Sign up for e-News Donate
Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

MVAC 2016 Public Field School

July 26, 2016

Group Photo

Link to pictures.               Link to videos.

The 2016 MVAC public field school survived very hot and humid conditions to bring together middle school, high school, college undergraduate and graduate students, and adults to explore another portion of the Norskedalen Heritage site property just west of Coon Valley, WI. Surface collections from agricultural fields on the property indicated that occupations may extend back for thousands of years, into the Archaic and/or Woodland periods. Our goal was to see if there were any in situ deposits below the plow zone.  We worked in two different areas this year. The first was a pumpkin patch where we opened eight 2×2 meter units, but found very few artifacts, and nothing below the plow zone. To survive the heat, and hopefully find more artifacts, we opened nine 2×2 meter units beneath the shade of pine trees in the grassy lawn just north of the classroom building on the property. Here we found many more artifacts, including flakes, some biface fragments, an end scraper, and a drill fragment. Several of the stone raw materials (such as beautiful examples of translucent Cedar Valley chert) may have come from southeastern Minnesota or further north in Wisconsin, rather than from the immediate local area, suggesting the presence of trade and communication routes in the past. The heavy silt loam soil was very challenging to screen, and two rainstorms did not help the process. However, on Friday, by concentrating all of our efforts we were able to get three units into the subsoil. We found a few small flakes down over 15 cm below the base of the plow zone, with the largest piece, a small core, found right at the top of the subsoil. This suggests that there is at least some material below the plow zone, although the density is low. We look forward to 2017 field season to continue exploring adjacent areas and see what else is out there. In particular, we would like to look at more areas closer to the creek to see what might be there, and whether there might be other buried deposits.

Thanks to everyone who helped with this year’s field school, including our Open House visitors who cheered us on and brought watermelon! Thanks to those who provided funds for student scholarships! Thanks to Norskedalen for hosting the field school at their Norskedalen Heritage Site, providing an air-conditioned break room, and tolerating our (many) muddy footprints!