CMU students dig up real-world archaeology experience in Emmet County

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Central Michigan University welcomes reporters to Emmet County June 17 and 18 to dig up the dirt on the real-world experience anthropology students are getting as part of the Archaeological Field Methods summer course.
 
Uncovering the past
Approximately 10 CMU anthropology students will conduct hand excavation of the foundations of a former barn that was once a part of the McGulpin Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse, built in 1869, was the first light station on the south side of the Mackinac Straits. This is the second year CMU students will be conducting excavation in Emmet County. In 2012, CMU faculty member Sarah Surface-Evans says students found a variety of cultural materials dating between 1869 and 1906 when the lighthouse operated, including refuse from food containers and animal bones, construction debris from the barn, toys left by the keeper's children, and tools used by the keeper.

Real-world opportunities right down the road
CMU students working on-site at the McGulpin Point Lighthouse will receive hands-on applied experience in archaeology. The Archaeological Field Methods course will give students the chance to learn necessary research skills like keeping a detailed journal of activity and creating maps. Students also will learn archaeological survey methods, how to conduct shovel tests to find structures no longer standing and how to use high-tech equipment that allows for geophysical analysis or techniques for exploring archaeological deposits without actually digging.
 
“For students who want to be an archaeologist or a field technician, most states require students to participate in a field school like this,” says Surface-Evans, teaching the summer course for the second year in a row. “It’s the equivalent of student teaching if you’re going into education or a residency if you’re going into medicine.”
 
In addition to the excavation being done at McGulpin Point Lighthouse, students also had the opportunity to work with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe at the former Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School site. Surface-Evans says conducting the course at the Boarding School is unique because most field schools do not have the opportunity to work directly with their community like CMU’s course allows them to.
 
Media Information
CMU students will be digging in Emmet County June 17 and 18 at the McGulpin Lighthouse and Headland Park.
 
Those interested in attending should contact Danny Goodwin Jr., 989-774-1072, goodw1db@cmich.edu.