Field Update 6, The Coffey Site; Aug. 28, 2014

Odyssey excavations have wrapped up for the summer, and fall semester has started at the University of Kansas. Due to inclement weather, excavations set for the Mahaska Mammoth Site near Oskaloosa, Iowa, were cancelled; the Odyssey team hopes to work there at a later date. At the Coffey site, excavations continued into the Severance Formation. Within the Severance, a buried soil, or former stable land surface, is visible within the upper 30 cm of the profile (Photo 1). Chipped-stone was recovered from within and below the buried soil. On the last day of excavations, a KU film crew came out to record an interview with Odyssey director Dr. Rolfe Mandel. The video shows a little bit of the day-in-the life of the Odyssey team, which typically includes breakfast and a mid-morning break at the site (Photo 2), and teams of diggers, a mapper (Photo 3), and a person to "shoot in" artifacts with the total station (Photo 4). All of the test units for the summer were completed on schedule (Photo 5). Stay tuned for updates throughout the fall as we compile data and prepare for next summer!

Photo 1. Wall of an excavation unit showing the Severance Formation (rubified sediment) with a buried soil visible in the upper 30 cm (darker color).

Excavated block into Severance Formation showing buried soil.

Photo 2. The Odyssey crew takes a mid-morning break at camp.

Workers at picnic tables in shade.

Photo 3. Chris Hord records information and maps his excavation unit.

Research observations being recorded.

Photo 4. Jeff Shelton working at the total station.

Total station (electronic theodolite with distance meter) used to precisely locate samples.

Photo 5. The completed excavation units.

Photo of all of the rectangular excavation units.

Text by Laura Murphy, Photos by Kale Bruner

Field Update 5, The Coffey Site; July 21, 2014

Excavations have continued along the Big Blue River during the second 10-day session at the Coffey site in Pottawatomie County, Kansas. Soil is being removed very slowly in several archaeological units as the Odyssey crew excavates Paleoindian-age levels in the Severance Formation. The crew documented and mapped a cluster of Paleoindian chipped-stone in a 50 x 50 cm section of one unit (Photo 1) before the material was removed (Photo 2). A lithic core and small scraper tool were also recovered from Paleoindian-age levels (Photo 3). Dr. Paul Hanson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, visited the site to collect sediment samples in the Severance Formation for optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating (Photo 4). The samples, collected in tubes that are inserted into the profile, will aid in developing site formation chronology (Photo 5).

Photo 1. Cluster of chipped-stone in floor of test unit.

Excavated block with chipped-stone fragments still in soil.

Photo 2. Chipped-stone from the Paleoindian levels in the Severance Formation.

Set of chipped-stone extracted from Severance Formation.

Photo 3. A core and scraper from Paleoindian levels.

Close up photo of core and scraper.

Photo 4. Dr. Paul Hanson inserting tubes to collect OSL samples in the Severance Formation.

Dr. Hanson using a rock hammer to pound a sampling canister into the exposed face of the excavation.

Photo 5. The OSL samples in the cutbank profile through the Severance Formation.

Stepped excavation into creek bank showing plugs where OSL sampes are taken.

Text by Laura Murphy, Photos by Kale Bruner

Field Update 4, The Coffey Site; July 7, 2014

The Odyssey crew resumed excavations at the Coffey Site in Pottawatomie County, Kansas, on June 30, 2014. This is the 4th consecutive year Odyssey has worked at this important multi-component archaeological site along the east bank of the Big Blue River. Despite significant erosion from lateral migration of the river, a small remnant of the site still holds a rich, stratified Middle and Late Archaic record as well as some evidence of Early Paleoindian occupation. A concentration of buried artifacts may pre-date the Paleoindian or "pre-Clovis" period. In keeping with the goals of Odyssey, recent efforts have focused on the Severance Formation, a late Pleistocene-age sediment assemblage, and the stratified archaeological deposits within it. To date, the presence of a pre-Clovis-age component ~70-80 cm below the top of the Severance has not been ruled out. Thus, Odyssey will continue excavations into the Severance Formation with the hopes of shedding new light on the earliest peoples to inhabit northeast Kansas.

Photo 1: The Odyssey crew breaks ground at Coffey in 2014 at "Excavation Block B."

Workers beginning to excavate after setting up markers for each unit.

Photos 2 and 3: Ongoing excavations in archaeological units along the Big Blue River.

Workers examining each unit after excavation.

Unit on steep stream bank covered by tent.

The crew water-screens all soil and sediment removed from the units, looking for smaller artifacts.

Workers examining each unit after excavation.

Text by Laura Murphy, Photos by Kale Bruner

2013 Work, Coffey Site in Pottawatomie County

The Odyssey Crew excavating within a Severance Formation paleosol at the Coffey site (14PO1) in July 2013.
Excavating square pits on hill next to river.


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