Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Vagabonding through ancient England with Fred Christensen


Mr. Fred Christensen brings to our October 28th meeting special insights acquired and nurtured by a military sojourn. He retired after 28 years in the US Army Re-serves (including 5 years of active duty) as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1997, and pursued a second career in academe as a history teacher, University of Kentucky and other teaching assignments as well as numerous adult educational activities.

Mr. Christensen's approach to his subject is that of a scintillating travel/archaeological journey into the past.

England's heartland river is exceptionally rich in archaeological finds. From its source in the Cotswold past gravel beds revealing artifacts of all eras, through much-excavated Lon-don, to sites like Swanscombe near the estuary, the Thames has yielded evidence of half a million years of human activity.

Fred Christensen has hiked the full length of the Thames, filming it for class presentations, and will dis-cuss its archaeological heritage in this talk. He will emphasize the area around Dorchester, south of Oxford, with artifacts and earthworks from every era of prehistory. Paleolithic hand axes, neoithic henges, Celtic hillforts and Roman towns will all make their appearances in this presentation.

The CAS will meet at 3:00 pm at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington. admission is free and open to the public.

Can you dig this?

The huge Gast Farm is the result of the leveling of mounds

Dr. William Green, Director of the Logan Museum European Paleolithic Collection on the Beloit College campus in Wisconsin, was the CAS September 2018 guest speaker. CAS Summer Safaris have twice visited Beloit College to explore its on-campus Indian Mounds.

In his presentation Dr. Green opened a new archaeological chapter. It was an awesome leap from the French Paleolithic to the Amerindian Woodland. We were able to learn from him this time, not as an expert on paleolithic French artifacts, but as an archaeological investigator at the Gast Farm site in eastern Iowa.

The huge Gast Farm site is the result of the leveling of mounds in preparation for farming by
Dan Gast. Mr. Gast was astonished to discover that a magnificent collection of copper axes,
pieces of mica and platform pipes were found where a large mound had been leveled. It was
“a Howard Carter moment”, Bill explained. Dan Gast invited the archaeologists onto his property
and has been supportive for all investigations since. He has tried to remember where other smaller mounds existed.

Bill Green has been leading investigations at the site for 28 years using traditional methods
along with just about every new technique that has become available. Early into the investigation,
Bill took photographs from a low flying plane in his pursuit of a reconstruction of what the
site may have looked like. These photos were taken at an oblique angle that had to be mathematically
translated into an accurate perpendicular picture.

For a sampling aerial experience the reader is invited to link

Besides careful accurate excavations, seed sampling, and ceramic sherd collecting, magnetic
gradient, laser and thermal techniques have been extensively employed. It was exciting to see
the use of new devices unpeeling, one layer at a time, a clear picture of, not one, but two cultures!

Under a large mound the discovery ritual objects suggested Ritual objects or materials for
producing ritual objects or were imported from long distances. They probably were for more
important burials. Plant cultivation of many crops were discovered.

Habitation was in large structures not family oriented houses. changes Persons would have
lived in larger structures. Ceramics were quite intricate.

Another site in the area was a Late Woodland village site with a different arrangement around a plaza and a different diet. Darts were produced perhaps for bow and arrow deer hunting. Everything was more localized suggesting a subsistence culture with families in individual houses. Ceramics were

Thank you Dr. William Green for a scintillating and memorable afternoon. All meetings and
activities are free and open to the public.

By Deb Stelton

The Search for a lost relative

What ever happened to the “Missing Link?”

Travel to England has been a popular destination for many reasons. London with its glittering nightlife and its museums attracts large audiences…. enough to keep a visitor busy for weeks on end. Beyond London idyllic sites like the Cotswolds continue to draw hordes of visitors.

As illustrated by Fred Christensen the traveler is never far from ancient England and English archaeology.

But do you know the story of Her majesty’s hoax? The Nineteenth and early twentieth witnessed
a series of remarkable hominid fossil discoveries: Neanderthals, Java and Peking Man and others. Adherents of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species 1871 believed that the proof human evolution had become fact.

There was, however, a problem. Final proof required a bridge, a missing link, if you will, to complete the evidentiary chain of savage beast to CroMagnon.

Help was on its way. In 1912 an amateur archaeologist, Charles Dawson, announced his discovery of fossil remains of a human skull, jaw & teeth. Dawson dubbed his discovery “Piltdown Man “and England, momentarily basked in the honor of being home of the oldest hominid and possessing
the fossils of the one and only “Missing Link.”

The hoax of Piltdown Man, for a fake it was, wasn’t disclosed until 1953 fifteen years after the Death of Dawson. As for the malefactor? That name remains lost in time…as does the Missing Link.
For more about this tale lies and deception watch the Nova documentary The Boldest Hoax.

The hoax of Piltdown Man, for a fake it was, wasn’t disclosed until 1953 fifteen years after the Death of Dawson. As for the malefactor? That name remains lost in time…as does the Missing Link. For more about this tale lies and deception watch the Nova documentary The Boldest Hoax.