Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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Article excerpt

Chris Swope, a junior at Fort Zumwalt South High School, spent his summer digging into history on an archeological dig sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Chris was among 35 students awarded a scholarship by the Foundation to attend a six-week camp of the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville, Ill.

Chris learned about the dig through his school. He wrote an essay about the value of studying the past as part of his application and won a $600 scholarship.

"I've always been interested in archeology," he said, "but I didn't know that much about it, so I wanted to go on a dig to see if I'd like it."

For the first three weeks of camp, Chris and the other students dug for historic artifacts on a farm outside of Kampsville just across the Mississippi River from St. Charles County. The farmer who owned the land noticed that "every time he plowed around his walnut trees he found artifacts such as arrow heads and things like that," Chris said. "He wanted to know what he had on his farm, so he called the center, and they took a look at all he had found."

Archeologists at the center determined that artifacts found at the farm site, called the Evie Site, dated between 880 and 1300 to a period of time they call the Late Woodland Jersey Bluff Phase.

During the second half of camp, the students researched their findings from the site to determine how old they were. Chris and his partner analyzed pottery shereds they found at the Evie site and compared them to carbon-dated pottery pieces previously found in that part of Illinois. Carbon dating is used by professional archeologists to determine the age of materials that contain carbon by use of the radiation rate of carbon 14. After comparing the type, clay, color and thickness of their pottery fragments to the carbon-dated fragments, Chris and his partner determined that some of them dated between 600 and 800 to the Late Woodland Early Bluff Phase. …

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