- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

NEW HARMONY, Ind. (AP) - In a town that was established in 1814, a person can literally “trip over artifacts,” said University of Southern Indiana senior Chynna Hall.

Hall, 23, has spent the beginning of her summer vacation in New Harmony with six fellow students in USI’s Archaeological Field School studying the town’s Native American inhabitants who occupied the area before the Harmonists came in 1814. Since the beginning of May through Thursday, the students, with guidance from USI Associate Professor of Anthropology Michael Strezewski, have worked test units around the perimeter of the Harmonist Cemetery at the corner of North and West streets to look for village areas located next to the eight cemetery mounds, the Evansivlle Courier & Press reports (https://bit.ly/1SfnwmX).

The group also surveyed inside the cemetery. No digging took place, but the program’s new resistivity meter was used to create a map based on soil mapping data showing a never-before-identified man-made berm, or raised area of earth, surrounding the Native American burial mounds within the Harmonist Cemetery. The tool was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Hall, who is a USI theater major with a minor in anthropology, said artifacts fascinate her. Having Asperger’s syndrome, she said it’s often difficult to understand the social aspects of people she interacts with, but she believes understanding people of the past is easier because she doesn’t actually have to talk to them.

“It was just really curiosity,” she said. “I wanted to know how things got from the ground to the museum. There’s so many steps. And it’s also fascinating when you see it and you touch it and think, ‘so many people have touched this.’ And the stuff they had to go through to make this. Touching history makes me emotional.”

The goal of USI’s class is to give students hands-on experience in archaeological field methods through a site excavation. Skills students learn include basic excavation techniques, mapping and artifact identification.

This year students have unearthed artifacts including pottery and chert blades from the Crab Orchard phase, about 2,000 years ago.

“I try to give the students as much practical experience in archaeology as possible using the instruments we have,” Strezewski said.

The Harmonist Cemetery doesn’t have gravestones, Strezewski said, because they believed “equal in life, equal in death.”

While the “fill dirt” used to raise yards and streets in New Harmony’s flooding areas may be difficult to dig through, Strezewski said in a way it protects and seals the archaeology below.

The summer course was Andrew Schneider’s final class with USI. Schneider, 28, majored in history with a minor in anthropology, but is planning to earn a master’s degree in anthropology at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Since anthropology is the study of man, Schneider said it can be applied to almost every aspect of life as a way to understand different cultures.

“With archaeology, it seems like there’s always a large aspect of guess work involved in it. … Since we don’t have any documentation or written records from the people we’re trying to study and understand … it involves a lot of guess work,” he said.

In the 1970s, an adjunct professor led some archaeological digs in New Harmony, but none of those materials were processed or cataloged until Strezewski started this class in 2008. In years past, the field school has focused on the Harmonist period and students have worked at Fort Quiatenon near West Lafayette.

In 2013, USI started offering a bachelor’s degree program in anthropology.

USI junior Abigail Krahling, 20, is an anthropology major with a double minor in arts and heritage and history.

“This is the coolest classroom I’ve been in,” Krahling said.

___

Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide