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Unearthing the past: SIU’s archaeology summer field school continues Fort Kaskaskia work

Students from three universities, including Southern Illinois University Carbondale, are actively engaged in uncovering significant historical details about the French and American forts once visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They are participating in the annual Archaeology Field School at Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site in Randolph County. The seventh annual field school began on May 20 and will continue through June 28. Mark Wagner, director of the SIU Center for Archeological Investigations and a professor of anthropology, highlighted that this year's primary objective is to identify and map the location of a fort constructed by U.S. Army soldiers more than forty years after the original French fort at Fort Kaskaskia. The goal is to ensure its preservation for future generations.

Participants in the field school are also actively searching for additional artifacts that can enhance the understanding and narrative of the fort's history. According to Wagner, students have already unearthed various items such as uniform buttons and a potential vegetable storage pit that may have been used by soldiers stationed at the fort. These discoveries provide valuable insights into the daily lives and activities of those who inhabited Fort Kaskaskia.

The ongoing research not only contributes to academic scholarship but also plays a crucial role in preserving the cultural heritage of Fort Kaskaskia. By uncovering artifacts and documenting their findings, the team aims to safeguard and interpret the site's historical significance. This archaeological initiative underscores the importance of exploring and protecting our cultural past, ensuring that these treasures are preserved and understood for future generations to appreciate.

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