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Respond to: The nitty-gritty of Archeaological Surveys
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from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2007-06-29 14:07  |
Submitted by coldrum --
A "slice of life" news story. What IS involved in an "archaeological survey"?
Jean Dowiasch lives to find prehistoric artifacts. But when she does, she often becomes the bearer of bad news.
Dowiasch is an archaeologist with Mississippi Archaeology. Last week she surveyed a tree line and a cornfield in Turtle Township. All she found were two golf balls and a rusty cultivator blade.
"Some day they'll be digging these up and studying us," joked Norm Tadt, Rock County's senior conservation specialist, who coordinated the survey.
If Dowiasch had found prehistoric artifacts, a team of archaeologists would have combed the area and removed as many ancient treasures as they could find. This would have caused a big delay in the plans to build a water diversion that will ease flooding in the homes along County S between Petter and Buss roads.
Dowiasch dug 10 holes in the planned construction zone. From each hole, she scooped two or three spadefulls of soil into a box with a mesh bottom. Then she sifted the soil, watching carefully for pieces of pottery, spearheads or certain stone chips.
The chips were formed when Native Americans used a hammer stone to pound chirt rock into a spearhead in a process called "flint knapping." Archaeologists learn to knap spearheads so they can recognize the chips, said Dowiasch, a 1981 graduate of UW-La Crosse.
The Wisconsin Historical Society keeps records of the sites containing artifacts and requires a survey when construction is planned within a mile of one of the sites.
The society has recorded nine findings of artifacts within a mile of the planned water diversion. They include:
The historic Turtleville and Shopiere cemeteries.
-- Six sites containing prehistoric artifacts of "unknown age."
-- One site containing artifacts from the Archaic period-about 6,000 years ago.
Dowiasch said Native Americans lived in the area that is now Turtle Township as long as 10,000 years ago.
In 1839, Caleb E. Culver was the first European to build a home in Shopiere, according to "The Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock County" on the Hedburg Public Library's Web site.
The area that is now Shopiere was a hardwood forest before it was settled, Tadt said. Native Americans would have likely made temporary camps along the creek.
Tadt said Turtle and Fulton townships are Rock County's hotbeds of prehistoric artifacts.
When archaeologists find artifacts in the way of planned construction, the process of removing them is so time-consuming that landowners often cancel the project, Dowiasch said.
In that case, researchers would leave the artifacts in the ground for future generations to find.
"In the future, they will have better technology to search for these things and study them," Dowiasch said.