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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Digging in the past

Monday, June 27, 2005

Jason Titcomb (left) took a break from digging in a corn field to talk to others who participated in an archeological dig near Washta.
(photo by Ken Ross)
By Ken Ross, Managing editor

For the last two weeks, archeologist, archeology students and amateur archeologists have gathered in a corn field southwest of Washta, exploring a thousand year old culture.

The Crocker site dig and field school was sponsored by the Sanford Museum and the Sanford Museum Association and supervised by Jason Jill Titcomb of Pike Archeological Research.

Some of the volunteers came and went, with most committing to at least three days of participation. Some were working toward certification in archeological field work but most were simply people interested in archeology.

They dug precisely measured rectangles, uncovering hearths, storage areas and other building features and sifted through dirt for artifacts of the Great Oasis culture which lived in the area between 950 and 1100 A.D.

Jason Titcomb explained that the area they were researching was a small hamlet, typical of the three or four building gatherings of the culture, rather than the larger, sometimes fortified villages of the later Mill Creek Culture.

There were plant remnants and a variety of tools. One interesting find was obsidian which cannot be found as a native mineral any closer than Yellowstone Park. This is evidence that there was long distance trading which occurred at the time.

The find of scrapers indicates that the people processed hides. Corn was found. Corn reached the area as an major food source about a thousand years ago. There were also plant material such as walnuts that are still in the area and food plants that are now regarded as weeds, such as lamb's quarter and pigweed.

The dig is just one of many in the ongoing effort to develop a clearer picture of the prehistoric cultures of the area.

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