Home Artifacts DVIDS – News – Archaeologist discusses the painstaking work of archeology and the discovery of artifacts

DVIDS – News – Archaeologist discusses the painstaking work of archeology and the discovery of artifacts


Archaeologist Tyler Olsen of the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands at Colorado State University (CSU) has worked on dozens of archaeological digs at Fort McCoy over the years, and he said he has found some amazing artifacts. But, he said, that’s after a lot of hard, painstaking work and research, and more.

“Doing this is never easy,” Olsen said as he worked in the shade on July 14 while digging dirt into a grate to place in an agitator. For several weeks in July, members of the Fort McCoy Public Works Branch Archaeological Team, Environmental Division, Natural Resources Branch (NRB), and CSU, organized a special archaeological survey and excavation of the Fort McCoy South Post housing area by examining areas around old concrete tent pads. which were once part of Camp Robinson. Olsen used an archaeological vibrating screen to search for artifacts.

A vibrating screen action, by definition, is a method of analyzing the soil removed during excavation and passing it through screen meshes of different sizes. This technique allows archaeologists to recover artifacts, which might go unnoticed during sediment removal due to their negligible size.

“We’re using a quarter-inch mesh, which is pretty standard for finding historical materials,” Olsen said, using his vibrating screen. “You usually don’t find pieces of military insignia, buttons or sockets or even actual loads still small enough to fall through the holes. The other side of that is you have a lot of rocks. So you have to sift through and remove any roots or large boulders and see if there’s anything among all those boulders that might help tell some of the story of the area we’re studying.

“And that’s the whole point,” Olsen said. “The goal is to try to dig below the surface of the ground and see if we can find any little pieces that help tell the story of what was happening in this area 10 to maybe 1,000 years ago. year.”

Regular archaeological work has been underway at Fort McCoy for at least four decades, and although his 2022 work on South Post did not yield any ancient artifacts, he said his work with the Fort McCoy archaeological team found interesting objects, including a very old hearth.

“The only thing we can guarantee at Fort McCoy which is 10,000 years old is a hearth that we found we could do radiocarbon analysis on,” Olsen said. “Of course it took time. But we also found a lot, and I mean a lot of what we call projectile points.

“We found all sorts of things below the ground surface,” Olsen said. “And I would venture to say that probably 90 to 95 percent of the artifacts that have been recovered here at Fort McCoy that have been found below ground surface have gone through something exactly like this screen. Either a version like this with legs to brace as we shake or something more wearable.

As he continued to sift through dirt and turf, Olsen said he was just doing what he always loved to do. He also said that the physical part of finding or not finding artifacts is only a small part of the job. Documentation, research, cataloging and other work related to artifacts can take just as much time.

“I think most of us do it because we love it,” Olsen said. “It’s a labor of love for sure.”

Olsen, along with many other members of the Fort McCoy archeology team, continued excavation work at South Post throughout July. They will spend months examining the artifacts they have found. Some artifacts, including those Olsen found in his vibrating screen, will date back more than a century to the facility’s beginnings.

“Obviously, at this place, we’re only continuing the history of Fort McCoy, and that only goes back a little over 110 years,” Olsen said with another vigorous shaker screen beat. “But specifically, in this area, we have a strong tendency to find objects that date from 1926 to 1940. So if we can find small materials, we are looking to see if they fall into this category. Even after we finish to look up something online or in older journals like the Society for Historical Archaeology, we’ll probably have to consult plenty of material guides online that will help us cut down on time.

Fort McCoy archaeologists, including Olsen, have examined ancient quarries where the first people to enter the state quarried stone for their weapons and tools, documented the homes and farms of pioneer families, and rediscovered remains of the very first infantry maneuvers at Camp Emory. Upton in 1909-10.

Additionally, decades of archaeological work have generated hundreds of thousands of artifacts, some of which are on display at the Fort McCoy History Center, Building 902, in the Memorial Area. Others are supported by the Mississippi Valley Center for Archeology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy” and on Twitter by searching for “usagmccoy”.

Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app on your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another facility as your preferred base.

Date taken: 26.08.2022
Date posted: 26.08.2022 15:11
Story ID: 428149
Location: FORT MCCOY, Wisconsin, USA

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