By Coggin Heeringa, Program Director/Naturalist, Crossroads at Big Creek
Crossroads at Big Creek, in collaboration with the Door County Historical Society, will add Experimental Archaeology to the Spring Archaeology Experience this year. On the afternoons of Friday, May 21, Monday, May 24 and Tuesday, May 25, we will offering historical demonstrations and be conducting tours of the historic Hanson House at the Hanson Norwegian Homestead, 2022 Utah Street in Sturgeon Bay.
To many people, archaeology is an “Indiana Jones”-style adventure/treasure hunt. Some think of it as digging up and collecting arrowheads. It’s actually so much more. Archaeology involves the systematic excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts. And it involves biology, chemistry, geology, and environmental systems. In essence, archaeology allows us to understand what life was like for people of various cultures in the past.
The Crossroads archaeology program has centered on what is called The First People of The Cove. Crossroads would like to know what daily life was like for the native people who maintained seasonal settlements at The Cove Preserve along the Big Creek Estuary thousands of years ago, and learn about the first European settlers who built a log home just upstream from Crossroads in 1856.
This information is culturally interesting, but it also will inform Crossroads’ restoration efforts, and perhaps add to our knowledge about such topics as native species, climate change, fluctuating lake levels, and the evolution of technology.
Experimental Archaeology is an academic field of study in which researchers create replicas of tools and weapons in order to figure out how they work. For some, this is an exacting, highly scientific career. For others like people involved in living history or reenactments, it can be an fascinating hobby. Many professional archaeologists engage in experimental archaeology to enhance their understanding of the cultures they are studying.
During Experimental Archaeology programs, a team of archaeologists will be on hand to demonstrate the use of First Nation tools and hunting weapons. Representatives from the Madden Tool Museum will demonstrate some of the logging, farming and building tools which would have been used by early European settlers.
Stop by the Hanson House, 2022 Utah Street, between 3:30 and 4:30 am on May 21, 24 or 25. for house tours and demonstrations. No registration is necessary. “Archaeology by Appointment” sessions are offered for kids and adults interested in a free 45-minute archaeological dig experience.
Habitat Healers continue to meet on Tuesdays from 4:30-6:30 am and on Saturdays from 9:30-11:30 am This week, these Crossroads volunteers will be planting trees. No registration necessary. Meet at Crossroads’ Workshop at 2041 Michigan St.
Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve is located at 2041 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Crossroads is a 501(c)3 organization committed to offering education, conducting research and providing outdoor experiences to inspire environmental stewardship in learners of all ages. We welcome your support! Become a member of Crossroads by mailing your support to P.O. Box 608, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, or donate online at www.crossroadsatbigcreek.org