‘Digging the Past’ in Marietta

Budding archaeologists and history buffs are invited to unleash their inner Indiana Jones at a program Saturday at the Campus Martius Museum.

“Digging the Past” is a full-day event featuring professionals in the field of archaeology. It’s an annual program that brings in many collectors and patrons through the door, according to Bill Reynolds, historian at the museum.

“We’ve had the phone ringing off the hook and I think we will have every table the museum owns filled with collections,” he said.

Among the collections is an extensive display of Civil War artifacts related to the local area, owned by Brian Kesterson of Parkersburg. Kesterson will offer tips on how to look for and identify artifacts.

Four presentations will also be given at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and will cover topics ranging from the UNESCO world site of historical importance in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, to a family site here in Washington County dating back to the late 1700s.

“What I will be talking about is the Deming site, located here in the county,” said Reynolds, whose program will begin at 2 p.m. “It is a very interesting cross section of cultural patterns and gives the idea of how this family lived, their economic status…from a pattern of rubbish we are able to tell that they were actually doing pretty well, a lot better than most at the time.”

Among the items collected from the site are pottery, ceramics and iron work, most of which Reynolds believes were probably purchased locally.

“There is a lot of stuff that came from 150 years of occupation by the same family,” he said.

At 11 a.m., Bill Pickard with the Ohio Historical Society will talk about Fort Laurens, near Bolivar, which is Ohio’s only Revolutionary War fort. In 2004, archaeologists and volunteers moved 50,000 pounds of dirt during excavation of a musket ball concentration near the fort. Pickard will talk about the find and what it helped to determine about the fortification. For those who are interested in furthering their education in the field of archaeology, Annette Erickson of Hocking College will speak about the programs offered at the school and the profession of archaeology. Erickson’s presentation will begin at 1 p.m.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. with Wes Clarke of Marietta speaking about his experience digging at Angkor Wat and other areas in Cambodia and Thailand. Clarke is a newly retired archaeologist with the Ohio Department of Transportation, District 10 and is pursuing his doctorate in Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University.

Like a page right out of the script from “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Clarke’s experiences over the past eight to 10 years – in battle-worn Cambodia specifically – have been a little more dangerous than the average dig here in the U.S.

“You have to be very informed and smart about how you operate in Cambodia. Different groups would control different territories and put down landmines but not map them,” Clarke explained. “No work occurs in an area until it has been cleared.”

Clarke said he hopes to present a rare video provided by a prominent archaeologist going into a temple complex that has not been cleared. The video follows the archaeologist and the men sweeping with metal detectors. Clarke’s discussion will also talk about how archaeological digs are handled in less developed countries.