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BSU students find 250 archaeology sites in Montgomery County

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Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014 1:15 am

Ball State students found 250 archaeological sites in seven months while surveying southern Montgomery County. Their survey increased the county’s overall archaeological site total to 691.

The archeology students revealed their findings to the public Wednesday night at the Carnegie Museum.

They surveyed the county through a grant administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The grant provided the students with archeology experience and benefited the county by adding to its history.

“Montgomery County has changed considerably since first occupation, and our artifacts helped bring to light some of those major changes,” said archeology graduate student Colin Macleod. “We have seen different periods of time exhibited through our findings.”

The students’ objective was to determine the culture of inhabitants from different time periods. They used their artifacts to establish that insight.

For instance, one student found a Snyders point, which was used to hunt larger mammals from 200 B.C. to 400 A.D.

“It is a great way to understand the past,” archaeologist Christine Thompson said. “It makes us understand how we got here and who came before us.”

The students surveyed 900 acres of southern Montgomery County from September 2013 to March 2014. Eight landowners allowed the students to survey their land.

Although the weather interfered with part of their surveying, the students found over 1,500 historic and prehistoric artifacts. The artifacts ranged from glass to stone.

The respective landowners will receive the artifacts found on their land as part of the grant.

Of the 250 sites the students found, 140 were prehistoric and 71 historic. The other 39 were multi-component sites, meaning both historic and prehistoric artifacts were found in those areas.

In addition to presenting their findings, the students provided an insight to the archaeological process through a video.

During field surveys, they walk through cultivated fields using 10-meter pacing. They use GPS equipment to mark potential sites and walk a five-meter radius after finding an artifact.

Then, they transport the artifacts into a lab, where they clean and identify the artifacts. That includes macroscopic and microscopic analysis.

Finally, they organize the artifacts and list them on a database.

“The lab takes up the majority of the work,” Thompson said. “The survey takes less time than expected.”

The students’ surveys did not included excavation, since most of the county is privately owned.

As part of the grant, the students must compose an article for the Indiana Archeology Journal.

The students were not able to disclose the archaeological sites on account of Indiana archeology laws.

The field and lab experience benefited the students since they had the opportunity to view historic and prehistoric artifacts.

“We are after the full cultural chronology,” Macleod said. “We want to know how people lived their lives and their non-material culture. We study that through the material culture they left behind.”

While the students’ experience is coming to a conclusion, the county is also benefiting from a study at Yount’s Mill. The public will hear about the findings from that site in spring 2015.

“It is great whenever we can stir interest in the county,” Thompson said. “It is also exciting for students to get real world experience from an archaeological standpoint and by working with landowners. I am glad Montgomery County gets to experience that several times.”

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