George Holley and Michael Michlovic, both of Minnesota State University Moorhead, recently completed a survey of the late prehistoric ceramics of southern and western Minnesota. The Prehistoric Village Cultures of Southern Minnesota is the first focused assessment of prehistoric ceramics in this part of Minnesota in over 30 years. Pottery is the main tool archeologists use in identifying or recognizing Woodland and later cultures in Minnesota. As archaeologists our understanding and interpretation of the ceramic sequences in Minnesota have changed, but our professional literature has not kept up with our current knowledge. This is the second Legacy Amendment funded project to focus on Minnesota prehistoric pottery. The Age of Brainerd Ceramics completed last year focused on Brainerd Ware a type of pottery found in north-central Minnesota. A third study is currently underway focusing on sequencing the Woodland pottery of west-central Minnesota. Beyond just characterizing the pottery Holley and Michlovic look at the interaction between the plains and woodland cultures discussing their influence on this region. The heavily illustrated report can be found on the Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist web site (here).
The Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist has just posted public versions of two new County survey reports on its web site. These surveys were completed for McLeod (click here) and Steele (click here) Counties in Minnesota. The McLeod County Survey was completed by archaeologists from Bolton & Menk, Inc. and the Steele County Survey by 10,000 Lakes Archaeology, Inc. Both projects were supported by Funds from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment. These counties were chosen for survey based on the limited number of previously recorded archaeological sites within their boundaries, their environmental settings, and while still mainly rural in character both have seen increasing development. These surveys will enable public officials to better manage cultural resources and will help to educate the public and professionals alike about the prehistory of these Counties and the region.
If you’ve ever wondered what is at the bottom of one of our metropolitan lakes this report will give you a glimpse of what’s down there. Maritime Heritage Minnesota staff and volunteers donned SCUBA gear to check out some of the anomalies they located during a 2011 – 2012 side and down-imaging sonar survey of Lake Minnetonka. Objects included a turn of the century barge, a stolen then scuttled aluminum fishing boat, a motorized ice boat and a 1955 Mercury Monterey four door sedan, among others. Some of the anomalies turned out to be natural features including a sunken section of once floating bog and rock piles. While most survey reports can be rather uninteresting to browse this one reads more like an issue of National Geographic with lots of pictures and interesting commentary. Check it out here.
The Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) has posted a public version of a report completed by the Archaeology Laboratory of Augustana College on the archaeology of Red Lake County, Minnesota. The primary objective of the study was to expand the breadth of collective knowledge concerning the location and character of archaeological sites in Red Lake County. The survey documented 24 previously unrecorded sites and revisited 9 previously recorded/reported sites in the county. Prior to the survey there were 8 recorded sites in the OSA sites inventory. Local artifact collectors were interviewed and their collections documented. The study was also augmented by a geomorphological investigation. The county survey 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. Here is a link to the report. It is a 9 MB file so it might take a while to download.
For consulting firms and interested academics there is a request for proposals out for a study documenting Minnesota’s 19th century masonry ruins. The purpose of the project is to create an inventory of known sites, to develop a framework for evaluating their historical significance, and to develop strategies for their stabilization and interpretation. For more information check out the Monday September 24, 2012 issue of the State Register. (See pages 460-461)
Olmstead Counties First Residents: Archaeology Overview and Recent Survey Results.
Dr. Constance Arzigian, Senior researcher at the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center and associate lecturer in Sociology and Archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, will present an overview of past cultures in the Rochester area, from big-game hunters at the end of the Ice Age to the first farmers at 1000 A.D. In 2010, as part of the Statewide Survey of Historical and Archaeological Sites, Dr. Arzigian received a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund to study previous archaeological findings in Olmsted County and conduct a new archaeological survey of the region. This lecture will present her findings and interpret them within the broader context of research on Native cultures of our region. The event is free and open to the public and will be held at the Rochester Public Library on Sunday, March 25 from 2 to 4 pm. Check out this link to learn more.