Monday, August 06, 2018


Nine thousand years ago, a group of men sat around a fire in what now is the NewBo neighborhood and repaired their hunting spears.
That’s what the evidence — ancient soil, spearheads and flint and charcoal fragments — tells research archaeologist David Benn. As one of the team members from Bear Creek Archaeology, he helped uncover the prehistoric remnants of human activity during an archaeological dig at the corner of Second Street SE and 11th Avenue SE.

The dig site was a 200-square-meter hole in the middle of a city parking lot, where for six weeks a team of archaeologists painstakingly scraped the soil, searching for chip stone — flakes of chert, or silica-rich rock sometimes called flint — used to make spearheads. They found hundreds of pieces, as well as a handful of intact spearpoints. Those elicited great excitement.

The dig was related to levee work planned as part of the city’s flood control system.

“We have to have environmental clearance before we get federal funding,” said Rob Davis, flood control system program manager with the city of Cedar Rapids. “We wanted to clear the corridors (along the river) and have them ready to go when funding becomes available.” The city is working with the Army Corps of Engineers, which did a study of the riverbanks in 2011 and reported there could be historically significant artifacts in the area. The city then hired Cresco-based Bear Creek Archaeology to do further studies. The archaeology work in the NewBo lot cost $300,000.

This isn’t the first work Bear Creek has done in the city since 2011. They did a geological map of the valley around the river, which has moved back and forth over the area throughout time, and drilled exploratory holes throughout the footprint. Last year, they excavated a site behind the African American Museum of Iowa, where they found arrows, pottery and other artifacts from about 2,200 years ago.

In the new site, their drilling found “postglacial soil,” from around 10,000 B.C., Benn said. They dug a test hole and turned up an ancient projectile point, from a time when humans were first settling this part of North America.


Post a Comment

<< Home