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1 August 2009
Digging archaeology along a pipeline in Nebraska

Last April TransCanada Keystone pipeline archaeologists discovered a small village 6-10 feet beneath the surface of one of Dennis Arens Sr.'s farm fields near Hartington in Nebraska (USA). During archaeological surveys last fall, archaeologists found evidence that something was down there. As construction began this spring on the Keystone oil pipeline, which is running through northeast Nebraska, workers found a small piece of pottery and some arrowheads.
     After consulting with state and federal agencies, TransCanada workers spent the next two weeks excavating the site. In addition to the artifacts, they found about 30 holes of 3-4 feet in diameter. They were burn holes, used for cooking over fire. It's estimated the settlement was 1,200-2,000 years old. "I was surprised it was there," Arens said. "I couldn't believe all the small circles that were there." But after thinking about it, it made sense. Two creeks run nearby, providing a steady water source. "It was a perfect site," Arens said.
     Once satisfied that the site had been excavated and all artifacts removed, workers covered it back up. After consulting with the proper state and federal authorities, TransCanada Keystone project representative Jeff Rauh said, the company decided that the pipeline route would not be altered and it would run over the site, which again is deep beneath the surface. No human remains were found at the site. All artifacts were sent to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to be analyzed and documented. Once university officials are done with them, Arens can have them back.
     When artifacts are found, said Jeff Rauh, a project representative for the Keystone pipeline, the company consults with federal and state agencies before taking action. In some cases, there will be excavation. The company will see if it can go around the site. "We definitely have modified our route in response to findings like this one," Rauh said.

Source: Sioux City Journal (1 August 2009)

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