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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

Events

In the field.

 

Updated November 10, 2020

  • MVAC 2021 events are on hold.
      • Schedule of Events will be updated throughout the year.
  • Information about regional archaeology events sponsored by other organizations can be found by visiting MVAC’s Facebook page.

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Lecture - Effigy Mound Ceremonial Landscapes

Thursday, February 21, 2019
7:30 pm at UWL Student Union, room 3310
Lecture

Robert BirminghamEffigy mounds — mounds of earth sculpted in the shape of birds, bears, and other animals and figures — are concentrated in southern Wisconsin. Built between circa 700 and 1100 A.D., they were often burial places.

While researchers have learned a lot about these mounds over the years, explanations of their meaning remain elusive.

Drawing on archaeological and other anthropological information on Native American religion and worldviews, Robert A.  Birmingham, lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, will share the idea that often vast effigy mound arrangements are ceremonial landscapes.

Birmingham, who is a former Wisconsin State Archaeologist, says these ceremonial landscapes reflected a religious movement in which key powerful spirits were periodically animated in places where the spirits dwell to bring blessings to humans by renewing the world and to carry the dead in cycle of death and rebirth. He will also share a hypothesis for why this might have been done in a specific geographic area in the Midwest.

Now retired, he continues to write public-oriented books on various archaeological and historical and topics.

Mounds

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Artifact Show

Saturday, March 02, 2019
10 am - 5 pm at Valley View Mall, La Crosse, WI
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

Artifact displaysCome to Valley View Mall and see artifacts representing the area’s long history. Local collectors will display their personal collections, and MVAC staff will bring artifacts recovered from local excavations. Archaeologists will be on hand to answer questions. Bring in your own artifacts for help in their identification. Call MVAC at 608-785-8454 or e-mail Jean if you would like to display your artifacts.

Forests, Fields and Floods: Muddy Perspectives on Cahokia, a Prehistoric City on the Mississippi

Thursday, April 25, 2019
2:15 pm at University of Wisconsin La Crosse, Student Union Theater, room 0120
Lecture

Lecture co-sponsored by UWL Department of Archaeology & Anthropology.

Lecture by Samuel Muñoz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Marine and Environmental Systems at Northeastern University.

Lecture is free and open to the public.

Link to campus map.

Night at the Museum

Friday, April 26, 2019
5-7 pm at Riverside Museum in La Crosse's Riverside Park
Adult/Family, Youth

MVAC’s Connie Arzigian will be presenting interactive archaeology activities at the La Crosse County Historical Society’s Night at the Museum.  Activities are designed for preschool and elementary age children and their families.  Link for more information.

Wisconsin Archaeology Month

Wednesday, May 01, 2019
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

ExcavationA variety of activities will be offered throughout the state during May to introduce the public to Wisconsin’s long and rich cultural past. For a complete list of activities check out the Wisconsin Historical Society’s web site at: http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=N:4294963828-4294963805&dsRecordDetails=R:CS4131.

Volunteer Field Survey Opportunity for MVAC Members

Saturday, May 04, 2019
8:30 am - 4 pm at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Archaeology Center and Laboratories
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

Field SurveyMVAC will celebrate Wisconsin Archaeology Month by involving volunteers in surveys of local fields to find unreported archaeological sites. The day will begin with an introduction at the archaeology laboratory, followed by helping with an actual field survey. Participants will end the day back at the lab to wash the artifacts recovered and learn more about their history. The number of participants is limited, so register early. Children may participate if accompanied by an adult. Rain date: Saturday, May 11, 2019. Advance registration required!  Call MVAC at 608-785-8454 or e-mail Jean to register.

Fee: Free admission for MVAC members.

Archaeology Meet and Greet

Monday, May 13, 2019
3:30 - 6 pm at Black River Falls Public Library
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

May 3 Archaeology EventGary Steele’s artifact collection will be on display at the Black River Falls Public Library during the event.  Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center’s Dr. Connie Arzigian will be available (3:30-6 pm) to identify artifacts brought in by the public.  Susan Steele will be selling and signing copies of her book about her father, Gary Steele entitled Alzheimer’s, Archaeology, and the Armed Forces.  The Black River Falls Public Library is located at 222 Fillmore St., Black River Falls, WI.

Folk Life La Crosse

Saturday, July 13, 2019
10 am - 3 pm at Hixon House, 429 7th St. N., La Crosse, WI
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

MVAC's Connie Arzigian will be demonstrating the chunkey game at Folk Life La Crosse.  Link for more event information.

Egypt - grades 4-6

Monday, July 15, 2019
9 am - 3 pm at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Wimberly Hall, room 312
Youth

Learn about mummies, pyramids, and the people who lived in Egypt at the time of the pharaohs! Hands-on activities will include making a mummy case and mask, and writing a message in hieroglyphics. Cancellations prior to June 28 will receive a full refund minus a $40 cancellation fee. No refunds for cancellations after June 28.

Age: Students entering grades 4-6
Fee: $80
Note: Bring a lunch, drink, snacks and water bottle.

For registration information please contact the:
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Office of Continuing Education and Extension
608-785-6500
Online registration at: http://www.uwlax.edu/conted/archaeology-workshops

For information on activity content please contact:
MVAC's Public Outreach Program at 608-785-8454 or e-mail Jean.

Link to MVAC youth scholarship information.  (PDF)

Public Archaeology Field Schools (3 day experience) - adults and high school students

Monday, July 15, 2019
July 15, 2019: 9 am–5 pm; July 16–17, 2019: 7 am–3:30 pm at University of Wisconsin La Crosse, Student Union, room 3110
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

ExcavationThis multi-day field and lab experience is a well-rounded opportunity for those who want to learn about the process of archaeology. Work alongside professional archaeologists on an actual archaeological excavation and survey work. Lab work may include washing and sorting ceramics, stone tools, and other remains. An experimental archaeology component may explore making stone tools and using an atlatl (spearthrower). Optional lab hours and local field trips will be available after regular field school hours. No previous experience is necessary.

This experience is open to high school students through adults. Fee includes a one-year MVAC membership. Supervised dorm facilities are available for high school students at an additional cost of $225 for 3 days and $335 for 5 days. Cancellation prior to June 14 will receive a full refund minus a $100 cancellation fee. No refunds for cancellations after June 14.

Fee: $350

For registration information please contact the:
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Office of Continuing Education and Extension
608-785-6500
Online registration at:  http://www.uwlax.edu/conted/archaeology-workshops

For information on activity content please contact:
MVAC's Public Outreach Program at 608-785-8454 or e-mail Jean.

Link to MVAC youth scholarship information.  (PDF)

Public Archaeology Field Schools (5 day experience) - adults and high school students

Monday, July 15, 2019
July 15, 2019: 9 am–5 pm; July 16–19, 2019: 7 am–3:30 pm at University of Wisconsin La Crosse, Student Union, room 3110
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

ExcavationThis multi-day field and lab experience is a well-rounded opportunity for those who want to learn about the process of archaeology. Work alongside professional archaeologists on an actual archaeological excavation and survey work. Lab work may include washing and sorting ceramics, stone tools, and other remains. An experimental archaeology component may explore making stone tools and using an atlatl (spearthrower). Optional lab hours and local field trips will be available after regular field school hours. No previous experience is necessary.

This experience is open to high school students through adults. Fee includes a one-year MVAC membership. Supervised dorm facilities are available for high school students at an additional cost of $225 for 3 days and $335 for 5 days. Cancellation prior to June 14 will receive a full refund minus a $100 cancellation fee. No refunds for cancellations after June 14.

Fee: $500

For registration information please contact the:
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Office of Continuing Education and Extension
608-785-6500
Online registration at:  http://www.uwlax.edu/conted/archaeology-workshops

For information on activity content please contact:
MVAC's Public Outreach Program at 608-785-8454 or e-mail Jean

Link to MVAC youth scholarship information. (PDF)

Introduction to Archaeology - grades 5-9

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
9 am–3 pm at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Wimberly Hall, room 312
Youth

Explore MVAC’s Archaeology Lab and work with artifacts recovered from area excavations as an introduction to the science of archaeology. Discover how the first Native Americans in Wisconsin survived, using the area’s natural resources. Students must take this class in order to attend the Middle School Field Experience. This program takes place in the classroom.  It does not include excavation activities. Cancellations prior to June 28 will receive a full refund minus a $40 cancellation fee. No refunds for cancellations after June 28.

Age: Students entering grades 5-9
Fee: $80
Note: Bring a lunch, drink, snacks, and a water bottle.

For registration information please contact the:
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Office of Continuing Education and Extension
608-785-6500
Online registration at:  http://www.uwlax.edu/conted/archaeology-workshops

For information on activity content please contact:
MVAC's Public Outreach Program at 608-785-8454 or e-mail Jean.

Link to MVAC youth scholarship information.  (PDF)

Middle School Field Experience – grades 5-9

Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Thursday, July 18, 2019
9 am–3 pm at University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Wimberly Hall, room 312
Youth

ExcavationTake your excitement for archaeology into the field! Students who have taken MVAC’s Introduction to Archaeology class in the past can join a La Crosse area project. Participants will work alongside professional archaeologists in the field. Activities may include shovel testing or small-scale excavations. Weather may require alternate activities. Cancellations prior to June 28 will receive a full refund minus an $80 cancellation fee. No refunds for cancellations after June 28.

Age: Students entering grades 5-9
Fee:
$200 (includes travel fee)
Note: Bring a lunch, drink, snacks, water bottle, insect repellent, sun screen. Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes that can get dirty.
Prerequisite: MVAC's Introduction to Archaeology class

For registration information please contact the:
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
Office of Continuing Education and Extension
608-785-6500
Online registration at:  http://www.uwlax.edu/conted/archaeology-workshops

For information on activity content please contact:
MVAC's Public Outreach Program at 608-785-8454 or e-mail Jean.

Link to MVAC youth scholarship information. (PDF)

Open House - MVAC Archaeology Field School

Thursday, July 18, 2019
10 am - 2 pm at Goose Island County Park
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

ExcavationSee what the MVAC Public Field School participants are doing this summer! Stop by on Thursday, July 18, between 10 am and 2 pm. The Open House will be held at Goose Island County Park, on the Mississippi River just south of La Crosse. Once in the park, follow the signs to where we’ll be working. Call MVAC at 608-785-6473 or e-mail MVAC@uwlax.edu for more information.

Life of the Ancient Ones

Saturday, August 10, 2019
6:30 pm at Perrot State Park, Trempealeau, WI
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

Join MVAC’s Connie Arzigian for a look into the lives of the early people who once lived in Perrot State Park and surrounding area.  View examples of artifacts and throw an atlatl.  Link for more information.

Whitewater Valley Archaeology and History Festival

Saturday, September 14, 2019
Noon - 3 pm at Whitewater State Park
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

AtlatlMVAC’s Jean Dowiasch will be demonstrating the atlatl at the Whitewater Valley Archaeology and History Festival between noon and 3 pm. Come and practice your skills with the atlatl. Celebrate the fascinating history of the Whitewater Valley! Through demonstrations, hands-on activities and special guest presenters, visitors will be transported back in time. Pick up a schedule at the park office.

Directions: Located 3 miles south of Elba on State Highway 74.

Link to more information

La Crosse Indigenous Peoples' Day Celebration

Monday, October 14, 2019
Noon - 6 pm at Myrick Park, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

Indigenoud Peoples' Day PosterThe event celebrate the indigenous peoples of the world featuring Native American, Hmoob, and Latinx.  MVAC staff will be present with displays and demonstrations.  Link to more information.

13,000 Years in Adams County

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
4 - 6 pm at Adams County Library, 569 N. Cedar St., Adams, WI
Lecture

ScreeningEver wondered who did the rock paintings at Roche-a-Cri State Park? Is there an old mound on your property that really doesn’t look like it was made by nature? Did your grandfather leave you a box of rocks that might be arrowheads?

For answers to these and other questions, Adams County Library invites you to a discussion on Wisconsin archaeology with Dr. Connie Arzigian. Dr. Arzigian will talk about the prehistory of the area, using authentic Wisconsin artifacts to demonstrate how Native American stone tools look and were manufactured. She invites people to bring items from their personal collections for her to inspect. She may be able to provide information about their age and use.

Dr. Arzigian is an expert on Midwestern archaeology and paleoecology, examining subsistence and settlement systems, and the origins of agriculture. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Archaeology and Anthropology Department at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, and a Research Archaeologist with the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at UW-L. Dr. Arzigian is an active field archaeologist, running archaeological field schools every summer through the UW-La Crosse.

The talk will be Wednesday, October 16, 4 – 6 pm at the Community Center, room 145B. Everyone is welcome. If time permits, Dr. Arzigian will demonstrate flint knapping techniques.

For further information, please contact Erin Foley at the Library, at 608-339-4250.

International Archaeology Day

Saturday, October 19, 2019
Adult/Family, Teachers, Youth

International Archaeology Day LogoMississippi Valley Archaeology Center is a Collaborating Organization for the Archaeological Institute of America’s International Archaeology Day on Saturday, October 19, 2019.  Link to more information about the day.

Silver Mound - Fall 2019 WAS Meeting - Open to Public

Saturday, October 19, 2019
10 am - 4 pm at Alma Center KOA, N9657 WI-95, Alma Center, WI 54611
Adult/Family, Teachers

Event PosterThis year’s Wisconsin Archeological Society Fall Field Assembly is co-sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Archaeological Center and will be held at Silver Mound, one of the largest, oldest, and most important archaeological sites in the Midwest. Silver Mound was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006. “Hixton Silicified Sandstone,” the stone found at Silver Mound, was used by Native Peoples for nearly 12,000 years.  Activities/displays include: flintknapping artifact identification, atlatl throwing, Native American games, and local artifact collections.  Guided tours of prehistoric rock shelters, rock art locations, and quarry pits.  Link to more information.

Annual Awards and Lecture – Prehistoric Archaeology at 120': Investigating 9,000 Year Old Hunting Sites Beneath the Great Lakes

Thursday, November 07, 2019
Social 6:30 pm, Awards 7 pm, Lecture 7:30 pm at UWL Student Union, room 3310
Lecture

John O'SheaUnderwater ArchaeologyAt the end of the last Ice Age, the newly formed Great Lakes oscillated between levels that were much higher and much lower than today.  During the low water stage, a feature known as the Alpena-Amberley Ridge divided the Lake Huron basin and provided a continuous corridor between southern Ontario and northern Lower Michigan.  This talk will describe recent research focused on discovering and investigating hunting sites and other cultural features from this era  that are preserved beneath modern Lake Huron.  These finds provide important new insights into the lives of early Great Lakes hunters, and one that could only be recovered underwater.

John O'Shea is the Curator of Great Lakes Archaeology at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, and the Emerson F. Greenman Collegiate Professor of Archaeology in the university’s Department of Anthropology. 

Link to TEDx talk by John O’Shea.