Amateur Archaeologists Dig For Indian Artifacts - - The News for South Mississippi


Amateur Archaeologists Dig For Indian Artifacts

Adult volunteers from around the country and school children from South Mississippi spent the day digging up artifacts in Desoto National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service is hosting an archaeology project in Perry County.  The event is both a treasure hunt and a history lesson.

Fifth graders are getting a crash course in archaeology. The hands-on learning involves lots of shaking and scraping.

"You take some scrapers and kind of scrape against the ground. And you'll feel when you hit a rock and you pick it up. And you have to tell if it's a certain kind of rock. And then you have to mark where you found it," Hattiesburg fifth grader Dean Parker said.

Seniors work alongside the youngsters. They're a part of "Passport In Time," a volunteer program of the U.S. Forest Service.

This year's "dig" is aimed at unearthing artifacts from the Choctaw Indians.

"It's kind of like gambling in that you know that the next trowel of dirt that you move is going to be the big find and you're going to win the prize and it's going to be wonderful. And so you just keep going and going because you know the next one is going to be your big find," Florida volunteer Rose Kellermann said.

Archaeologists learn to expect the unexpected. Organizers anticipated finding Choctaw artifacts. But so far, they've discovered very few. However, the digging isn't over just yet.

Robert Reams is district archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service.

"Last year we came upon a whole pot on the last day, so you never know what you're going to find exactly."

The kids don't care what they find. They're spending a beautiful day digging in the dirt. And loving it.

"Volunteers out here are just super. They explain what they're looking for, what it tells about the Indian history. So, they're just learning more than they could ever learn in a book," fifth grade teacher Donna Munn said.

She knows the kids are excited because they're not asking how much longer do we have to be here, they're asking how much longer can we dig.

By Steve Phillips

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