Eight thousand years ago, Minnesota looked like another world.
Prairie grasses covered the land, with trees sparse except in the extreme northeast. The landscape was extremely dry, with lakes reduced to waterholes and rivers withered to streams. Small groups of native people roamed the wild, hunting bison that were 50 percent larger than the species we know today. They camped in the river bottoms, close to water, fish and game.
Now archaeologists are getting a priceless peek at that ancient past, known as the Archaic Period, because of a rare campsite discovered along the Minnesota River in Chanhassen during a routine survey in preparation for bridge work. Read more.
Duluth, MN (Northlands Newscenter) — It will be one year ago tomorrow that lightning ignited one of Minnesota’s largest wildfires.
The Pagami Creek Fire covered 93,000 acres in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildness. Now, scientists are finding a goldmine of clues to the region’s past unearthed by the fire.
"This is what folks used to make stone tools out of in what’s now known as the boundary waters."
Thanks to the Pagami Creek Fire, Archeologist Lee Johnson’s job is a lot easier.
"A landscape that is usually covered in vegetation is open," said Johnson.
Johnson, and his team are finding stone tools that could be nine-thousand years old from the Palo Indian Era. Read more.
Recent archaeological finds near northern Minnesota’s Knife Lake may rewrite the current theories on how long human beings have lived not only in Minnesota, but much of North America.
Knife Lake straddles the border between Canada and Minnesota, with Quetoco Provincial Park to the north, and the famous Boundary Waters on the U.S. side. Professor Mark Muniz of St. Cloud State and fellow researches have been digging around there, and what they have found is fairly amazing if their dating holds up.
The Ojibwe name for what the glaciers carved from the earth is Mookomaan Zaaga’igan, while the French fur traders called it Lac des Couteaux, or Lake of Knives. Read more.
KNIFE LAKE, Minn. (AP) — The clear, deep water laps against the shores of Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park on one side and the edge of northern Minnesota wilderness on the other.
The Ojibwe name for what the glaciers created is Mookomaan Zaaga’igan, while the French fur traders called it Lac des Couteaux, or Lake of Knives. It’s on the shores of this remote lake, at least 15 miles from the nearest road and in water divided by the U.S.-Canada border, where Minnesota’s earliest history is being uncovered.
Those retreating glaciers left a scoured landscape of exposed siltstone, a silica-infused mud that hardened for millions of years into a high-quality source for Paleo-Indian stone toolmaking. And thousands of years after the last siltstone was harvested from Knife Lake quarries, researchers from St. Cloud State University are letting that stone speak for the first time about the earliest inhabitants of Minnesota. Read more.
The way archaeologist Steven Blondo looks at it, the 1918 fires in northern Minnesota aren’t only a part of this region’s history, they’re also a part of our soil.
Ever dig in your garden and find bits of burned glass, or fragments of what looks like charcoal?
“There is a marker within the soil that does date to the 1918 fire,” Blondo said. “I thought it was crazy talk when I first moved here, but it’s there. Now, if I don’t find it, I wonder why.”
Blondo said the fire layer in the soil is “awesome” from an archaeological standpoint, “because everything you find below [that layer] is pre-1918, and everything above it is after 1918.”
For those whose only knowledge of archaeology comes from watching the Indiana Jones movies, Carlton County might seem a strange place for an archaeologist to locate his family and his business. Read more.