Unearthing Detroit dives into city's past

 
 
Unearthing Detroit, a collections-based archaeological research project, is embarking on a journey into Detroit’s past. 
 
The team, led by Professor of Anthropology Krysta Ryzewski, has been examining artifacts discovered during an excavation 40 years ago at the site of Detroit’s signature skyscraper, the Renaissance Center. Since then, the artifacts have been stored in Old Main and had remained untouched until little over a year ago.
 
Master’s student and team member Kaitlin Scharra says one of the goals of this project is to showcase these artifacts in the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology, located on the first floor of Old Main. “Unearthing Detroit was started as an initiative to revisit these collections and put them back together to start moving forward with the museum.” 
 
Not only are they analyzing these ancient collections, they also are conducting archival research to put these artifacts in a time and place. “There are six historic blocks that this particular excavation went into, and all of these different parts tell a different piece of the story,” says Scharra.
 
All the Unearthing Detroit team members have a different task to complete, but according to Scharra, research behind the scenes is key to piecing together the history of these collections. “Our research helps us identify who these artifacts belong to and what it says about the different families, their social standings, what they ate and more.”  
 
Since it’s so important to find the correct information that makes these artifacts identifiable, Unearthing Detroit can be considered a work in progress. “Along with finding out the history, we are working on ways to bring this to the public through activities such as walking tours to the sites,” Scharra says “It’s a big project and there are lots of places to go from here, so we’ll be in action for a good while.” 
 
July 11 is the Day of Archaeology, and Scharra says it’s a day set aside for all archaeologists to showcase their work and findings to the public. “We’re going to develop a blog post that shows you the Renaissance Center today, the artifacts that were found in that exact location during the excavation 40 years ago and what they tell us about the history that was underneath where the Ren Cen now stands.”
 
With so many people eager to learn more about Detroit’s fascinating history, Scharra and the rest of the team think their work is a great way to showcase the uniqueness of the city. “There is such a huge push for more historical knowledge,” says Scharra. “Integrating it into pop culture and politics is key.”
 

 

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Unearthing Detroit dives into city's past 7/10/2014
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