Well, I almost cut my hand on a nearly 2,000-year-old blade!

Well, I almost cut my hand on a nearly 2,000-year-old blade!


Anthropology Field School

Life in the Dig '12

DeeAnne Wymer, Ph.D., professor of anthropology, and a group of BU students hit the road each spring in mid-May to spend four weeks in southern Ohio digging at a Hopewell habitation site.

The archeological field school experience enables student teams to rely on new imaging technologies to uncover another living site of the Mound Builders from 2,000 years ago.

The penultimate week of field school was jam packed: exciting discoveries, presentation of previous field research, newspaper articles, open house at the dig site and much more.

These three weeks have flown by!

Late last week, (DeeAnne Wymer, Ph.D., professor of anthropology) gave the first lecture in the summer lecture series at Mound City. She spoke about her findings from the previous field schools at the Brown’s Bottom and Lady’s Run site. In addition to those of us at field school, the event was attended by numerous interested people from the community.

Personally, it was exciting to see how the materials recovered by previous field schools can be analyzed and how it provides important information about what life was like for the Hopewell.

Because we are currently working at a national park, there are certain unique elements to this particular field school. The Hopewell Mound Group National Park just hosted a three-day open house where people could come and tour the site while we were working. We had people of all ages come through, eager to see archaeology in action.

My personal favorite was seeing the young children tour the site then sit down to try and find artifacts. This part of Ohio has a rich cultural history, and it was heartening to see so many people interested in learning more. Dr. Wymer also recently began doing flotation studies at the Mound City center, where people can also come and observe the process. The field school was also publicized in the local paper, the Chillicothe Gazette.

This week, people have been working in various places in the site. Some are working on the long trench, searching for post molds. Others, like my group, have been working in 2x2 meter units, excavating features.

This whole field school we have found some amazing artifacts, and this week I had my own encounter — completely by accident. I was cleaning up loose dirt from my group’s pit, when I felt something sharp press against my hand. After carefully clearing away the loose dirt, we found a flint blade, measuring about six centimeters long.

Anthropology Field School Now when I tell people about field school, I’ll be leading with, “Well, I almost cut my hand on a nearly 2,000-year-old blade!”

With less than a week left, camaraderie is strong within our group. Sunday night was one of the field assistant’s birthdays, and our fellow student from Mexico made authentic mole and enchiladas for the group. It was delicious! Camp life can be difficult at times, but meals like that more than make up for it!

I find it hard to believe that my time here is almost up. I came into this field school having never even camped before, and I was terrified of what lay before me. My fears were for naught, as this has proved to be an unforgettable experience.

I am truly grateful for Dr. Pacheco and SUNY Geneseo and Dr. Wymer and Bloomsburg University for putting together this project. It cannot be easy to deal with all the logistics of planning a field school like this — let alone dealing with 30 some college students!

I have learned so much here, and I would highly recommend this to any and all students interested in archaeology.

    — Jessica Soroka, senior anthropology major