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Nov. 17, 2014

Archaeologists hold annual symposium at CSU

By Nicole Drake

Room 152 in the Science and Research Center was filled with anxious students — pens and pencils in hand, notes ready, books open, printed material in hand, ready to listen to what was about to occur.

Approximately 150 students were present — most coming from one of four anthropology classes held by professor, symposium moderator and lead field school member, Phil Wanyerka. Three students were actively participating and presenting among their peers.

The Third Annual Ohio Archaeology Symposium was held Wednesday, Nov. 5 from 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. This was a free event featuring lectures by Wanyerka, associate college lecturer in the Department of Anthropology, Cleveland Museum of Natural History Curator, Brian Redmond, Peter Dunham, professor in the Department of Anthropology, Elizabeth Hoag, Department of Anthropology at Cuyahoga County Community College and Cleveland State University along with Anthropology students Katie Fry, Rachel Daley and Kyle Riordan within the Department of Anthropology.

Nicole DrakeIntroductory remarks were announced by Dr. Maggie Jackson, interim chair of Anthropology at Cleveland State.
“This is our third, and by far the biggest, so I’m thrilled to see each of you here to be a part of this celebration,” Jackson said. “This symposium is in recognition of archeology month, which was [in] October. On behalf of the entire department of anthropology, including our faculty, our staff and all of our students, we welcome you to this event.”

During the symposium, speaker Brian Redmond discussed evidence of late archaic hunting at the Burrell Orchard site in Sheffield Village, Ohio, Peter Dunham went into detail regarding the archaeology behind bank notes and the national identity from 19th century Mexico and Elizabeth Hoag presented her findings on the recent historical and archaeological research in Forest Hill Park of East Cleveland to locate the site of John D. Rockefeller’s summer home.

Professor Wanyerka was the first speaker at the event noting that this past summer he and his students were asked to go to the Shafer site to do some commercial resource management archaeology. According to Wanyerka, this type of archaelogy is the most common kind of archaeology done in the United States and, practically, in the world.

“We were asked to go investigate a particular area for a reason,” Wanyerka said. “The site we were working at was the Shafer site. The Shafer site is located in Boston Township, right in the Cuyahoga valley — it’s an archaeological site in Summit County.”

Wanyerka went on to explain that thanks to money from Cleveland State, he was able to hold his seventh straight field season, which is a partnership between the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the National Park Service and the Midwest Archeological Center, which was able to facilitate the work that was done.
Field work was done for six weeks. Students took their findings back to the lab, cleaned and cataloged all artifacts found and produced site maps. A total of 1,403 prehistoric and historic artifacts were recovered.

Of these, 464 were prehistoric items and 939 were historic items. Most were lithic tools, projectile points, debitage, prismatic bladelets, work banded slate and mammal bone.
Senior Anthropology major and field student Meredith Midura said that her experience was both informative and rewarding.

“It was my first field school experience,“ Midura said. “I can gladly say that it inspired me and made me even more [interested in] graduate school in archaeology.”

“Though field school required a lot of physical work and careful attention to detail, it was rewarding and great practical experience,” Midurda said.

Senior Anthropology major and field student Kyle Riordan said this was his his second year in the Cleveland State Archaeology field school.

“It’s very a engaging method of learning seeing as we are out in the field performing and practicing all aspects of an archaeological excavation,” Riordan said.

Riordan said that working with Dr. Wanyerka in field school helped him realize his aspirations were worthwhile.

“[As] an aspiring archaeologist in academia, this class has confirmed for me that I have chosen the right career path for myself.”