|U of M students at the archaelogical dig at the Ames Plantation in Somerville, Tenn.
The U of M’s earth sciences department unearthed an Indian village during their month-long
archaeology field camp this summer in Somerville, Tenn. At the Ames Plantation, the
find included ceremonial mounds and eight to nine houses surrounded by a defensive
wall. The settlement dates back to 1100 A.D., known as the Mississippian period.
The discovery is important because it reveals people’s living habitation at the time.
“One hypothesis was that these mounds were ceremonial centers where people gathered
and then dispersed back to their farmsteads,” said Dr. Andrew Mickelson, project director
and assistant professor of earth sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences.
This find proved otherwise by being a large, permanent settlement.
Archaeologists had visited the site since the 1960s, but were unable to find anything
of significance. The U of M discovery is due in large part to a new, $20,000 piece
of equipment, a magnetometer.
“With the magnetometer, we’re able to survey a large area, almost five acres in three
or four days,” said Mickelson. “This gave us a complete picture of what was buried
beneath the surface without having to dig. Through traditional excavation means, this
would take decades.”
Click here to see a video of the dig.
— by Sara Hoover