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I dig Arkansas archeology

June 26, 2014

I just returned from the Arkansas Archeological Society’s Annual Training Program. It was hot. We worked long hours. I have poison ivy. But when people ask me how I like living in Arkansas, the fact that we have this program is one of the reasons I love being here. The Arkansas Archeological Society in partnership with the Arkansas Archeological Survey holds the training program for two weeks each June. Not only are participants in the field excavating a cool site and participating in laboratory activities, the program offers evening speakers and a number of seminars. It is public archeology at its finest.

Jessica Howe & Matt Comer excavating at the Training Program.

Jessica Howe and Matt Comer excavating during the Annual Training Program.

The program began in 1964 as an annual activity of the Arkansas Archeological Society under the direction of archeologists at the University of Arkansas Museum. Since 1967, the program has been under the supervision of the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s archeologists. The Survey archeologists schedule the field sessions to coordinate with ongoing research. The sessions are held at various sites throughout Arkansas to provide Society members with varied archeological experiences. People travel from all around the country to attend.

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Basic Excavations students practicing their profiling skills.

This year we continued the research at 3MN298 in the Ouachita Mountains. The site is multicomponent, with Middle Archaic (circa 6000-5000 B.C.), Woodland (circa 1000-0 B.C.), and Mississippian (circa 1450-1650 A.D.) period occupations. A variety of seminars were available for participants to take including Paleoethnobotany, Ceramics, Site Survey, Basic Lab, and Basic Excavation. I taught Basic Excavation in a Caddoan house site. We had a combination of classroom lectures and field experience. We practiced mapping profiles on a bell at the Oden high school and we excavated a cool feature in which a stone bead fragment, pottery sherds, burnt corn cob, and other plant remains were recovered through flotation.

10406979_10154338280405083_5387713315869614031_nIt was a lot of fun, but it was also challenging as I had to balance difficult fieldwork with teaching for various ages and ability. The class consisted of three adults and three children (9, 12, and 14). There were things I could have done better with additional preparation (and advance knowledge of the age range of my participants). But overall, it was a great week in which I spent a week in the mountains, learned a lot about teaching archeology to the public and about archeology in the Ouachitas, and got to visit with colleagues and meet new people who care about archeology and Arkansas’s rich past. I dig Arkansas archeology.

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Jamie Chad Brandon's Home on the Web... an anthropologist living, researching and teaching in Arkansas

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