Underwater Archaeology in Kentucky’s Rivers

I was fifteen feet under the surface of the Kentucky River, and it was pitch black except for the beam of my flashlight. Even with the light, I could see only a few inches through the muddy water. I had heard all the stories of catfish the size of Volkswagens. I could be right next to one for all I knew. I wasn’t thinking about … Continue reading Underwater Archaeology in Kentucky’s Rivers

The Myth of Kentucky As A “Dark and Bloody Ground”

The Myth of the “Dark and Bloody Ground”1 asks us to believe that before people of European and African descent arrived in Kentucky, Native peoples had hunted and fought over the land and its resources, but had never lived permanently anywhere in the Commonwealth.  WHAT?   This enduring fallacy about Kentucky’s indigenous inhabitants – The Myth of the Dark and Bloody Ground – is a … Continue reading The Myth of Kentucky As A “Dark and Bloody Ground”

Amateur Archaeology: Collecting and Curating Our Past

My grandmother recently sent me pictures of various Native American artifacts that her father-in-law had collected from the farm fields of southern Michigan. “What can you tell me?” she asked. It’s a common question, and one that archaeologists are often asked anytime they are shown an artifact collection. The collections are often exquisite examples of Native American lithic technology and early frontier resourcefulness. Unfortunately, all … Continue reading Amateur Archaeology: Collecting and Curating Our Past

Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site

Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site provides archaeological opportunities throughout the year for visitors, schools, teachers, and scouts to learn about the site’s history and culture.  The site is situated along a bluff by the Mississippi river in western Kentucky and is a prehistoric village of the Mississippian culture, dating 1100 to 1350 A.D.  The mounds in Wickliffe were first excavated by a private owner in … Continue reading Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site

Technology and Archaeology

Technology is becoming an increasingly important part of archaeological investigation. Not only can it provide us with an aerial perspective, but also allows us to locate archaeological features without digging, thus saving time, money, and precious cultural resources. Luckily for us, through the power of the technologies available such as aerial imagery either from aircraft or drones, geophysical survey, and geospatial analysis, among others, we … Continue reading Technology and Archaeology


We all know our world is increasingly interconnected. Basic items such as bread and milk can come from a couple states over, our clothing from the country north or south of ours, and even something as simple as a hammer sitting under your sink is manufactured in a country an ocean and several thousand miles away. Truly though, this type and scale of trading material … Continue reading WHY IS ARCHAEOLOGY IMPORTANT?


As time goes by some things that were difficult to recognize, to see, to comprehend, become visible and understandable.  The past requires us to look backwards.  Archaeologists in particular spend a lot of time looking backwards.  When I reflect on my career path and look back from the beginning until now, some important things come into relief.  My aim with this blog for “30 Days … Continue reading Perspective.

Archaeology and Documentary Art at Davis Bottom

Why Documentary Art? Documentary art is created to represent lifestyles or events of the past, provoke lively discussions, and generate questions. Teaching Through Documentary Art: Lessons for Elementary and Middle School Social Studies Teachers (http://arch.as.uky.edu/) is an on-line resource of innovative lessons linked to documentary art: two murals featured in the award-winning documentary Davis Bottom, Rare History, Valuable Lives. Developed with Kentucky teachers in mind, … Continue reading Archaeology and Documentary Art at Davis Bottom

Whiskey, Archaeology, and Things That Will Never Be Excavated

Ivor Noel Hume once found 47 wine bottles filled with cherries during an excavation of a tavern at Colonial Williamsburg. While it is fun to think about, I’m fairly sure that I will never find a jug of whiskey on an early Kentucky farm distillery (sealed “dusties” from industrial distilleries are a different story). At the Jouett / Buck distillery (beginning around 1790), Jack was … Continue reading Whiskey, Archaeology, and Things That Will Never Be Excavated

History and Archaeology

I am a historian first and foremost. I spend my time in libraries and archives; I read through deed books and city directories; I survey buildings and structures (and yes there is a difference). But, I also have experience in the field as an archaeologist, albeit somewhat minimal. There is no need for me to outline the countless differences between the methodologies of these disciplines … Continue reading History and Archaeology