Off to a great start at CUVA

by: Eric Olson

The first two weeks of my internship at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CUVA) have been a real whirlwind, leading me all over the park and meeting so many new people who keep the Park running on a daily basis. Within the first week I probably read about 200 pages! Some people read fiction in their free time, I read archaeological reports. I also got to go outside and see first-hand some of the sites I had been reading about. It is one thing to read about an archaeological site and see it on a topographic map, but it is a very different perspective in person.

The projects I will be working on at CUVA are playing to my strengths. Heading into this internship, I was coming off of a yearlong AmeriCorps service with the Ohio History Connection and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. I had spent a lot of time over the past year documenting archaeological sites that had not been formally reported in Summit County. Some of the sites I had added had turned out to be in CUVA, though not in their management.

Using these skills I had picked up during my year of AmeriCorps service, my supervisor gave me two boxes full of artifacts that were recently discovered by visitors to the park. My task for the week was to analyze the objects and write short descriptions including temporally diagnostic attributes about each of the artifacts. I spent a lot of time in the lab using Munsell Color charts, calipers, and scales. It was a lot of fun since I enjoy delving deep into historical research and finding provenience to artifacts.

One of the artifacts I examined was a Woodland (1000 B.C.—A.D. 1000) gorget made of slate. The prehistory of the Cuyahoga Valley is diverse and rich, full of odd cultural patterns that sometimes do not conform to archaeological trends in Ohio. For example, earthwork building really takes off in the Cuyahoga Valley after the Hopewell culture (A.D. 1—400). Based on the location of this gorget, it seems likely that it was manufactured by someone during the Late Woodland (A.D. 400-1000) or Late Prehistoric (A.D. 1000-1650) periods.

Starting next week, I’ll be diving into the historical research and previous investigations a few new sites around the park.

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