Oak Park, Illinois
Creative Writing and Anthropology and Sociology Double Major
John Bergholz interned at The Office of the State Archaeologist on
The University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. He primarily worked with
one of the project archaeologists who led an expedition in Mills County, Iowa.
Describe your day-to-day experiences.
My work mostly centered on different levels of organization of the artifacts and data from the spring expedition, but there were many little things to be done so I always felt like I was learning something new. One of the more extensive things I had to do was transcribe soil profiles from auger tests taken at every site on the expedition. I also labeled, catalogued, and organized many of the artifacts from the expedition so that they could be put into the repository.
Cindy Peterson, the project archaeologist that I worked for, also helped get me familiar with various lab processes -- such as identifying different types of botanic charcoal under a microscope, washing individual artifacts, and using the flotation machine to separate small pieces of cultural material from large bags of dirt. I used the project report and data to fill out site forms for each archaeological site visited in spring 2012 on the Iowa Sites web database so future researchers know exactly how to get to each site, what was found there, and what cultural affiliation it may represent.
Can you give an example of how your Knox experience helped you during the internship?
Although this internship did not really require much background in archaeology, I don't think I would have been able to understand the extent of what I was doing without Jon Wagner's ANSO 231 (Native America: Identity and Adaptation) and 101 (Human Origins) courses. Those two classes gave me a great background in the field of archaeology, as well as the types of artifacts and cultures I came into contact with during the internship. For example, the vast majority of the artifacts that were recovered in Mills County are from the Middle Woodland or Nebraska Phase culture groups. Not only were these culture groups somewhat familiar, but the types of pottery, stone tools, and other cultural materials recovered from the sites were also easily recognizable.
What was the best part of your internship?
In cataloging the artifacts from the spring 2012 expedition, I got the opportunity to handle some interesting and very old things. The coolest object I worked with -- though not found in the spring expedition -- was a 10,000-year-old Dalton point spear head. It's not like people find stone tools from just after the Ice Age every day, so getting to handle this tool was pretty exciting.
What inspired you to pursue the internship?
Jon Wagner's ANSO 231 course intrigued me immensely, and I was happy to be able to continue learning about pre-Columbian cultures in a more hands-on way.