Co-Directors of the research project are Cheryl Ann Munson of Indiana Univeristy - Bloomington and Dr. Robert G. McCullough of IPFW.

The project has received the generous support of: the landowner; professional archaeologists at many institutions in Indiana and Kentucky; the Falls of the Ohio Archaeological Society; regional historical organizations; and volunteers.


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Last Updated 2.07.2004



Information for Volunteers

Our initial survey work at the Prather archaeological site, in July 2003, was very successful and greatly helped by volunteers. For our Fall 2003 survey work at this important site, we welcome the participation of members of the Falls of the Ohio Archaeological Society, archaeology students, professionals, and colleagues in historic preservation.

Please read all the information below, so that your work can make a real contribution to the survey project, and you can arrive ready to be a member of the team.

Please also refer to the posted example of the sample record form.


All volunteers must notify us in advance for each day they will work, so we can plan each day’s work. Contact Cheryl (by email if you send this one week in advance, or cell phone, 812-325-3407). If you can’t get through to Cheryl, then contact Bob (cell phone, 260-402-3462).

We are working Fall 2003, from October 22 to November 9, on Wednesdays through Sundays, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Rain will postpone or cancel the work, so call to check.

Except for volunteers who are professional archaeologists, you should plan for your first work-day to be a full day at the site (unless you check with Cheryl or Bob first). This is because we need to explain procedures at the beginning of the day, not multiple times throughout the day. After you are “trained,” you can sign up for partial volunteer days.


After you arrive and park, please identify yourself to the Directors/Assistants and “sign in.” We will have a yellow notebook with volunteer record forms at the central work area. Please sign in each day that you come, adding each additional date to the form you initially filled out.

Survey Work Plan

Our goal is to identify the extent of the Mississippian occupation at the Prather site and gain knowledge of the distribution and density of various types of materials. Detailed topographic mapping is also being used to identify probable mounds. The survey is using a tractor-mounted auger to help recover samples of artifacts and residues from Prather site, which is used as a pasture and hay field. The augured soil is collected and screened through ¼-inch mesh. (Compared to shovel-probes, auger sampling proved to be more efficient and gentle to the artifacts!)

We have a 5-step field procedure, in which volunteers help with steps 3 and 5 .

1. Auguring (Directors/Assistants)
Auger the sample at the specified grid point. Generally, we will excavate only one level (usually about 0.5 m), but where deposits are deep (> 0.5 m) we may excavate two levels. Level 2 may be partly collected as a flotation sample, and the other part screened; or the entirety of L.2 may be bagged as a flotation sample.

2. FS Record (Directors/Assistants)
Assign Field Specimen number to the sample, and place the sample’s record form inside labeled sample bag at the hole.

3. Excavation (Volunteers & Directors/Assistants)
a. Look at the record form so you know what to observe.

b. Excavate all the loosened soil in and around the auger hole (shovel, hoe, dipper, scoop) and clean the base of the hole. However, it is not necessary to clean out the very narrow cut (from the “stinger” on the auger) at the base of the hole. Stockpile all soil on a large enough piece of plastic for later screening and wrapping. Scrape the sides of the auger hole with a trowel to provide a clean profile of the deposits; you should be able to see the grooves left in the soil by the auger. Remove the last scrapings of soil from the bottom of the hole.

c. Complete excavators’ part of the record form and return to bag. Pin bag next to the hole with the flag.

d. Tell Directors/Assistants that the soil profile is ready to be documented.

e. Ask them about schedule for screening the sample you just excavated. If the soil needs to dry out or will soon be screened, and rain is not in the forecast, leave soil exposed. Otherwise, wrap soil on the plastic into a “burrito,” carefully tucking under the ends of the plastic so the soil won't get wet if it rains.

f. Ask for your next assignment.

4. Soil Profile (Directors/Assistants)
Examine and document soil profile on back of record form. For a curved face of the round auger hole, select one side or the most informative(N, E, S, or W), and use flexible tape for horizontal measurement of 0.5 m (i.e., approximately one-half of the holes exposed soil profile. Use a separate sheet of graph paper for deep profiles. Note depths of the screened level on front of form. Place record form back in bag and pin next to hole with a flag.

5. Screening (Volunteers & Directors/Assistants)
a. Look at the record form so you know what to observe. Clip this to a clipboard.

b. After the profile has been completed, set up screen over the hole, unwrapping the plastic burrito if necessary. Shovel dirt into screen, and using hands and screening blocks push soil through screen. As the hole fills, stop several times to tamp the dirt and compact the backfill. Screen all the soil. Mound excess dirt on top of hole, and stomp it down.

c. After screening several shovels full, clean the screen and put all cultural materials and rock left in the screen into the labeled sample bag.

d. Do not discard anything except grass and obvious roots (we don’t want any root-like bones missed in the sample). Charcoal – keep only pea-size pieces or larger; the screened soil is mixed with some plow zone, after all. Rock – keep all kinds, even pebbles. Historic material – keep all brick, nails, etc. Wrap sharp objects in foil, label, and put in sample bag.

e. Wrap any charcoal and fragile items in labeled foil packets with the same label information as the sample bag (note: use Sharpie to label foil packet and describe on foil what is inside – e.g., charcoal, red painted pottery, fragile bone, sherds the broke and can be glued together).

f. Leave flag upright next to hole.

g. Fill out screeners’ part of record form.

h. Take plastic, sample bag, labeled foil packets, and completed forms to a Director/Assistant in the designated collection area (by gear tent or vehicle), so they can be checked for completeness. Sample bag, fragile foil packets, and form should be logged in before you begin work at another hole.

i. Ask for your next assignment.


Bring your own trowel, if you have one, and any sturdy long-handled ladles/dippers.

There will be a portajohn.

Dress for work outdoors (including laying down on the ground to clean out the deeper holes) and screening. It will undoubtedly be much colder at the site than you would imagine. Boots aren’t necessary. Work gloves, even the $1 jersey gloves, are good, as are hooded coats, hats, and such.

Equipment (shovels, plastic, clipboards, etc.) will be in a central area. This must be kept organized so people can find things. Please return gear to where you found it.

We will all pack our lunch and eat at the site, so bring your own food and beverages. We will have a cooler of water to share. You might want to bring hot beverages in a thermos.

Project Co-Directors: Cheryl Ann Munson and Robert G. McCullough

Research Associates and Assistants: Jocelyn Turner, Perry Harrell, Andy White, Mike Strezewski, Sean O’Brian, and Jonathan Criss.