Cobb Institute marks archaeology month

Vivian Karges,7, left and Margot Hoffman,8, dig for artifacts in a mock excavation set up for children at the Cobb Institute of Archaeology Saturday. The event was one of several scheduled throughout October to recognize Mississippi Archaeology Month. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

In recognition of Mississippi Archaeology Month, Mississippi State University is hostingmseveral events aimed at teaching the community about archaeology in Mississippi and its importance.

On Saturday, MSU Cobb Institute of Archaeology Interim Director Evan Peacock held an artifact identification session at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum. The event offered the community a chance to have their artifacts identified and gain a better understanding of them.

“We see a lot of stone spear points and arrow points, sometimes some old pieces of pottery, some historic period things like old bottles, ” Peacock said. “People bring in all kinds of things. “

Peacock said the Cobb Institute tries to create opportunities for people across the state to learn and participate in archaeology events.

“Mississippi is loaded with archaeology, and it is really world-class archaeology,” Peacock said. “It’s got a lot of importance, and the more that people learn about it, themore they help preserve it. There’s sort of a larger mission to all this.”

Peacock said most of Mississippi’s archaeology is not known and called it a “nonrenewable resource.”

“These sites are perishable, and they are perishing, whether it’s through development, erosion, farming or people out digging up stuff to sell or whatever, they’re disappearing really fast.”

John Harkness went to the session to find out more information on a prehistoric Moche figurine from Peru he purchased several years ago.

“I may be a veterinarian, but all my literate life, I have been interested in archaeology,” Harkness said. “When I saw this (figurine) many years ago without being too thoughtful about what its origin might have been in terms of having been taken from a site. I bought it for a few hundred dollars from a dealer.”

Harkness said Peacock had confirmed the figurine as being Peruvian Moche and praised the quality of the workmanship of the piece.

Also on Saturday, the Cobb Institute held a mock excavation for children, allowing children to experience archaeology hands-on.

“Artifacts” ranging from pots and jugs to cow bones were buried in raised beds in front of the Cobb Institute building on the MSU campus.

Children were then given the chance to search for them with trowels, brushes, sifters and other archeological tools.

“It’s really, really beautiful to share sort of the excitement of discovery,” said Cobb Institute staff illustrator Dylan Karges. “Archaeology is a very creative endeavor. With the stuff we find in the ground, we’re able to reconstruct part of history”

Karges said the Cobb Institute had held the mock excavation for six years, and he had also held one for the Eupora Arts Council.

Other upcoming Mississippi Archaeology Month:

Events include a lecture from bioarchaeologist Anna Osterholtz on Oct. 15 at the Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center near Columbus, and a lecture from Millsaps College Archaeology Professor George Bey on Oct. 27 in Simrall Hall.