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April 1, 2014

The First Residents of Cowley County to be Celebrated at 3rd Annual Kansas Archaeology Day - University of Kansas Archaeologist to Give Keynote Address


The first residents of Cowley County, Kansas and North America will be explored and celebrated at the third annual Kansas Archaeology Day, held Saturday, April 12 in the Wright Room of Cowley College. The event will open at 9 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. The public are invited to spend an hour or all day at this free, all-ages event.



We are celebrating the first Kansas as representatives of the first Americans,” says Chris Mayer, head of Cowley Anthropology and member of the college’s Social Science faculty.  “Recent archaeology all across the America’s suggests that people were living here much earlier than we had thought, and the evidence keeps building up.”

Displays will interpret the world of the Paleo-Indians, the ancestral population to all Native Americans.  These hunter-gatherers are also known as the Clovis people, named after their distinctive spear point first discovered near Clovis, New Mexico. The displays will cover the technology, hunting techniques, genetics and travel of these first Americans, as well as their environment. Special attention will be given to Clovis sites in Kansas, and to the megafauna—the big animals like mammoth and mastodon that the Paleo-Indians hunted. Many of the displays will be hands-on.

This highlight of this year’s Kansas Archaeology Day will be the noon keynote address, to be given by Dr. Rolfe D Mandel from the University of Kansas. Dr. Mandel’s talk is entitled “The Search for Evidence of the First Humans in North America: Examples from the Central Great Plains." This presentation will focus on recent efforts to find pre-Clovis sites in the Central Great Plains. Case studies, including the Scheuerman Mammoth Site in Scott County, will be presented.

Dr. Mandel is Senior Scientist and Executive Director of the Odyssey Geoarchaeology Research Program at the Kansas Geological Survey and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Kansas. He has spent over 30 years working with archaeologists on projects throughout the United States and eastern Mediterranean, focusing on the effects of geologic processes on the archaeological record. During the past 12 years much of his research has involved the use of geoscientific methods to search for the earliest evidence of humans in the Central Great Plains and Midwest. He has received many awards and distinctions, including Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the 2011 University of Kansas Center for Teaching Excellence Award, the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 2009 John C. Wright Graduate Mentor Award, and the 2012 Kansas Board of Regents’ Haguchi/Irvin E. Youngberg Research Achievement Award. The Geological Society of America recognized his achievements with two prestigious awards: the George Rapp Award for outstanding contributions to the interdisciplinary field of archaeological geology, and the 2010 Kirk Bryan Award for Excellence.  All of the work described in his presentation has been supported by the KU Odyssey Research Program.

“We are incredibly honored and privileged to have Dr. Mandel give the keynote to Kansas Archaeology Day,” says Mayer. “His work is at the cutting edge of the investigation into the first Americans. I think everyone will enjoy his talk, and learn a great deal, too.” A lunch will be provided to those attending the noon address.

Other events include several atlal demonstrations throughout the day. The atlatl is the spear thrower used by the Paleo-Indinas for hunting big game. After a brief demonstration, the public will be able to try out this ancient technology for themselves, “minus the sharp stone points!” Mayer hastens to add. Prizes will be given to the best “hunters” at each demonstration.

Retuning for the third consecutive year is the very popular kid’s dig. Children 10 and under can get their hands into a simulated archaeological dig, and may keep any of the replica arrow heads they find. The full schedule of events will be posted in the Wright Room throughout the day.

Kansas Archaeology Day is a presentation by Cowley College Anthropology and the Cowley Public Archaeology and History Group. For more information, please call 620-441-5229, or find Cowley Anthropology on Facebook.