Gales of November

The 23rd annual Gales of November will be held in Duluth, Minnesota Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13.  What began 23 years ago as a small gathering of divers sharing shipwreck pictures has grown into a festive two-day educational and networking event.   Gales of November features fascinating exhibits, lectures, and presentations.  The event often includes sessions on maritime archaeology and historic preservation.  This exciting two day benefit is the premiere fundraising event for the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association (LSMMA). Funds raised by the Gales of November Benefit help maintain and protect the maritime history in the Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center at the foot of the aerial lift bridge in Duluth.  For additional information check out the web site.

North Shore Archaeological Survey

The Duluth Archaeology Center (DAC) is conducting an archaeological survey with funding from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Legacy Amendment, approved by voters in 2009.  The survey will focus on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Cook, Lake, and St. Louis Counties and adjacent areas of Carlton County, where glacial lakes were present 12,000-10,000 years ago. Researchers will be looking to document both historic and prehistoric sites. The fieldwork will begin this fall with a final report to be completed by the end of June 2011. Continue reading “North Shore Archaeological Survey”

CMA Symposium 2011

The Council for Minnesota Archaeology (CMA) is planning a two-day symposium on current archaeological research in the Upper Midwest to be held February 18th and 19th, 2011 at Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.   “Farmsteads, Factories, Forts and Frontiers” has been chosen for the theme.  The main focus will be Historic in nature but papers on all regional subjects are welcomed.  A call for papers was issued in October with a submittal deadline of December 19, 2010.





Maritime Archeology in Minnesota

A Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant provided by the Legacy Act will fund the excavation and documentation of a portion of the starboard side gunwale of the wreck of the Andy Gibson.   The Andy Gibson was a sternwheel steamer that operated on the Mississippi River between the towns of Aitkin and Grand Rapids.  The data collected from this partially dry excavation will be combined with the preliminary measurements made of the submerged portions of the wreck by Maritime Heritage Minnesota (MHM) in previous seasons.   Maritime Heritage Minnesota is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and when necessary, the excavation of Minnesota’s finite maritime archaeological and historical resources.  Excavation is expected to begin October 15.
Continue reading “Maritime Archeology in Minnesota”

Prehistoric Pottery of Minnesota

For those of you interested in the prehistoric pottery of Minnesota there is a useful online publication compiled by Guy Gibbon at the University of Minnesota, part of the Diagnostic Artifacts in Minnesota Series.  Titled Prehistoric Pottery of Minnesota: A Guide, it provides the defining attributes, chronology, distribution maps, a description, defined types, type sites, and references for a number of wares found in Minnesota.  Most also include good clear photographs of examples.  This is an ongoing project completed by Gibbon and his students, building on Scott Anfinson’s A Handbook of Minnesota Prehistoric Ceramics  published in 1979.  As Gibbon states “Thirty years of subsequent archaeological excavation and research have added new information about the distribution and dating of some ceramic wares, and the presence in the state of still other wares. Prehistoric Pottery of Minnesota: A Guide is one approach to providing an update that accommodates the constant influx of new information into the field of archaeology.”


Lecture – Knife Lake Siltstone in the BWCA

A 2009 archaeological survey on Knife Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness identified numerous sites believed to have been quarries used by early peoples for thousands of years.  The sites include discarded tools quarry debris, and waste from making stone tools.  The presentation will discuss the research and field work on the quarries and what they tell us about the very earliest inhabitants of what today is the BWCAW.   Speakers will be Bill Clayton and Lee Johnson.  Both men are Archaeologists for the Superior National Forest.   The presentation, entitled Mookomaan Zaag’igan (Knife Lake) Siltstone:  The Geology, Importance, Use, and Manufacture of Lithic Tools by the Boundary Waters’ First People, is sponsored by the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.  It will be held at the John B. Davis Lecture Hall in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center on Macalester College on Tuesday, October 19, 2010.  The presentation starts at 7:30 pm with refreshments served at 8:30 pm after questions. 


Excavations at Agate Bay’s Whiskey Row

One of the largest archaeological excavations taking place in Minnesota this past summer was at Whiskey Row on the north side of Agate Bay.  This has been a multi-year project done in advance of the proposed construction of a Safe Harbor and Marina in Two Harbors.  Agate Bay was the precursor settlement to Two Harbors with a notorious district known as Whiskey Row.  Whiskey Row was reported to have consisted of 22 saloons, several hotels, and a smattering of other businesses at its peak in 1883.  In the late 1880s the area was abandoned, leveled and capped to become a coal storage facility.  The wood, then concrete cap has served to protect the remains of this early community from later disturbance creating a time capsule. 
Continue reading “Excavations at Agate Bay’s Whiskey Row”

Archaeology Day at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

September 25, 2010, 10 am to 4 pm. 

The last Saturday in September the Minnesota Archaeological Society and Mille Lacs Kathio State Park hold their annual Archaeology Day.  Come andexperience demonstrations of flint-knapping, pottery making, primitive bow making, spears and spear throwers. View displays of artifacts and projects and see an archaeological excavation in progress. Canoe tours will offer views and discussion about archaeological sites.  It is a beautiful time of year to visit the park.  Its 9000 years of human history and archaeological significance has made it a National Historic Landmark.  Generations of archaeologists have worked and studied there, see what they have discovered. 

Minnesota Field Schools

As part of their undergraduate training all archaeologists participate in a field school.  There were five field schools held in Minnesota by various state institutions  this summer.  

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Department of Anthropology held their field school at an historic site in Old Wadena County Park where they continued the investigation of a multi-component site that includes a significant French colonial period fur trade location, and the initial survey of a second reported fur trade site.  They also managed to get in on the Wadena tornado for some added excitement. 

Minnesota State University-Mankato investigated several sites in the Red Wing area, including a couple of sites across the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.  Fieldwork included surveys for new sites along Spring Creek and test excavations at sites discovered by the 2006 field school.  One of the sites investigated appears to be a single component Oneota site were students discovered large intact pit features just below the plow zone, indicating that the site has great research potential.

The University of Minnesota Duluth continued excavations at a group of aceramic (without pottery) sites in the Bay View School Forest in Duluth.  Then students headed north to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to do some site survey for the National Forest Service.

St. Cloud State University archaeologists excavated at the Shoemaker site, located on the campus.  Students are studying the community of Lowertown, occupied in the early 1850s by European-Americans who came to St. Cloud from eastern states.  Lowertown homes and businesses were located underneath what is now the SCSU campus area. 

Minnesota State University-Moorhead field school participants were involved in a county-wide survey for archaeological sites in Swift County.  Swift County is located in west central Minnesota.   The county-wide survey is one of the archaeological projects being completed using funds from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.  The students relocated previously recorded archaeological sites and found a number of previously undocumented sites in the county.