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Students gain skills unearthing the past

Michigan archaeology dig

Archaeology master’s student Jeff Painter and undergraduate anthropology major Jennifer Goldman participated in the Michigan dig.

Distinguished Sociology and Anthropology Professor James Skibo and a team of students were the first to unearth a new archeological site, which may offer insights into more than 4,000 years of human history.

Skibo lead a team this summer on an annual Grand Island Archaeological Research Project through the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan. Grand Island has a history of inhabitants from roughly 2,000 B.C. to present day. This year was the first dig on the island’s west side.

The dig was near Mather Lodge, built by tycoon William Mather, who owned the island in the early 1900s. The Forest Services is considering opening the lodge up as a museum, and requested Skibo and his team excavate the area.

Students learned field techniques of archaeology and created detailed maps of the sites with a Geographical Information System. They also helped lead activities for the Hiawatha National Forest, from working with a youth workshop to giving detailed site tours.