Dig it: Archaeology field school students unearth stories of the past


Interdisciplinary anthropology seniors Eric Olson and Emily Holbrook painstakingly remove soil, in 10-centimeter layers, to keep potential artifacts intact.

University of Akron interdisciplinary anthropology senior Eric Olson meticulously skims a razor-thin layer of soil from a precisely framed and dug square pit. The "hole" reveals a treasure trove of remnants once hidden below a grassy field in Hudson, Ohio, where UA archaeology field school students are unburying stories of the past.

Hand trowels in tow, the students have been working at the prehistoric site since late July, excavating and sifting soil and collecting chert flakes and shatter found in their samplings. The chert flakes and shatter tell a story of a bustle of activity that occurred at the site in prehistoric days.

"Chert flakes and shatter are byproducts of manufacturing stone tools so we know that prehistoric people were here making tools," says instructor and community archaeologist Linda Whitman, whose students have been on the site hand excavating small patches and screening the soil for artifacts.

Students screen excavated soil for artifacts found at the Hudson dig site.

Olson and fellow interdisciplinary anthropology senior Emily Holson discovered what they call a "feature" in their trench. Holbrook points to gray streaks, which contrast abruptly with their orange-red soil surroundings, and charcoal chips in the clay earth, both evidence of a fire. Holson explains that the remnants will be sent to a lab for radiocarbon dating.

Whitman teaches students methods and techniques used by professional archaeologists to excavate sites. The students are paired to excavate 2-by-2-meter sections — 10-centimeter levels down to sterile subsoil — which they screen in search of artifacts.

On this Hudson site off Barlow Road, diagnostic artifacts suggesting an exact time period have not yet been found, according to Whitman. She adds that several sites dating from the Early Archaic period (around 8000 BC) though the Late Woodland period (AD 500 to AD 1200) have been documented in a 10-mile radius of the site.

See also:

WKYC.com: Akron archaeology students look for clues to our past

Media contact: Denise Henry, 330-972-6477 or henryd@uakron.edu.