The state archaeologist has confirmed that a site found in Des Moines contains artifacts that are several thousand years old. Archaeologist, John Doershuk, says the village was found at the site of a sewer project in Des Moines, and they have been able to confirm its age at seven-thousand years.
He says they have a couple of radio-carbon dates and they have come out pretty consistently with an error rate of 50 years at the 7,000 year date. The site was nicknamed “The Palace” because of its size and the quality of the materials found for such an old site.
Doershuk says there are older artifacts, but they tend to be either individual items or smaller scale locations where they have been found. “So this is among the oldest large-scale well-preserved, archeological deposits,” Doershuk says. He says one of the other sites that compares to this was found at a sewer construction site near Cherokee in the 1970’s.
Doershuk says a couple of sites this old have been found in Illinois and Missouri, but nothing like this in Iowa. He says there has been very little information from this time period in our state, so they are excited to see what the people may have eaten, how they organized their space.
He says they want to find out if the dwellings were occupied at the same time or sequentially by a group coming back. Doershuk says the work on the sewer project continued as archeologists worked to preserve the ancient artifacts. Doershuk says the construction footprint occupies about 50-percent of the site, but they were able to get the artifacts out before they were destroyed. The rest of the site in on the grounds of the sewage plant, so they should be able to preserve everything.
Doershuk says while only two sets of human remains were located in the excavation, additional burials might exist within unexplored portions of the site. For more information, visit the state archaeologist’s website.