Seven SUNY Oneonta students spent a month digging into the past and honing skills for the future during the Pine Lake Archaeological Field School, now in its 19th year.
A collaborative effort between SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College, the Archaeological Field School introduces students to the basic methods archaeologists use to identify, excavate, record and interpret archaeological sites. SUNY Oneonta provides most of the equipment, while Hartwick provides the place - Pine Lake Environmental Campus, located in West Davenport.
Participants included Raynella Clarke of Richfield Springs.
Tucked away in a field nestled between Pine Lake and Charlotte Creek, students worked each day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., sifting through excavated dirt and searching for evidence of ancient hunter-gatherer communities in an area believed to have been a gathering place for Native American people thousands of years ago. The school drew students from SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Albany, SUNY Buffalo and Syracuse University.
This is the only pre-historic field school in the region, according to SUNY Oneonta Anthropology Professor Renee Whitman, who started the field school in 2003 and co-directs it now. It's also one of the only field schools where students spend time in the field and in the lab, processing found artifacts, analyzing and completing data entry.
Over the years, Archaeological Field School students have found hundreds of artifacts, from 4,000-year-old cooking hearths to fire pits, and more. This year, students found hundreds of flakes of chert (a type of rock used to make tools and weapons,) pieces of pottery, nutting stones and a full projectile point, known to most as an arrowhead. They also found quartz that's not local to the region, indicating that it had been traded.
When they're not in the field or the lab, students cook and have meals together, hang out and stay in cabins at Pine Lake.