Theft of Time 2017 - Passport in Time

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Current Projects > 2017
Mississipi - De Soto NF
Closed! Theft of Time: Checking Behind Looters

Marthcreek.jpg by Rob Reams, US Forest Service Archaeologist
Marth Branch, nearby spring fed drainage

March 20-25; 27-April 1, 2017

Must commit to one full session; may participate in more*

The fascination brought on by items of antiquity has been part of human culture for as long as there have been humans. This has led to the passage of laws and penalties, even coverage in various forms of media to thwart it. However, even with all of these “blockades” in place, the allure of finding artifacts and possessing them can turn to out-right stealing and vandalism, thus destroying valuable information from fragile resources; in short: stealing time! Last year (2016) was a tough year for the De Soto National Forest for this kind of damage.

As such, the De Soto National Forest is calling for your aid to test two prehistoric sites that have suffered from a theft of time! These multi-component (ca. B.C. 6500 – A.D. 1300) sites: "Swamp Child," and "Spanish Moss." These sites appear to have been hit the hardest by the local looters. "Swamp Child," the larger of the two, sits right above a spring fed drainage. "Spanish Moss" is just to the south overlooking the head of the drainage. During this project, we will excavate the sites for objects and features that may help determine the precise relationship among themselves and among other sites in this area. Our work at the two sites will also be the first of several steps in defining them for placement on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). We'll be working in a wooded area north of Ashe Nursery, and walking to the sites in an indirect way, so as to mislead local observers. The way to the site areas involves walking a long distance along a temporary trail through the woods, and supplies and equipment will have to be packed in, but it will all be worth it! And, if you're able to laugh, have fun, and listen to bad jokes by the archaeologist (when he has a good one or two), then this project is for you!

*In addition, there will be a small, but intensive lab project set up for a small group (5 volunteers). The lab will run from April 3-5, 2017. The lab facility is small, and intense lab work is not for everybody, so we will be offering the lab only to the more experienced participants. More detailed information will be provided to interested selectees during the course of the project.

Number of openings: 35* (15 per field session; *5 selectees may be asked to return for the lab portion of the project)

Special skills: Volunteers must be physically capable of hiking over a ¼- mile, rough, temporary trail every day in fluctuating temperatures, and must be physically capable of kneeling and/or sitting for extended periods each day; previous archaeological excavation, survey, mapping experience, and/or previous work on the De Soto NF helpful, but not required. *For the lab work, previous experience is a must.

Minimum age: 18 years old

Facilities: Developed RV, tent, and cabin camping/lodging available at Paul B. Johnson State Park; water; RV hook-ups, bath house; fees will apply; very crude facilities available in dispersed camping areas 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 work hours, and daily transportation

Nearest towns: Project based in/near Brooklyn; Wiggins, 15 miles; Hattiesburg, 20 miles

Applications due: February 13, 2017

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