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A monumental discovery in Minnesota

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  • minnesotastan
    In north central Minnesota, about halfway between Duluth and the North Dakota border, is a large lake called Leech Lake. On the south shore sits the town of
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 15, 2007
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      In north central Minnesota, about halfway between Duluth and the North
      Dakota border, is a large lake called Leech Lake. On the south shore
      sits the town of Walker, which this year began work on a new Community
      Center. In preparation for that, an archaeological survey was
      commissioned. On the initial walkover, a pit was discovered and
      thought to be a remnant of the fur trade era, so a dig was started.
      Modern artifacts from the pit showed that it had been created by
      children as a "play fort" but the dig also began retrieving lithic
      artifacts.

      To make a long story short, the scrapers and bifaces are now thought
      to be pre-Clovis. In fact, some were recovered from below a layer of
      glacial outwash till. The tentative date assigned to them is about
      12,000 - 14,000 years b.p.

      The significance is that this find pushes back the timeline for human
      arrival in the Midwest. If the putative date of the find is
      confirmed, the Walker site would be contemporaneous with Tom
      Dillehay's Monte Verde site in Chile and the Meadowcroft Rockshelter
      in Pennsylvania.

      Of note for this group is that postulated patterns of migration might
      also be better defined, especially the debate about arrival via an
      interglacial pathway through modern Canada versus in-migration to the
      Central Plains after arrival from a coastal site.

      It amazes me that the investigators searched below the level of
      glacial till. When I dug with the Forestry Service in northern
      Minnesota, we stopped after hitting 10 cm of sterility from glacial
      debris. Perhaps the children's play pit had already penetrated the
      glacial till (which isn't far below the surface in that part of the
      country).

      Here are two links with some details, one from the St. Paul newspaper
      website -

      http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/16450766.htm

      and the other from a Twin Cities television station -

      http://wcco.com/local/local_story_012071945.html


      Those of you who are familiar with the upper Midwest in January will
      understand that there is no digging underway now. I presume there is
      a flurry of scanning EM and other specialty curation of the lithics
      taking place. I own some property less than two miles from the dig
      site, and spend much of my summmer up there, so I'll pass along to
      this group any news I hear from the locals that doesn't make the
      mainstream media.

      Stan
    • Susan English
      Stan, and all, Soon as I saw the post about the discovery at Leech Lake, Minnesota, I emailed a few friends, many of whom are onlookers but not members of this
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 15, 2007
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        Stan, and all,

        Soon as I saw the post about the discovery at Leech Lake, Minnesota,
        I emailed a few friends, many of whom are onlookers but not members
        of this site with Yahoo email addresses. Welcome to all interested
        persons viewing posts.

        An email reply to the link came this afternoon from Ancient
        Earthworks Society president Tom Solberg stating his interest in the
        Leech Lake site. He wrote that a Dr. David Overstreet of Marquette
        University lectured to the Ancient Earthworks Society a few years ago
        regarding a butchered mammoth he found in Kenosha County that dates
        back 13,500 BP. Tom said earlier he could see a relationship
        between "ancient earthworks" and "ancient waterways", liked the idea
        that Stan, myself through this site might organize a little spring or
        summer field trip to the Leech Lake site should there prove anything
        of interest to see. He suggested the Kenosha Public Museum might well
        be included--it has an excellent mammoth display.

        Thursday will see at least two or three of us from this site meeting
        with Tom, members of the Ancient Earthworks Society, and newcomers in
        Madison for a field trip, 5:30 PM dinner at Perkins on University
        Avenue, then the Fred Rydholm talk at the ameeting on the UW campus.
        James Scherz is bringing someone up from Loyolla University. Weather
        permitting, Fred Rydholm has decided to drive down from Marquette
        with his publisher rather thanead of addressing the group by
        teleconference. Both had me read the pre-Clovis post in its entirety
        this afternoon, thought it highly significant in relation to work
        they have been doing. It would be interesting to see if three is a
        mid-1800's survey map Steve mentioned for the area around Leech lake.

        Thanks, Stan for the initial information detailing the Madison
        meeting. With time short this week, I have been referring emails
        requesting AES meeting information to Post #46 of this web site.

        Looking forward to seeing many of you at future conferences, field
        trips, and meetings of other activities related to ancient waterways,
        things of archaeological and cultural significance.

        Susan
        .. --- In ancient_waterways_society@yahoogroups.com, "minnesotastan"
        <minnesotastan@...> wrote:
        >
        > In north central Minnesota, about halfway between Duluth and the
        North
        > Dakota border, is a large lake called Leech Lake. On the south
        shore
        > sits the town of Walker, which this year began work on a new
        Community
        > Center. In preparation for that, an archaeological survey was
        > commissioned. On the initial walkover, a pit was discovered and
        > thought to be a remnant of the fur trade era, so a dig was started.
        > Modern artifacts from the pit showed that it had been created by
        > children as a "play fort" but the dig also began retrieving lithic
        > artifacts.
        >
        > To make a long story short, the scrapers and bifaces are now thought
        > to be pre-Clovis. In fact, some were recovered from below a layer
        of
        > glacial outwash till. The tentative date assigned to them is about
        > 12,000 - 14,000 years b.p.
        >
        > The significance is that this find pushes back the timeline for
        human
        > arrival in the Midwest. If the putative date of the find is
        > confirmed, the Walker site would be contemporaneous with Tom
        > Dillehay's Monte Verde site in Chile and the Meadowcroft Rockshelter
        > in Pennsylvania.
        >
        > Of note for this group is that postulated patterns of migration
        might
        > also be better defined, especially the debate about arrival via an
        > interglacial pathway through modern Canada versus in-migration to
        the
        > Central Plains after arrival from a coastal site.
        >
        > It amazes me that the investigators searched below the level of
        > glacial till. When I dug with the Forestry Service in northern
        > Minnesota, we stopped after hitting 10 cm of sterility from glacial
        > debris. Perhaps the children's play pit had already penetrated the
        > glacial till (which isn't far below the surface in that part of the
        > country).
        >
        > Here are two links with some details, one from the St. Paul
        newspaper
        > website -
        >
        > http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/local/16450766.htm
        >
        > and the other from a Twin Cities television station -
        >
        > http://wcco.com/local/local_story_012071945.html
        >
        >
        > Those of you who are familiar with the upper Midwest in January will
        > understand that there is no digging underway now. I presume there
        is
        > a flurry of scanning EM and other specialty curation of the lithics
        > taking place. I own some property less than two miles from the dig
        > site, and spend much of my summmer up there, so I'll pass along to
        > this group any news I hear from the locals that doesn't make the
        > mainstream media.
        >
        > Stan
        >
      • minnesotastan
        In mid-January I posted a message here reporting the discovery in northern Minnesota of lithic artifacts found beneath glacial outwash till, implying a
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 5, 2007
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          In mid-January I posted a message here reporting the discovery in
          northern Minnesota of lithic artifacts found beneath glacial outwash
          till, implying a pre-Clovis date of deposition.

          The findings have been widely publicized and discussed. This past
          week the Minnesota state archaeologist came out with a report casting
          doubt as to whether the materials recovered were in fact man-made.

          He indicates that the stone tools were more primitive than one would
          expect (there were no points found, just supposed hammerstones,
          scrapers, etc and some possible flakes), that the stone composition
          was only local material, and that the items found could have been
          produced by natural means (water motion, etc).

          Since the find does suggest pre-Clovis occupation, it's not surprising
          that skepticism would be a prominent reaction among established
          archaeologists. On the other hand it is also true that extraordinary
          claims require extraordinary proof.

          The materials recovered are currently being more extensively curated,
          with opinions sought from more experts. It appears likely that the
          site will be excavated again (fortunately the town of Walker is eager
          to protect and preserve the site). Probably no definitive answers
          will be forthcoming for quite a while.

          Those interested in the details of the state archaeologist's views can
          find them in a pdf linked at this website -

          http://www.admin.state.mn.us/osa/

          Over and out,

          Stan
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