PSU Archaeology Students and Faculty Study Archaeological Sites on the Oregon Coast
Author: Shelby Anderson, PSU Department of Anthropology
Posted: December 3, 2013

Portland State University (PSU) anthropology students spent two October Saturdays documenting archaeologicalsites on the Oregon Coast.  Students were looking for new evidence of past inhabitants of the Oregon coast and assessing the condition of known archaeological sites in the project area.  Students engaged in this work as part of a course on archaeological field methods taught by Shelby Anderson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology.  The field project was a collaboration between PSU and Oregon State Parks Department.

Students split into teams led by archaeology graduate students and carefully surveyed different areas of the coast looking for evidence of past human activity.  No new sites were identified, but students collected new information at known sites, documenting ancient midden (or garbage) deposits filled with shell, animal bone, and other debris left behind by past occupants.   A previously identified WWII era military bunker within the project area was also re-documented by the class. Students found that many sites were negatively impacted by both visitor activity and on-going coastal environmental processes, including recent coastal erosion events.     

Results of fieldwork and recommendations for protecting archaeological sites in the project area were summarized in a report prepared by graduate students for the Oregon State Parks.  Undergraduate students completed official site forms that will be filed with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office.  Their work will help future archaeologists and resource managers studying sites on the Oregon coast. This field project provided a unique opportunity for students to immediately apply skills learned in class to a real world project.