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Title:Greeting the Morning Mist
Author(s):Benson, Erin
Abstract:Piles of excavated back dirt rise up from the ground amidst a dense fog; an eerie sign foreshadowing an uncomfortable day of high humidity. As an archaeologist, I am used to working outdoors in many conditions. I can recall days of driving to field sites and hearing the radio announce a forecasted temperature in the teens just as easily as I recall days sitting in the shade trying to escape triple digit temperatures with unmentionable heat indices. This misty day kicked off the third week of my dissertation field research. My students and I had spent the previous week building those piles of dirt by hand, not by shoveling out large chunks of soil, but rather peeling back the silty loam centimeter-by-centimeter using a Midwest-patented technique we like to call "shovel-scraping." Each thin layer of dirt removed reveals a new picture below of what life in this field looked like nearly 1000 years ago. Then, ancient farmers filled the hinterlands around the Native American city of Cahokia, enticing an ancestral variety of corn to life from the earth. Now, in the rural countryside surrounding St. Louis, modern mechanized farmers coax commodity corn with similar intent within those very fields.
Issue Date:2019
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Erin Benson
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-05-03

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