Archaeology at The Crossroads

          When our founders named Crossroads at Big Creek, the “crossroads”part was stating the obvious–we are at the crossroads of Michigan Street and Highway 42/57. But, the true meaning is more of a metaphor. At Crossroads, the past meets the present. Professional scientists join interested and involved citizens. Disparate disciplines merge. The archaeological survey that we are currently conducting further bolsters the recurrent theme of Crossroads, as an intersection of historical interpretation utilizing multiple disciplines by multiple professional scientists.
          I was struck by the amazing crossroads of old and new when three professional archaeologists from Midwest Archaeological Consultants of Sturgeon Bay were at Crossroads last week plotting a grid with a transit along both sides of the Big Creek corridor. As they planned where they would search for signs of prehistoric Indian habitation, they were using GPStechnology—communicating with a satellite—while they quizzed me about past agricultural use at Crossroads and wondered what I knew about post-glacial lakes. Chemistry, Agronomy, Glacial and Pleistocene Geology, Physics, Cultural Anthropology, Archeology and Modernity-All are scientific disciplines that form a crossroads.
          Past people living on the landscape left very subtle clues that they lived there or sometimes they left nothing. Most of what these prehistoric inhabitants left behind has since decayed into the soil and is no longer visible. However, stone tools and their resultant waste flakes during the manufacturing process along with pottery, bone and dark stains in the soil called features, are some of the clues that we can discover that give proof that prehistoric people were here.
          It is the challenge of archaeologists to proceed in the field with the appropriate ethics, methods, techniques and theory with respect to the ideals of the discipline.  If the archaeologists do find clues in the soil indicating the presence of past inhabitants at Crossroads anyone interested is welcome to participate in the survey. We hope to involve learners of all ages. The work will begin the first week of October.
          We are designating October 4 as Archeology Outreach Day.  (That is a day off for several area schools, but we will have after-school programs as well.) At 9:00, 1:00 and 3:00, archaeologists will demonstrate the Phase I archaeological survey techniques, while explaining the ethics of archeology, and then participants will have chance to try sifting soil through ¼ screens. At 11:00 and 4:00, flint knapping demonstrations will be presented in the Rock Garden just outside the Collins Learning Center and inside, visitors can visit a “temporary museum” of where Indian artifacts found in Door County and other parts of Wisconsin will be on display.
          But the archaeological survey will be going on all week. Asked whether observers could watch the survey in progress, principal investigator Randy Dickson replied, “That would be fine. By-standers will want to dig. It’s difficult to turn down free labor.”  So…if you would like to be actively involved in the dig (and it is quite physical), call 746-5859 and we will work about times for you to volunteer.

Comments are closed.