Visitors to a previous Archaeology Day at the Michigan Historical Center try the atatl, a spear-throwing device.
Indiana Jones, the famous movie archaeologist, was always off in some exotic part of the world pursuing archaeological artifacts. But what about right here in Michigan – are there archaeologists working in our own backyard? Indeed there are!
On October 12th – Archaeology Day in the Michigan Historical Center – archaeologists from around the state will set up displays and answer questions about their projects. There will be a demonstration of stone tool-making, and you can try to hit a deer target with a spear using an atlatl, or spear-thrower, a device used in Michigan’s forests for thousands of years.
Native American Copper
Native American procurement and use of copper is a topic that will be featured at this year’s Archaeology Day. Native people began mining copper on Isle Royale and in the western Upper Peninsula as early as seven thousand years ago. They cold-hammered pieces of copper to make a variety of implements and ornaments, including spear points, knives, axes, awls, drills, chisels, fishhooks, harpoons, bracelets and beads. Copper objects like these, and undoubtedly raw copper as well, were traded widely across much of eastern North America. Check out this year’s poster done in conjunction with Archaeology Day that illustrates a beautiful copper spear point found in Houghton County.
Stop in at the Forum auditorium and listen to the four presentations scheduled for Archaeology Day. This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Great Storm of 1913, and Wayne Lusardi, underwater archaeologist with the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, will talk about the storm and the many shipwrecks it caused (Editors note: Visitors can also find Great Storm of 1913 items on display in the Lakes Effects weather exhibit.). Seth DePasqual, Cultural Resources Manager for Isle Royale National Park, will speak about ancient copper mining by Native Americans. Several archaeologists from Wayne State University will collaborate to talk about a topic that probably does not occur to most people: archaeology in urban areas, in this case, in Detroit. Jeffery Sommer, with the Saginaw County Historical Society, will talk about what he is finding at his archaeological dig in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.
A display from a previous Archaeology Day at the Michigan Historical Center.
All ages will enjoy Archaeology Day, but there will be a number of activities especially for kids. There will be a mock excavation where kids can try their hand at finding artifacts, and a stratigraphy wall that shows how archaeologists study soil layers. There will be an opportunity to make a clay pot like those made by Native Americans hundreds of years ago. Kids can take home a copy of an activity book with puzzles, word games, coloring pages, and more.
There is something for everyone at Archaeology Day 2013 – it’s an event you won’t want to miss!