Michael Meyer received his undergraduate degree in anthropology, with an emphasis in archaeology and a minor in mathematics, from the University of Missouri – Columbia. Following his graduation, he attended the graduate program at Florida State University, and subsequently began working for the National Park Service, Southeast Archaeological Center. During his tenure there, Michael worked on a variety of prehistoric and historical sites, and directed the archaeological fieldwork at the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site in South Carolina. After receiving his Master’s degree in 1999, he accepted a position with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Cultural Resources Section. Since 2005, Michael has been directing a series of projects in the St. Louis area, including investigations for the newly-constructed Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge and the ongoing work on the Poplar Street Bridge. Michael’s research focuses include the colonial period of the U.S. southeast, urban archaeology, and the study of health and sanitation in nineteenth-century America.

250 Years of History: Images from St. Louis

250 Years of History: Excavating Colonial St. Louis

In 1763, a small group of French traders made their way up the Mississippi River and established a settlement that would become Saint Louis. This colonial village, unfortunately, has been lost to time and urban development, as the city of Saint Louis has grown around and over it. However, just in time for the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city, archaeologists with the Missouri Department of Transportation have found the first evidence of these earlier settlers. Now, let me welcome you to a day of archaeology at the Poplar Street Bridge project in the heart of Saint Louis, Missouri.

French ceramics

Eighteenth-century artifacts recovered from under the Poplar Street Bridge.

Since February 2012, we have been conducting archaeological investigations around the downtown area, preparing for a variety of road and highway construction project. Today (July 10, 2014), marks the end of the 27th week of fieldwork (including remote sensing, testing, and full data recovery) on what has quickly become two of the most significant archaeological sites we have ever identified.

Excavation of the Madam Haycraft Site.

Excavation of the Madam Haycraft Site.

Despite widely held belief, archaeological field work is showing that a surprisingly large amount of colonial Saint Louis remains buried and intact in the downtown area. Working in less-than-ideal conditions, we find that each new area that is exposed by our excavation is better than the last. As we carefully work by hand, with shovel and trowel, our work is juxtaposed with the heavy construction (and demolition) going on just a few meters away.