Re: A monumental discovery in Minnesota
- 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.
.. --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "minnesotastan"
> In north central Minnesota, about halfway between Duluth and the
> Dakota border, is a large lake called Leech Lake. On the southshore
> sits the town of Walker, which this year began work on a newCommunity
> Center. In preparation for that, an archaeological survey wasof
> 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
> 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
> glacial outwash till. The tentative date assigned to them is abouthuman
> 12,000 - 14,000 years b.p.
> The significance is that this find pushes back the timeline for
> arrival in the Midwest. If the putative date of the find ismight
> 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
> also be better defined, especially the debate about arrival via anthe
> interglacial pathway through modern Canada versus in-migration to
> Central Plains after arrival from a coastal site.newspaper
> 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
> Here are two links with some details, one from the St. Paul
> website -is
> and the other from a Twin Cities television station -
> Those of you who are familiar with the upper Midwest in January will
> understand that there is no digging underway now. I presume there
> 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.
- 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 -
Over and out,