University of Toledo students dig into prehistory

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — They had dug and sifted through earth for four weeks, with two more to go, but they did not complain.

“I love every second of it,” said Michael Campbell, 34, of Toledo, a recent University of Toledo graduate on his first archaeological dig. “This is something I wanted to do since I was a little boy in the early 1980s.”

Campbell, who plans to pursue graduate studies in archaeology at Wayne State University in the spring, is part of a UT team of six working a dig in a remote part of Wildwood Preserve Metropark.

It was recorded as an archaeological site in 1976 after someone found pottery fragments and debris from making stone tools before the metropark was established.

The team’s hope is to find pottery fragments of varied styles, said leader Melissa Baltus, assistant professor of anthropology in Toledo’s department of sociology and anthropology.

All Native American groups had their own traditions of making objects, specifically pottery, which is why pottery is the focus of the dig. Finding pottery made in various styles would indicate that groups of Native Americans socially interacted in the greater Toledo area in the late Woodland period of North American pre-Columbian culture, between 500 and 1,300 A.D., according to Baltus.

That period was chosen for the dig because it is often ignored by archaeologists, she said. As for the location, it was picked out of Lucas County’s few known archaeological sites of the period because the prior finds were discovered on the surface, which makes it easier to determine the site’s span — an interesting task, she said.

So far, the group has established the site to be about 165 feet by 245 feet. It likely would be larger had it not been for Interstate 475, according to Baltus.

The group has dug down to the depth of about 3 feet, which would be the surface about 500 A.D., and has found about 100 artifacts.

The objects include fragments of pottery, arrowheads, chips of stones used in tool making, and fragments of animal bones left over from food preparation.

“Unfortunately,” Baltus said, the pottery pieces the group had found so far appear to be too homogeneous or too small to indicate a difference in styles, but there is hope the group still will find evidence of pottery of different styles before the remaining two weeks of the dig conclude.

“It’s very exciting,” said Brianna Geer, 20, of Bedford, Michigan, a Toledo junior majoring in anthropology. “There’s a lot of emotions, because you never know what you are going to find. You can be frustrated because you find nothing or excited because you find a lot.”

“It’s a lot of time,” Geer said. “But it goes very fast.”


Information from: The Blade,

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