Students help unearth prehistoric artifacts in the Glades
Palm Beach State College students are helping dig up ancient artifacts such as stone tools, ceramics and more at the Hutchinson site, a pre-Columbian, Native American archaeological site in Belle Glade that might prove to be 6,000 years old.
The students are part of the Introduction to Archaeology class taught by Dorothy Block at the Belle Glade campus. As part of the course, students learn about site excavation, analysis and how to interpret findings.
The Hutchinson site is located in an agricultural area and is named after the late Warner Hutchinson, who was a grant writer for the Lawrence E. Will Museum of the Glades in Belle Glade and an advocate for archeological research.
According to Block, the goal of the work is to train local people to be capable stewards of their own historic and cultural resources.
“We need a larger talent pool,” said Block. “There are at least half a dozen sites in the Glades that need research to continue developing our understanding of the ancient history of the region. By developing an understanding of how humans adapted to life in the watery world of the Glades over time, we might gain insight regarding long term climate and weather patterns. Archaeological research in the area might also inform present day efforts to develop models of sustainable living in a world that is growing ever warmer and wetter.”
One student currently in training is Kasla Camellon, who has participated in field research at the Hutchinson site several times.
Camellon took an anthropology class from Block and then decided to enroll in the archeology class. “Archaeology is a sub-discipline of anthropology, so it was a natural progression for me,” said Camellon. “Being out on the site excavating has been the best experience both physically and mentally.”
Camellon and her classmates usually spend about two hours excavating. The last trip she unearthed about 30 animal bones, from snake bones to gator teeth. Camellon hopes to find more types of bones on her next visit.
According to Dr. Roy Vargas, dean of academic affairs for the Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves campuses, the College hopes to offer more anthropology and archeology classes not only at the Belle Glade campus but also in Loxahatchee so more students can get hands on learning opportunities at the Hutchinson site and other archaeological sites in the Glades.
Palm Beach State started offering Introduction to Archeology classes last year.
Block is the founding chair of the Palm Beach County Archeological Society and director of the Lawrence E. Will Museum of the Gladeswhich is operated by the Glades Historical Society. Her class works in partnership with the Palm Beach County Historic Preservation office and the Lawrence E. Will Museum.