Archaeology Then and Now
The story of life at the site can be told now because of work done more than 75 years ago. Two times, crews from federal New Deal programs excavated the site. This kind of project gave jobs to people who were out of work after the Great Depression. First, in 1938, a State Parks historian led a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project at the site. Then, two years later, an archaeologist and a Work Projects Administration (WPA) crew dug there again.
The methods at that time left some gaps in understanding. For example, compared to today, there was less focus then on finding small remains and on recording patterns in the soil. That limited the
data about food and houses. Even so, the projects gave a rare glimpse of the site as a whole. Archaeologists have found that the artifacts and records from those past projects are still very useful today.
Study of the site began in 1938, after a construction crew took shell from Midden B to use as road fill. This activity destroyed nearly one-third of the midden, but it called attention to the site. Research efforts focused on the part of the site that further road construction would destroy. The team dug with shovels and did not screen the dirt to recover smaller artifacts. The crew dug down about 2.5 feet in a single level to the top of the water table. The work did not reach the bottom of the site.
The photo below shows the site being readied for excavation in 1940 or 1941. Credit: LSU Museum of Natural Science.
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