Get ready, the archaeologists are coming


Rick Sorrels

Archaeologists from Seattle’s world-famous Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture will be on the Key Peninsula on March 21 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. to examine and identify old artifacts the public brings to Key Center Library for them to study.  

Experts will solve the mystery or purpose of that ancient stone tool or arrowhead or item you found buried in your garden.   

Every year in January or February, the Burke Museum holds an artifact identification day at the museum. They rarely travel elsewhere, organizers said. 

The people making arrangements with the Burke work for Statistical Research Inc., who just wrapped up an archaeological study and dig along the shoreline of Filucy Bay.  

Grant money from Washington state and from the Pierce County Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission funded both the 2012 and 2014 surveys at Filucy Bay. 

The team leader from Statistical Research Inc. is Edgar Huber. He and his colleagues Sarah Van Galder and Stephanie Jolivette will also be at the March 21 event to answer questions regarding their survey results. 

The primary purpose of the Filucy Bay survey was to identify areas of high potential for future research. Filucy Bay was especially attractive because of a rare earlier survey conducted by John and Marcia Winterhouse in 1948, upon which they could build. 

Access rights to dig were granted by the owners of 51 properties in 2012 and 22 properties in 2014. Seventeen sites were confirmed. Ten sites had been recognized in 1948, and seven new sites were found. 

At a public meeting at the Longbanch Improvement Club on Feb. 17, Jolivette explained how the acid in the soil prevents the survival of animal remains including most bones. Artifacts found were mostly middens (a Danish word for kitchen trash), shells and modifications caused by humans. As an example, she said, history shows that bark removed from a large tree was used in making clothing or footwear. 

Huber said the most interesting object found was a stone tool used to scrape objects. 

Jolivette said funding limits prevented lab determination and carbon dating. Dates for artifacts found could be 200 or 2000 years old. 

 If hired again for a third survey, and if funding is available, dates could be determined for artifacts, she said.  All artifacts found remain the property of the land owner where they were found. 

A lady in attendance who recently moved to the Lakebay area, who declined to identify herself, said she “had become more of a Luddite as she got older, wanting to leave everything in its place, undisturbed.” 

Jamie DePew, who owns property on Filucy Bay, said “the presentation was interesting, but would have been more interesting if they could have provided dates.” 

For information, call (360) 918-8621.