbook on lithic materials and lithic technology in Minnesota.  For example, the introductory chapter includes sections on; objects commonly mistaken for stone tools, facts about fakes (modern reproductions), how we have learned about stone tools, and lithic use wear and residue studies (plant residues including starches and phytoliths and animal residues like blood).
Besides the Introduction, chapters include; A Brief Primer in Geology; History of Lithic Analysis in Minnesota (Anfinson); Chipped Stone Tools; Projectile Points; Chipped Stone Raw Materials (Bakken); Ground Stone Tools; and a chapter on Future Directions which suggests the directions future studies to understand and analyze stone tools should take.
The book is heavily illustrated with excellent color photographs showing the artifacts full size and is over 400 pages in length.  It has something for both the avocational and professional archaeologist.  Due to the size of the digital file it was posted as two downloads.   Part 1: http://mn.gov/admin/assets/stone-tools-of-minnesota-part1_tcm36-247478.pdf    (14MB) and Part 2: http://mn.gov/admin/assets/stone-tools-of-minnesota-part2_tcm36-247479.pdf   (17MB).  At this time there are no hard copies of the report available, the Board of the Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites is working on getting it published.

Job Opening

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service is looking for a part time archaeologist (20 hours a week, based in St. Paul) to help with the backlog of field survey projects.  The position is through the National Older Worker Career Center so you must be at least 55 years old to apply.  Follow this link for additional information:  https://www.nowcc.org/r/positions/view.aspx?record_id=3679