By Haley Luke
DEFIANCE, MO (KTVI) – Underneath the beating June sun, Brianna Patterson helped her classmate sift through clumps of dirt using a large screen. They were hoping to unearth more artifacts like the ones they found earlier in the week. They uncovered an animal tooth, pieces of ceramics and a thimble. She is one of eight Lindenwood University students to excavate two sites related to two famous historical figures.
“It’s really cool because you get actual experience and you get to see what really happens when you go out. You don’t really know because it’s never really publicized what an archeologist actually does,” Patterson, sophomore anthropology major, said. “I’ve just saw the artifacts and washed and researched them. Now I’m actually pulling them out of the ground.”
This summer, the Department of Anthropology is conducting its first archeological field school that lasts five weeks. Dr. Steve Dasovich, archeology professor at Lindenwood, leads the six credit course. From May 15 – June 1, the class excavated the homestead site of the founder of the City of St. Charles, Louis Blanchette. The site is now Plank Road Gifts.
Last year, research lead by Dasovich, uncovered a late-1700s building that is believed to be the first place Blanchette settled and built his house. With his group of students, they continued the research and excavation, exposing more floor and a base of a fire place.
After finishing up there, the group headed to the Lindenwood owned property of the first Missouri home of Nathan Boone, youngest son to Daniel Boone. They will be at the location until June 15 where they have been working on uncovering more land and artifacts from this history already known about the Boone family.
In the 2011-2012 academic year, Lindenwood added an anthropology major to its degree options. With the degree, students have the choice to emphasize in either cultural anthropology or archeology. Dasovich said 23 students registered to major in anthropology in its first year.
“This is a great number for just getting started,” Dasovich said.
Dasovich plans on having the field study class again, potentially two summers from now. That will give him and his students time to use the next two years to work with and research the materials they’ve excavated in the lab. Dasovich said that having this new field study course will really enhance the students’ knowledge of archeology as well as enhance their ability to get a job.
“Students have a lot of opportunities to go out and do other things as I go out and do them. That’s part of the reason I do that,” Dasovich said. “So they get other bits of experience that will make it easier for them to find work in this field.”
When excavating at a site, the landowner automatically owns any artifacts found. Because Lindenwood owns the Boone site, they have access to keeping and working with the artifacts and displaying them where they see fit. With the Blanchette location, Dasovich has an agreement to research the things they find and Plank Row Gifts will display any of the more interesting pieces.
“This is not meant to be secret or hidden so nobody know what it is,” Dasovich said. “It’s their history… and we want them to understand the value of archeology by looking at the past. The stuff doesn’t lie, people do.”