St. Charles Community College students found evidence of houses, refuse pits, burned limestone and food processing activities, including items like projectile points, pieces of pottery and tools. The students were studying archaeology in SCC’s field school, Anthropology 201, in the 2013 Summer Semester, digging at an archaeological site known as the Bruno site in the St. Peters Sports Center Park, located north of Interstate 70.
“The artifacts they found are from the Mississippian time period, around A.D. 1300,” said Anne Griffith, adjunct instructor of archaeology. “The Mississippian culture is one that has a really strong foothold in the Midwest, especially in Missouri and Illinois.”
Griffith said the findings were similar to previous excavations at the site.
“On a large scale, around this time, people had been settling down into larger groups or communities and they were also interested in more exotic goods for trading,” Griffith said. “There's a source of chert, the type of rock used to make a lot of stone tools, near the Bruno site, plus its location near the river bottoms made it a likely and strategic place for trading to occur on a local level, exchanging tools, crops or even raw materials like chert.”
Griffith also pointed out the field school is a great opportunity for community college students because they get hands-on experience at an affordable cost.
“When the students actually get to be out shoveling dirt every day, they can tell if the field of archaeology is right for them,” she said.
Four SCC students participated in the summer field school. Jennifer Armstrong, of St. Charles, said she fell in love with the field when she took a previous anthropology class at SCC, and changed her major. Armstrong has three children and plans to pursue a degree in anthropology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“My favorite part is learning about who was here at that time, why they did what they did and what normal life was like for the people then,” Armstrong said.
Harlee Custer, of St. Ann, said she has been interested in paleontology and anthropology since she was young, and wants to go into forensic anthropology. “I want to be like “Bones” someday,” she said, in reference to the FOX TV show of the same name.
The field school was offered this summer due to student interest. The last time the field school at SCC was offered was in 2007.
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