This is a video submission for the Day of Archaeology submitted by the Illinois State Archaeological Survey-American Bottom Field Station (ISAS-ABFS). The primary function of the ABFS is to conduct research based on excavations mandated by law for transportation related projects, and conduct public outreach across the state and region relating our findings. Since the ABFS’s area of responsibility includes the Metro East communities of St. Louis, Missouri we often have to conduct research related to large-scale transportation infrastructure improvements. This area also includes the Native American city of Cahokia and its related communities, which means that sites ranging the spectrum of very large villages/urban precincts to small farmsteads have to be investigated when they cannot be avoided by the planned construction. Given the scale of many of our past projects we have a large staff at the ABFS and rather than just give you an example of one persons day, I thought it would be good to show you a typical day at our field station. I have provided a link to the ISAS website and the video on Youtube. Enjoy.
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.
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.
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.