Site Excavation Underway
In partnership with Oregon State University (OSU) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an eight-week archaeological field school has begun at the Cooper’s Ferry site on the Salmon River at the mouth of Graves Creek near Cottonwood, Idaho. The field school, partially funded through a BLM challenge cost share agreement, will allow students from OSU and other universities, under the direction of Dr. Loren Davis, to excavate an area and gather data about how people lived in the canyon many thousands of years ago. Previous research produced data verifying human occupation of sites in the canyon dating back nearly 11,500 years ago.
The public is encouraged to stop by the field school this summer, where Dr. Davis or the students will explain how an excavation is conducted and what they are discovering. "We know that many people are interested in the history of the river canyon, just as we are," said David Sisson, BLM archaeologist. "We sometimes find some really interesting artifacts, and the various layers of sediment produce different clues that we use to piece together `generations' of past uses."
Dr. Davis, who started as a graduate student over 11 years ago with Sisson, continues to work with BLM conducting research, writing papers and bringing students to the area who continue the work.
“A schedule for the field crew has been established to allow more visitations by the public on the weekends,” stated Sisson. The crew will be working from 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday (with Monday and Tuesday off) through August 10, 2010.
Sisson also indicated that if the public is unable to visit the excavation site, there are several other ways to gain information about the historic and prehistoric settlements and uses in the river canyon. To follow the progress on the excavation, he suggests visiting the BLM website at http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/cottonwood/lower_salmon_river.html or the newly-established blog site at http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/coopersferryarchaeology.
A free downloadable booklet entitled, "Our Cultural Heritage - A Fragile Record of the Last 12,000 Years along the Lower Salmon River" is available from the website above and, for a “virtual visit” to the excavation, Sisson suggests visiting the blog site that will provide the most up-to-date information.
For more information about the archaeological field school, contact the BLM Cottonwood Field Office at 208-962-3782 or visit their office located at 1 Butte Drive in Cottonwood.