Woodstock School District 200 students participate in archaeological dig

D-200 art history class visits Macktown Forest Preserve in Rockton

Woodstock High School students in David Bliss’ art history class took their studies a little deeper Sept. 14 on an excursion to Macktown Forest Preserve to participate in an archaeological dig looking for prehistoric artifacts.

Jay Martinez, president of Midwest Archaeological Research Services, said his company often allows college groups and some younger kids to participate in its field research during the summer, but he worked with Bliss’ request to arrange a trip during the school year.

“We enjoy working with all age groups. It’s always fun,” Martinez said.

Midwest Archaeological Research Services examines potential development sites for signs of archaeological significance. It found a particularly rich site at Macktown in Rockton, which was a frontier town in the early 1800s and a quality sight for prehistoric Native American artifacts.

Martinez said they’ve found tools, pottery remnants and other relics from a culture that lived on the land a few thousand years ago. Woodstock students did not end the day empty-handed during their dig, either. Students found a spearhead and shavings from prehistoric toolmaking.

Senior Kamryn Bogott said the excursion was a unique experience.

“When we first got there, we could see where we’d be digging and the tools we were going use before we stepped into our hole,” she said. “We all got super excited about the spearhead. It was pretty cool.”

Junior Aiden Mason was surprised at how accessible the artifacts were.

“I thought it was weird that they were only a few inches underground, and they were like 2,000 or 3,000 years old,” he said.

Bliss said he found it interesting that so many disciplines – such as math, statistics, earth sciences and scientific research – were blended in archaeological studies, both in fieldwork and at a desk.

Senior Ashley Gray said she never realized that volunteers could participate at archaeological dig sites, and she said she might be interested in trying it again when she goes to college.

Senior Michelle Hanson said she appreciated the opportunity to do fieldwork with a real scientist.  

“We didn’t just go with a tour guide, Hanson said. “We went with someone who does this every single day.”

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