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

Winter Archaeology

It sure has seemed like winter the last week and it seems that more and more archeological excavation is taking place during the winter here in the north.  In the past once the snow fell or the ground froze most archaeological work stopped for the season and archaeologists retired to the lab analyzing the material excavated during the spring, summer and fall seasons.   Most of the work taking place in the winter is site excavation, rather than looking for sites (survey) and is driven by project construction schedules.  At this point the archaeologists are aware of the presence of the site and need to evaluate or gather data from the site before construction impacts or destroys the site.  While the work is still done by hand using shovels and trowels, improvements in winter outerwear have made the work a little more bearable.   Space heaters and temporary plastic enclosures help to temper the cold and thermal blankets or old fashioned straw bales help to keep the excavation units from freezing overnight.

Florin Cultural Resource Services gained some notoriety and got lots of media attention last year for excavating outdoors through one of the coldest winters on record.  They seem to be at it again this year and have been working on a road project near Gull Lake, northwest of Brainerd.  Here is a link to some of the press they have been getting so far this year.