Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where Civilization Ended

European settlement of the Midwest is best reconstructed through historical archaeology.

Guest speaker for March 2014, Dr. Michael S. Nassaney, will retrace a page from the European view of the history of the American frontier and will report on the Fort St. Joseph archaeological project.

Dr. Nassaney has directed the annual Western Michigan Universi-ty archaeological field school at Fort St. Francis, now in its 34th year, since 1994.

In past years the CAS has been able to rediscover some of Chicago’s forgotten history, i.e. that of Fort Dearborn. But whatever re-mains of Chicago’s historical sig-nature has been cemented or paved over and our scanty history is based on sketchy historical documents.

A short distance from Chicago and near to the south shore of Lake Michigan, Niles, Michigan and archaeologists have rediscov-ered Fort St. Joseph.

Built in 1691 by the French the Fort passed through the French and Indian War, Pontiac’s Conspiracy, the American Revolution, and the Northwest Indian War and capture by a Spanish Expeditionary Force from St. Louis in 1781 for several hours!

Sometime during the early 19th Century the Fort was lost.

How one goes about losing a Fort is a mystery, but lost it was until pot-hunters discovered hundreds of artifacts that are now in the Fort St. Joseph Museum. The fort was rediscovered during an archaeological survey in 1998.

Dr. Nassaney’s research interests include historical archaeology and the study of colonialism and the fur trade in the western Great Lakes.

Dr. Nassaney contends that the early European settlement of the Midwest is best reconstructed through historical archaeology—a multidisciplinary approach that employs information from both documentary sources and material remains.

For some research questions, documents are nearly mute, enhancing the importance of the archaeological record.

The fusion of archaeology and history is logical juxtapositioning of knowledge. The reader will be well rewarded by Dr. Nassaney’s introduction to his reconstruction of Fort St. Joseph.

For video information about Fort St. Joseph you can follow these YouTube links:
History of Fort St. Joseph 
Public Archaeology at Fort St. Joseph
Militia Muster at Fort St. Joseph