The Sifting for Technology program existed at the Crystal River Archaeological State Park for more than a decade, providing an introduction to students of all ages to the methods of archaeological excavation. Originally created from dredge spoil, dug from an adjacent boat slip, the pile of heavily mixed modern and prehistoric material was shaped to resemble midden Mound H. Much of the archaeological material found within the spoil pile might have originated from Mound A after it was partially bulldozed and spread to provide a foundation for a trailer park, or was displaced by other, modern land altering operations on the property. Its original context has been long destroyed.
Last year, after recommendations from FPAN archaeologists and Gulf Archaeological Research Institute (GARI), a local non-profit archaeological research center, we suspended the long-running program over multiple concerns including general confusion by park visitors about the education area. For the past year the mound has been untouched and continued to confuse park visitors.
This past week, Dr. Tom Pluckhahn, professor of archaeology at University of South Florida, brought a group of undergraduate and graduate students up to the Crystal River site to begin an archaeological field school to start fully excavating the spoil pile formerly known as the Sifting for Technology Educational Area. Dr. Pluckhahn began the Crystal River Early Village Archaeological Project (CREVAP) in 2011 as a three year National Science Foundation research grant. Though the Sifting for Technology project doesn’t fall under CREVAP – the information gleaned will certainly add to the wealth of knowledge about the site.
Working with the Florida Park Service, FPAN helped acquire a 1A-32 Archaeological Research Permit for the field school and excavations from the Division of Historical Resources. FPAN’s participation in the field school is limited to assisting Dr. Pluckhahn and students and providing logistical help with tools, park access, and lots of cold water…it’s summertime in Florida as we know. Following completion of the field school, FPAN Central will begin a monthly, volunteer archaeology lab program to continue the excavations until we have worked through the spoil pile. Be sure to stay tuned to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FPANcentral/) for more information about how you can participate.