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Missouri Department of Transportation

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Archaeology and the Public 

Archaeology and the PublicMoDOT conducts archaeological investigations throughout the state in order to comply with preservation regulations, and to promote environmental responsibility.  These investigations provide archaeologists, and the interested public with insights into the unique lifeways of the past inhabitants of Missouri.    In order to study the lifeways of people in the past, Archaeologists divide the past into many different and distinct time-fames, called “Periods.”  Brief descriptions of the archaeological periods for Missouri can be read here.  Furthermore, several examples of MoDOT archeological excavations that allowed for public visitation are presented below.

A variety of sites on the web provide additional information regarding archaeology and the public.   A few of these local, national, and professional websites are listed below:

 

Public Archaeology Websites

Missouri Archaeology
  • Missouri Archaeological Society – The Missouri Archaeological Society began in 1934 as a nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to educational and charitable purposes.  Several of the stated purposes of the Missouri Archaeological Society are to encourage cooperation among professional and amateur archaeologists, promote the study of prehistoric and historic remains in Missouri, and foster the dissemination of research in archaeology and related disciplines.
National Programs
  • National Park Service’s Archaeology Program – The National Park Service is steward of a diverse cultural legacy. From the cliff dwellings of the Southwest to the reminiscences of neighborhood residents where Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up, this legacy represents a continuum of American heritage–its places, objects, and traditions. The NPS Archeology Program provides national leadership, coordination, and technical guidance to aid in preserving this heritage.

National Organizations
  • Society for American Archaeology – From their website: “The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) is an international organization dedicated to the research, interpretation, and protection of the archaeological heritage of the Americas.  With more than 7,000 members, the society represents professional, student, and avocational archaeologists working in a variety of settings including government agencies, colleges and universities, museums, and the private sector.  Since its inception in 1934, SAA has endeavored to stimulate interest and research in American archaeology; advocated and aid in the conservation of archaeological resources; encourage public access to and appreciation of archaeology; oppose all looting of sites and the purchase and sale of looted archaeological materials; and serve as a bond among those interested in the archaeology of the Americas.”
  • Society for Historical Archaeology – From their website: “Formed in 1967, the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) is the largest scholarly group concerned with the archaeology of the modern world (A.D. 1400-present). The main focus of the society is the era since the beginning of European exploration.  SHA promotes scholarly research and the dissemination of knowledge concerning historical archaeology.  The society is specifically concerned with the identification, excavation, interpretation, and conservation of sites and materials on land and underwater.  Geographically the society emphasizes the New World, but also includes European exploration and settlement in Africa, Asia, and Oceania.”

 

Examples of MoDOT Public Outreach

The Callaway Farms Site (23CY227)

Callaway Farms SiteThe Callaway Farms Site was occupied near the end of the Late Archaic Period around 800 B.C. It is situated on a buried sand ridge within the Missouri River valley near the base of a nearly vertical bluff.  The Callaway Farms Site is significant as one of the first sites in Missouri to clearly demonstrate the trend towards permanent villages.  The recovered plant remains show that that the inhabitants domesticated a number of starchy and oily seed plants (e.g., maygrass and marshelder) to include in their diet along with wild plants, nuts, fish, and game.  The site excavation occurred from August through October 1999 with public tours given during the last six weeks.  About 3,500 people attended scheduled tours, the majority of whom were elementary school students, while an additional 40-50 people a day would visit as a result of hearing about the site through the media.  An article,  “Callaway Farms Site:  Evidence of a Planed Community During the Terminal Late Archaic Period,” was published in the Missouri Archaeological Society’s Quarterly Newsletter.



The Silver Creek Site (23TE173)

Silver Creek SiteThe Silver Creek Site is situated in Texas County on a toe slope bounded by Roubidoux Creek to the west and Silver Creek to the north and east.  The site was occupied during the Late Archaic, Early Woodland, and Late Woodland periods. The site contains a dense concentration of stone tools such as projectile points, scrapers, and metates, as well as the debris from tool manufacturing activities.  Historically, the site was also the location of a log cabin that served as a schoolhouse and home of the Antioch Baptist Church, which was organized in Plato on September 13, 1884.  Silver Creek SiteDue to the site’s location and proximity to Plato schools, MoDOT opened the excavation to local school groups and offered guided tours of the site.  Interest in the excavation was overwhelming and unexpected, with almost 1100 students (from 3rd through 12th grades) participating in scheduled tours of the site during two weeks in the Fall of 2002.  In addition to the students, approximately 100 adult members of the public visited the site.  An article in MoDOT's Winter 2003 issue of Pathways magazine, "Sifting Through History," describes the public outreach at the Silver Creek Site and the Pendleton Site.



The Three Monkeys Site (23PL1419)

Three Monkeys  SiteThe Three Monkeys Site contains the archaeological remains of a 19th century farmstead in Platte County, which was settled in the 1840s and occupied by three successive generations of the Joshua Noland family.  Because the house appeared to have been burned accidentally, there were a number of personal items that were recovered during the excavations.  Three Monkeys SiteThese included porcelain figurines (including the three monkeys that inspired the site’s name), souvenirs from a trip to Chicago, and a WWI uniform insignia.  Fifth graders from the nearby Union Chapel Elementary School visited the site during the excavations.  A brief article, “MoDOT Archaeological Team Shares Findings at Historical Site,” was presented in MoDOT’s statewide newsletter, Connections.



Big Loose Creek Site (23OS1208)

Big Loose SiteThe Big Loose Creek Site is located in Osage County near where the creek for which it is named enters into the Missouri River valley.  The site is a large village site that revealed archaeological evidence of house basins, postholes, pits, and middens.  The Big Loose Creek Site is important because the study of prehistoric structures allow us to understand how village sites--and the activities that occurred at such sites --were organized.  The large amount of trash that is found in pit features enable us to understand what materials, plants, and animals were used by the site’s inhabitants. This information helps to enhance our understanding of how people interacted with their environment.  Students from local schools visited the site, and members of a local Scout Troop were able to earn their Archaeological Merit badges by participating in the site’s excavation.  Two articles, “Students ‘Dig’ Missouri’s Prehistoric Past” and “Local Scout Troop Earns Badge at MoDOT Archaeological Dig,” were published in MoDOT’s statewide newsletter, Connections.



The Pendleton Site (23ML53)

Pendleton SiteThe Pendleton Site is situated on a ridge overlooking Panther Creek in Miller County.  It was occupied during the Late Archaic Period, ca. 3000-750 B.C.  Evidence recovered from the site will help us learn how Late Archaic people adapted to live in this portion of the northern Ozarks.  We also learned that when given an opportunity, the public is interested in participating in an archaeological “dig” and getting involved in exploring Missouri’s prehistory.  MoDOT invited local citizens to participate in parts of the site excavation process. Over 400 people, mostly students, participated in excavation activities. As a result, participants and visitors to the site learned about the history of the site and why MoDOT is involved in cultural resources management.  An article in MoDOT's Winter 2003 issue of Pathways magazine, "Sifting Through History," describes the public outreach at the Pendleton Site and the Silver Creek Site.



 

Educators and students interested in learning about archaeology can find further information and links to additional resources by clicking the title.



Archaeological investigations conducted by MoDOT over the last several decades have provided us with the opportunity to increase our knowledge of the prehistory and history of Missouri.  To learn about current research or past excavations conducted by MoDOT click the title.

 

 

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