Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday and it is back to work for the field school students. One major item on the agenda was to map in the grid points, excavation units and features with a total station. A total station is an optical instrument used to survey sites. Picture one is of a student with the total station, and one sitting on the ground recording the data. The second picture is of a student holding the reflector prism to which the person operating the total station aims at in order to record distances and angles of specific points on the site. This endeavour took the skills of three of the students most of the afternoon to complete. The end product will be a detailed map of the project area which can be used as a point of reference for future research at the Pickawillany.
Friday, July 25, 2008
When It Rained Diamonds
Scientists say jewels and metals found in
Ohio tell of a world-changing explosion
Monday, July 21, 2008 3:00 AM
By Kevin Mayhood
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
NORTH BEND, Ohio -- The theory is as wild as it is controversial: that a comet, which left no crater, exploded over Canada almost 13,000 years ago, wiped out the woolly mammoth and other land giants and nearly decimated the first known human culture in North America.
"I thought that was a bunch of nonsense," said Kenneth Tankersley, a University of Cincinnati anthropologist.
But by the end of June, Tankersley was a convert.
Now he says that he not only believes the scientists who came up with the theory, but "I've come up with their best evidence."
That evidence, he said, includes diamonds, gold, silver and copper and comet debris that his team found in Ohio in May and June and matched with the materials found in Canada.
The theory, including that the diamonds and metals rained from the skies, still is controversial and is attracting a lot of attention. One documentary on the subject has aired on the National Geographic Channel, and at least two others are in the works.
(Others say these materials were carried into Ohio and elsewhere by glaciers.)
Tankersley is writing a paper that he hopes to publish this year.
The idea originated years ago with Allen West, a retired geophysicist from Dewey, Ariz., who said that an ice age was coming to an end when a comet broke up and exploded above the thick ice sheet that covered eastern Canada 12,900 years ago.
In a paper published last year, West and his colleagues described an explosive force that lifted diamonds, gold, silver and copper from the ground and threw them into the atmosphere.
The explosion, they say, set off massive forest fires and shock waves that sent the debris flying 400 mph across North America and as far as Ireland.
Oceans were overwhelmed by melting glaciers and the debris blocked sunlight, reversing the warming trend. In turn, the Earth was cooled for an additional 1,300 years.
"The bigger animals went extinct; smaller omnivores did the best," West said, who has found comet debris from the Canada explosion across the United States and into Europe.
Some scientists think that the first known humans in North America, called the Clovis culture, overhunted mammoths and other "megafauna" into extinction, but West says those large mammals died off when the rapid climate change killed the plants they ate.
Some scientists think that the Clovis population grew during this time, based on the number of artifacts found at archaeological sites across the country. Others, however, say their numbers dropped significantly when their main food sources disappeared.
"It's an exciting and sort of fun idea," said Bradley T. Lepper, curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.
"But associating (the comet's impact) with the changing culture of the Clovis and extinction of the megafauna is a stretch."
Lepper is in the camp that thinks the Clovis population increased during that time and points to the high number of artifacts found across the region.
Tankersley is in the opposite camp. He said he and his students found pieces of weapons, tools and other artifacts that suggest the Clovis shifted from hunting mammoths to relying on plants for food.
That change, he said, caused the Clovis population to decrease.
"Their technology went extinct because they were no longer hunting mammoths."
Tankersley's finds this year were resting a few inches beneath the surface in a remote part of Shawnee Lookout, a park west of Cincinnati.
East of the city, near Newtown, Tankersley also has found copper, gold, silver and tiny diamonds as well as pieces of the Canada comet.
He found more of the same in Sheriden Cave, in Wyandot County. The metals were found in a layer of earth that includes charcoal and burnt remains of a giant beaver and pig.
Carbon dating suggests that the layer is 12,900 years old, right when the comet was supposed to have exploded.
West said some diamonds were blown out of Canada by the explosion and others formed in Ohio and elsewhere when the carbon from burning trees was pressurized by the initial shock wave or aftershocks.
Both West and Tankersley have linked the debris found here and elsewhere to the event in Canada by tests that show they share the same age and composition.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
To paraphrase the famous quote from the movie Field of Dreams..."if you excavate it, they will come". And did they ever!
The day started with interviews by Dayton's WKEF ABC 22 Ohio (photo 1). Here is a link to their story http://www.wkef22.com/shared/newsroom/top_stories/wkef_vid_566.shtml
Next came the long awaited public tour, one of two that will be given during the Hocking College field school. Over 120 people boarded the canal boat at 12:30 to be transported back to the site. They came in as one large wave which, as one person remarked, was somewhat reminiscent of the French and Ottawa attack that ended the Miami and British occupation of Pickawillany. After an introduction by site manager Andy Hite and a welcome by OHS archaeologist Linda Pansing, one of the field supervisors, Tony Cox, addressed the crowd. Afterward everyone was encouraged to talk to the students about what they were doing and look at the artifacts and features that have been discovered during the excavation. Families listened while students explained why archaeology is important not only to them but in helping interpret the site (photo 2). The "Champion" day campers looked on with eager eyes, fascinated by the whole process (photo 3).
Along with the visitors came the crew of "Around the Farm", a local access channel program which promotes the various events at the Piqua Historical Area. They interviewed students about the
After an hour on site, the tour was over and the visitors walked back to the canal boat.
If you would like to see what all the buzz is about there is one more open visitation day available and we would love to see you! It is Wednesday July 3oth. For more information please call the Piqua Historical Area at 800-752-2619.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Another glorious day at Pickawillany and the amount of public and professional interest in the site is evident by the many visitors the field school had today. Both Ohio Magazine (photo 1) and the Dayton Daily News (photo 2) traveled across farm fields to see the students in action.
Martha Potter Otto and Brad Lepper, Curators of Archaeology from the Ohio Historical Society, were show around the excavation by Hocking College instructor Dr. Annette Ericksen (photo 3).
Not only is the field school receiving local and regional visitation but it is of international interest as well. Ian Taylor from the British Museum, likely one of the few British citizens to come to the site since it was abandoned 256 year ago, spent time speaking with Dr. Ericksen about the various discoveries the students have made so far this field season. He was so taken by the history and work that is being done that he expressed interest in joining the crew in the field next year!
Now on to recent discoveries.
Adjacent to two posts moulds which were discussed in a previous blog, an additional post was located (photo 4). In the center of the unit featured this picture you can see a sizable rock located in the post mould. The questions still remain as to the time period the posts belong and how many more posts are left to be found.
In a different excavation unit a kaolin pipe fragment was found (photo 5). You can see this portion is where the pipe stem and bowl came together.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Here is the Pickawillany field school of 2008! Pictured (in alphabetical order) are: Bob Brown, Tony Cox, Dr. Annette Ericksen, Mike Ferrell, Steve House, Mark Johnson, Matt Kolodziejczyk, Amanda Loveridge, Miranda McKinney, Elise Meyers, Jessica Munday-McGee, Skyeler Sommer, Tom Spurlock, Matt Steinmetz, Andy Weiland and John Zevenberger.
During today's sun shine and 80 degree temperatures the students worked on four 2x2 meter units that were divided into four quarters; north west, north east, south west and south east. The goal was to take two of the quarters down to the sub soil to look for anomalies found during geophysical testing that was conducted from 2002-2008.
Today they found several artifacts, both prehistoric and historic in nature. Of particular interest were a french gun flint (photo 2) and two glass beads (photo 3), both of which were located in the same unit. In addition to the artifacts, one of the quarters held two post moulds and another feature (photo 4). You can see the post moulds and chinking stones (stone used to secure the post in place) at the bottom of the unit. The other feature stretches across the top of the whole unit. Now the big question: are the feature and post moulds associated with Pickawillany structures or are they from an older occupation? At this point that question has yet to be answered but hopefully at the end of the investigation the we will know more than we do presently.
The local newspaper, the Piqua Daily Call, paid us a visit, interviewed the students and took pictures for an upcoming article (photo 5).
Tomorrow's goal is to excavate the the other two quarters down to the same depth as the ones they did today. So check back tomorrow for the latest update on the Pickawillany investigation.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The Ohio Historical Society is pleased to announce that the Hocking College field school at Pickawillany started today and will go through July 31st. The field school is lead by Dr. Annette Ericksen (photo 1, center) with the assistance of supervisors Tony Cox (left) and Bob Brown (right). For those of you who have not heard about Pickawillany before, check out the blog post dated September 29, 2006 http://ohio-archaeology.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2006-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2007-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=35.
When the students arrived at the Piqua Historical Area this morning site manager Andy Hite (photo 2) spoke to them about the history of the Miami Village and English trader compound and gave them a tour of the museum. The students had the chance to look over artifacts recovered from the site in the 1970's and a selection of trade items typical of the period (photo 3). This will help them recognize similar artifacts when they are encountered during excavations.Afterward everyone headed over to the excavation area, set up their research grids and went to work (photo 4).
If you are interested in see the field school "in action" tours will be given on Thursday the 24th and Wednesday the 30th. Visitors will board the canal boat at 12:30 to be transported back to the site. For information about the Piqua Historical Area, including entry fees and directions please visit http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/places/nw13/
We look forward to seeing you at the site, but if you cannot make it please check back on the blog for daily updates!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
This week the Toledo Blade did a great in depth report of the investigation which you can see at http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080629/NEWS08/806290348. Make sure to click on the "Multimedia" button to see more project pictures and hear the archaeologists talk about the vessel and what all is involved in the survey.