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Art history students dig for prehistoric artifacts

Photo of archaeologist talking to students

Woodstock High School students in David Bliss’s art history took their studies a little deeper Sept. 14 on an excursion to the Macktown Forest Preserve to participate in an archaeological dig for prehistoric artifacts.

Jay Martinez, president of Midwest Archaeological Research Services, said his company often allows college groups and some younger kids to participate in their field research during the summer but worked with Dr. Bliss’s request to arrange a trip during the school year.

“We enjoy working with all age groups. It’s always fun,” Martinez said.

Midwest Archaeological Research Services examines potential development sites for signs of archaeological significance. They found a particularly rich site at Macktown in Rockton, which was a frontier town in the early 1800s and a quality sight for prehistoric Native American artifacts.

Martinez said they’ve found tools, pottery remnants and other relics from a culture that lived on the land a few thousand years ago. Woodstock students didn’t come up empty during their dig either. Students found a prehistoric spearhead and shavings from prehistoric tool making. 

Senior Kamryn Bogott said the excursion was a unique experience.

“When we first got there, we could see where we’d be digging and the tools we were going use before we stepped into our hole,” she said. “We all got super excited about the spearhead. It was pretty cool.”

Junior Aiden Mason was surprised at how accessible the artifacts were.“I thought it was weird that they were only a few inches underground and they were like 2 or 3 thousand years old,” he said.

Bliss said he found it interesting that so many disciplines such as math, statistics, earth sciences and scientific research were blended in archaeological study both in field work and at a desk.

Senior Ashley Gray said she never realized that volunteers could participate at archaeological dig sites and said she might be interested in trying it again when she goes to college.

Michelle Hanson, also a senior, said she appreciated the opportunity to do fieldwork with a real scientist.  “We didn’t just go with a tour guide. We went with someone who does this every single day,” Hanson said.

Photo of student in hole   Photo of students cleaning artifacts