Mississippi - De Soto NF
Excavations up along Whiskey Creek
The woods surrounding the sites
March 21-24; 26-31; April 2-4, 2018 (including weekends)
Must commit to one entire session; may participate in more
Please join us on the De Soto National Forest as we excavate two prehistoric sites that sit on the first terrace overlooking a tributary of Whiskey Creek! The wilds of the Whiskey Creek drainage have been surveyed, but little to no excavation has ever been done here. The importance of the area is that Whiskey Creek drains approximately 32,000 acres of the De Soto National Forest (8.3% of total land base), and is one of the only principle drainages that flows into the relatively pristine Pascagoula River. On the prehistoric landscape, this network would have been a primary source of food and other resources, travel, and communication.
We'll be testing two Middle Woodland (ca. B.C. 200–A.D. 600) sites: the "Leaning Tree of Death," and "Pot Stop." "Leaning Tree of Death," the larger of the two, is positioned right between and just beyond two, adjoining, spring-fed drainages. "Pot Stop" is just to the southwest, overlooking one of the spring fed drainages before the joining. We firmly believe both sites are somehow linked to each other and to several comparable prehistoric sites along the drainage. These two sites appear to have similar artifact assemblages, including pottery and stone tools. This season, we will excavate the two sites for objects and features that may help determine the precise relationship among the two sites and other sites in this area. Specifically, we'll study the sites for traces of in-ground cooking ovens and fire spots. Our work at the two sites will also be the first of several steps in defining them for placement on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
We'll be working on a wooded strip of Forest Service land, essentially in the middle of nowhere! We'll be walking to the sites from a gravel/dirt road. The way to the site areas involves walking a long distance along a temporary trail through the woods, and supplies and equipment will have to be packed in, but it will all be worth it! If you're able to laugh, have fun, and listen to bad jokes by the archaeologist (when he has good "bad" ones), then this project is for you – we hope to see you this spring for another unique excavation opportunity!
Please note: in addition, for a small, select group, we'll continue the project in the lab from April 5–6, 2018. The lab facility is small, and intense lab work is not for everybody. Only experienced lab workers need to stay! However, folks can also stay and assist by re-filling excavation units, and fixing used tools during this time.
Number of openings: 25
Special skills: Volunteers must be physically capable of hiking a minimum of 1/4 mile over a rough, temporary trail every day in fluctuating temperatures, and must be physically capable of kneeling and sitting for extended periods each day; previous archaeological excavation, mapping, laboratory, artifact identification (esp. Middle Woodland) experience helpful, but not required
Minimum age: 18 years old
Facilities: Developed RV, tent, and cabin camping/lodging available at Paul B. Johnson State Park; RV hook-ups, water, bath house; fees will apply; very crude facilities in nearby forest available at no charge; Wiggins and Hattiesburg are full-service communities with hotels/motels, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities; volunteers responsible for own lodging/personal camping equipment, food, water during work hours, and transportation
Nearest towns: Brooklyn, 16 miles; Wiggins, 19 miles; Hattiesburg, 40 miles
Applications due: January 22, 2018