Excavations in Tortoise Heaven 2019 - Passport in Time

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Current Projects > 2019
Mississippi - De Soto NF
Closed! Excavations within a Slice of "Tortoise Heaven"

Mike_hurst_site_view1.jpg by Rob Reams, US Forest Service
Overview of “Mike Hurst” Site

October 28-November 2; November 4-9, 2019

Volunteers must commit to 1 entire session; may participate in more

Please join us on the De Soto National Forest for the continued testing of the prehistoric site "Mike Hurst!" The site sits on a high terrace overlooking U.S. Highway 98, on the edge of a main, four-lane highway. It is covered with small sandy oak trees, and is favored by the gopher tortoise. The area is one of the last ridges overlooking the floodplain of the Leaf River, which is a major body of water in south Mississippi and served as a main mode of travel for centuries.

"Mike Hurst" (B.C.E. 2,500–A.D. 1,100) is a multi-component site, where artifacts (pottery), perhaps common the region or, at least, those found at other sites on the Forest, but also pottery types and styles specific to this site. This season, we will excavate the site for objects and features that may help determine the precise relationship among other sites in the area. Specifically, we'll study the site for traces of in-ground cooking ovens and fire spots, and we'll examine recovered assemblages of ceramics and other diagnostic artifacts that may give us a clearer picture of the overall, prehistoric cultural landscape. Our work at the site will also be one of several steps in defining the site for placement on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

We'll be working on a wooded strip of Forest Service land in the northern part of the District, and we'll be walking to the site from the highway. The way to the site involves walking a short distance, but up a steep hill, and supplies and equipment will have to be packed in. But, it will all be worth it! If you're able to laugh, have fun, and listen to bad jokes by the archaeologist (when he has a good "bad" one), then this project is for you–we hope to see you this fall for another unique excavation opportunity!

Number of openings: 20 (10 per session)

Special skills: Volunteers must be physically capable of hiking a short distance (~1 /16th of a mile), but up a steep hill every day, in fluctuating temperatures, and must be physically capable of kneeling, bending, and sitting for extended periods each day; previous archaeological excavation, artifact identification, site mapping, photography, and/or sketching experience helpful, but not required

Minimum age: 18 years old

Facilities: Developed RV and tent camping available at Lake Perry State Park (closest); RV hook-ups, water, bath house, developed RV, tent, and cabin camping available at Paul B. Johnson State Park & Flint Creek Water Park; fees will apply; very crude facilities in nearby forest; Wiggins and Hattiesburg are full-service communities with hotels/motels, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for own lodging/personal camping equipment, food, water during working hours, and daily transportation to and from work site

Nearest towns: Beaumont, 2 miles; New Augusta, 8 miles; Hattiesburg & Wiggins, 25 miles

Applications due: August 26, 2019

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