They’re digging itPublished 7:40pm Friday, July 23, 2010
When the Fort St. Joseph adult archaeological summer camp begins Monday, it won’t just be a bunch of overgrown kids digging in the dirt.
They will not only receive hand-on training in archaeological field techniques but will also learn the history behind the fort.
“They spend the first part of the day on book work and background information about archaeology and history of the fort,” said Fort St. Joseph Museum Curator Carol Bainbridge. “It’s no cakewalk.”
Western Michigan University archaeology students and faculty will teach the students.
After spending the morning studying, the students will be released to excavate at the site. They will also learn to clean, process and identify the artifacts as well.
“They will learn the full range of what an archaeologist does,” Bainbridge said. “It’s not just digging, digging, digging.”
Western Michigan University students and faculty have been unearthing pieces of Niles’ past at the archaeological dig since 1998.
The fort was built in 1691, according to Bainbridge, and operated as a fort through 1781. The structure was a stronghold of the Great Lakes fur trade during that time.
New artifacts are being discovered each summer that paint a clearer picture of what life was like 300 years ago.
But the archaeological work is not just to please history buffs; it could also prove to be a boon to the local economy.
“Economically eventually this fort project will pay off for the city and the people of Niles,” Bainbridge said. “It already is bringing in tourists.”
After the adult archaeological camp Monday through Friday, there will be a camp for junior high students Aug. 2-6. Those interested in the camp can download a registration form at www.fortstjosephmuseum.org or call the museum at (269) 683-4702.
The Fort St. Joseph Archaeology Open House is slated for Aug. 14-15.