| 4 May 2010
Archaeologists explore ancient site in Wisconsin
Traffic will one day race over an archeological treasure trove off Highway 26 near Lake Koshkonong (USA), where a group of Milwaukee archaeologists believe they've found remnants left by some of Wisconsin's earliest residents. For weeks, crews from the Great Lakes Archeological Research Center have been recovering prehistoric American Indian artifacts on a 2-acre strip of land just south of Fort Atkinson.
The dig is being done through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in anticipation of the expansion of Highway 26. Tentative state plans would put the northbound lanes of the new, expanded Highway 26 over about 80 percent of the site. Only the east edge of the site would remain untouched as state and privately owned property, officials said.
"Finding a pristine site like this is very exciting and very rare," said Ricky Kubicek, an archeologist with the Great Lakes Archeological Research Center. "As we bring up (artifacts), most of them are as they were left off by the original (inhabitants)." Kubicek supervises a crew of 15 archeologists who are under a tight deadline to recover as many artifacts from the site as possible. The crew will work until August and hopes to unearth about 50 percent of the artifacts surveyors believe exist on the property, department of transportation officials said.
Crews are using soil analysis to find artifact deposits known as middens, site archeologist Ryan Harke said. Middens are recognizable because they create breaks in normal soil layering. "They're like ancient garbage dumps," Harke said. Kubicek said some middens have concentrations of discarded items that show ancient people used certain spots at the site for specific tasks, such as tool making or pottery crafting.
While crews have found no human remains at the site, other items include pottery and tool fragments from the Woodland people, an ancient native group that lived in the region 2,500 to 800 years ago. One significant artifact crews unearthed is PROBABLY a Folsom point, a type of stone spear head used by hunters in the Paleo era - one of the earliest prehistoric cultures in Wisconsin. Kubicek said he expects to find significant items until the very end of the dig.
The bulk of artifacts found at the site will be sent to UW-Milwaukee for further analysis of their composition, age and what cultures might have used them, Kubicek said. Currently, there are no plans to make the site a protected historical site.
Source: GazetteXtra.com (2 May 2010)
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