From the Field to the Museum - UAMN Research Assistant Sam Coffman and his colleagues discussed last summer’s ASRA archaeology module at the Alaska Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in Fairbanks this week. “We’ll be reporting on the students’ archaeological discoveries, along with their involvement at the site.”

This popular Alaska Summer Research Academy module lets high school-aged kids get their hands dirty digging for artifacts while learning the techniques and principles of archaeology. They also get a taste of local history.

Last year, students explored the prehistoric Simpson site, located along the Tanana River near the Rosie Creek subdivision outside Fairbanks. The site was discovered in the 1990s when the previous land owner turned up some chipped stone flakes while digging post holes for a woodshed.

The family called the university to report the discovery and reached a professor in the UAF anthropology department who did some tests and confirmed that it was an archaeological find. It was recorded by the state, which keeps a database of sites across Alaska.

The ASRA crew returned to the site in July 2013 to open up more ground, said UAMN Archaeology Collection Manager Scott Shirar. "We want to get a bigger artifact assemblage to give us a better idea of what’s going on out here. We’re also hoping to find some organic material and get some radio carbon dates for this site."

The students found maybe a hundred artifacts, including a bi-facially flaked knife (second photo from top, at left), which got everybody fired up to do some more digging.

The presentation was part of a session called “Community-based Archaeological Heritage Management: Exploring Pathways for Effective Collaboration.”  The session examined the challenges and opportunities of delivering community cultural resource management and archaeology projects.