The Archaeology of Downtown

Ever wonder what secrets of the past are buried underneath downtown St. Paul skyscrapers? How about Nicollet Mall or the U of M campus? When thinking of archaeological dig sites, it might be easy to go to extremes, imagining the cinema-friendly stereotype, an Indiana Jones-type character carefully making his way through a long-lost ancient temple in search of a jewel the size of a pillow. Perhaps not as dramatic, yet still very interesting, this Sunday archaeologist Kent Bakken will be discussing upcoming and ongoing archaeological digs around the concrete-laden areas of our cities. In conjunction with National Archaeology Week, the talk will touch on various projects, including excavations at Mill Ruins Park and in the Elliot Park neighborhood. The Elliot Park excavations are a community-based project now in its fifth year. Volunteers each year are invited to a specified site where people unearth things like broken pitchers, bits of what once was a porch, and other items kept in the backyards of the 19th-century houses that once existed in the area. Yes, history is still alive, despite sometimes being hidden beneath gravel or a slab of concrete.
Sun., May 11, 2 p.m., 2008

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