Digging Back in Time

Author: John Monczunski

A group of Notre Dame students and area volunteers dug into local history this summer—literally. Led by anthropology professor Mark Schurr, the group worked a 16-square-meter archaeological dig along the banks of the Kankakee River in northwest Indiana. The project yielded hundreds of artifacts dating as far back as 800 B.C. The Notre Dame archaeologist termed the site the richest he has found in 14 years of work in the area.

At the site near Kouts, Indiana, Schurr’s team, which included volunteers from the Kankakee Valley Historical Society, found pottery from every known time period, from 800 B.C. to the early 19th century. Other notable artifacts included a fragment of a handmade stone pipe and seed beads dating to 1820, a spear point from 300 B.C., parts of a rare flintlock rifle, and a portion of a bone fish hook at least 800 years old.

The team also uncovered evidence of a late 19th century brick foundation or hearth of a previously undocumented structure, a stone pit lined in clay dating to 1100 A.D., and a prehistoric midden or refuse heap.