Re-opening the Book to Fort Laurenss Past: Chapter 2


When the Ohio History Connection began discussing the excavations at Fort Laurens with Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc., I decided to learn more about Dr. R. Michael Gramlys excavations. Reading Fort Laurens 1778-9: Pictorial Record of Excavations the book gives a great overview of the fort, but I was looking for more detail. Little did I know in a few weeks, I would be thrust into the middle of the new chapters that are currently being written. On May 9th, 2014 I received a phone call from the Fort Laurens site manager, that a projectile point had been discovered by Doug Angeloni, a member of the Friends of Fort Laurens. I was excited to hear of the find and eager to see the point. When it made its way to the lab I was astonished to see that it was a Lanceolate point and from the Paleoindian period. Without the base of the point we cannot definitively say exactly when the point was produced; yet it is still an exciting find and it got me thinking. What other pre-contact artifacts have been discovered at Fort Laurens? Slide2 I pulled all the notes from the Fort Laurens excavations conducted from May 1972 to April 2013. After many days and hours of reading though boxes and boxes of notes, I found that pre-contact artifacts had been found during every excavation. The artifacts consisted of projectile points, stone tools, and flint flakes, totaling to more than 3000 objects. With a personal interest in pre-contact migration routes that started back when I was working on my undergraduate, my excitement was overwhelming. I continued to search and stumbled up a report that was written in 1973 by Ian Brown (known today as Dr. Ian Brown of the University of Alabama, Department of Anthropology) on all of the pre-contact artifacts found during Dr. Gramlys excavations. Dr. Brown analyzed the artifacts and grouped them into cultural groups, manufacturing styles and material types. In addition to making an in depth table of the artifacts, Dr. Brown also mapped where the concentration of artifacts were found within the fortified area.Slide1 Slide3 Finding Dr. Browns work astonished me, because of his in depth analysis and the amount of detail that he put into the mapping of the artifacts. I was already excited to find such a large concentration of pre-contact artifacts at Fort Laurens, but to find this report! Well lets say I am speechless.  I immediately went searching for Dr. Brown and contacted him to see where his finding had been published. Sadly, only a portion of the report was published in Dr. Gramlys book Fort Laurens 1778-9: The Archaeological Record and it is only an appendix. The information of the report is there, but the maps and tables (which I believe are the best part) are missing. Dr. Gramly does show wonderful images of a few objects. Slide4 Someday I would love to see Dr. Browns work published in its entirety, along with the story of the early pre-contact people along the Tuscarawass River. We have so much still to learn about the history of Fort Laurens, but we also have a lot to learn about the first people of Ohio. We will never know all the stories, but we can enjoy the chapters as they are written.   Stay tuned for Chapter 3: Words from Dr. Ian Brown.   Kellie L. Rogers    

Posted July 10, 2014
Topics: Archaeology

eNewsletter Sign-Up