Environmental Archaeology Research Partnership

A Stewart and L Quackenbush at Sleeping Bear

A. Stewart and L. Quackenbush at Sleeping Bear

In 1974 and 1975 Professor William Lovis performed the original archaeological survey for what would become Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – one of Michigan’s premier tourist destinations. Lovis had an opportunity to return to Sleeping Bear during summer 2014 as part of an interdisciplinary, inter-departmental, inter-institutional partnership with the National Park Service to investigate the effects of global climate change on endangered archaeological sites – their taphonomy and preservation.

Working closely with NPS liaison Laura Quackenbush, under both Archaeological Resource Protection Act and National Environmental Policy Act permits, a team of researchers including G. William Monaghan, and Andrew Stewart performed extensive landscape reconstruction and sediment and charcoal sampling in the vicinity of precontact occupation areas dating ca. AD 700-1200. These samples are being OSL and AMS dated at Illinois State Geological Survey, with funds provided by a public/private partnership with the local business Cherry Republic, courtesy of Mr. Robert Sutherland. Wood samples from rooted trees, and dated ca. AD 1448 have been identified by Prof. Frank Telewski from MSU Plant Biology as northern white pine. Dune processes are being reconstructed by Prof. Alan Arbogast, MSU Geography.

The goal is to reconstruct the dynamic landscape evolution of the area, and predict long term effects of climate change on the future of cultural resources. Lovis and colleagues hope to continue this exciting research throughout the coming year, and use the information to enhance interpretive information available to park visitors.

This article is in the Department of Anthropology’s Spring 2015 Newsletter, see the entire newsletter here.