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News from the Hilltop

April 28, 2008

Rare archeology field class taught at Birmingham-Southern

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern College Professor of Biology Jeanette Runquist is leading a class of 20 BSC students on a field archeology dig on the premises at Turkey Creek in Pinson. It is the first time an archeology class has been taught at the college in about 10 years, and the previous class was a traditional lecture course with a lab component.

The group of students and their professor first selected what is known as an area of promise at Turkey Creek, which means there was some indication of undisturbed items still intact.

From an archeologists point of view, says Runquist, “the items are in danger of being destroyed by the use of the preserve as a recreational area and local rubbish dump.”

Before digging began, the group had to lay out a grid and the young archeologists had to learn how to properly use shovels. They spend three hours twice a week to travel and work the site. All artifacts are brought back to campus for cleaning and identification.

The team of students has uncovered remnants of the foundation of a house that dates back to the Civil War. They also found very old brick fragments believed to belong to an out building.

Other items uncovered include pieces of English pottery; some blue, brown and white pottery that is likely American; and lots of metal fragments.

“There used to be an old mill there that was washed away by a flood in the 1800s,” Runquist said. “We identified a rubbish pile from that structure.”

The current class, under way this spring and to be taught again next spring, is rare at a small liberal arts college. Field courses of this nature are typically only offered at large universities that offer archeology and/or anthropology majors.

Runquist says the diverseness of students is also rare in this type of field class. Of the 20 students enrolled in the course, less than half are science majors. The other students' majors cross a wide range of disciplines including history, international business, psychology, Spanish, education and computer science.

BSC students in the class are: Natalie Bonner, a senior from Cullman; Tyler Brown, a junior from Pulaski, Tenn.; Mallory Burns, a senior from Bessemer; Apryl Davis, a senior from Morris; Louis Dell'Italia, a sophomore from Homewood; Laura Fore, a senior from Panama City, Fla.; Kelly Gronemeyer, a sophomore from Muscle Shoals; Sydney Hawk, a junior from Union Grove; Marcia Howington, a senior from Covington, Ga.; Kaleigh Hussey-Tomich, a senior from Caldwell, N.J.; Sara Juliana, a junior from Hoover; Kristen Kerr, a senior from Andalusia; Matt Maloy, a freshman from Lexington, Ky.; Harriet Anne Marston, a senior from Leeds; Haley Mills, a sophomore from Fayette; David Parks, a senior from Huntsville; Miles Philipp, a senior from Trussville; Noopur Vakharia, a senior from Hartselle; Jordan Whetstone, a sophomore from Anniston; and Whitney Williams, a senior from Gardendale.

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