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What student-discovered War of 1812 artifacts tell us – Press and Guide

The past leaves clues around us or, in the case of the UM-Dearborn Archeology course, right under our feet.

The Battle of the 1812 War is just a few miles from campus, and Associate Professor John Chenoweth brought his students there to learn more about the Native American and French people who lived on the land more than 200 years ago and what happened during the Raisin River conflicts.

Chenoweth, who teaches in an anthropology program, said most of those who lived here were illiterate, many spoke little English, and they weren’t among the rich and powerful whom history often focuses on. “Our job as archaeologists is to recover the things they left behind so we can tell their story.”

Students from UM-Dearborn and UM-Ann Arbor focused on the 18th century Raisin River settlement that was the site of the Battle of Raisin River in January 1813. Chenoweth says the settlement was rebuilt across the river as Monroe after the war left a “time capsule” preserved for scholars Archaeology.

Mohan Karanth holding a tube stem likely dating from the late 18th century (Image courtesy of John Chenoweth)

To learn more about the people and what happened there, students ANT 410: Archaeological Field School and Laboratory Methods collected trowels, storage bags, line levels and more to excavate the site, identify artifacts, and make records of their field work. UM-Dearborn is working with the City of Monroe and with River Raisin National Battlefield Park to help preserve and explain the site to the public.

Field school classes are often expensive and require travel. To make the experience even easier, Chenoweth has created a course that offers field school experiences as part of an ongoing fall semester where students go to the site once a week. “This makes it possible for more people to experience archaeological excavation, see what we’re doing, and get a sense of how scientific research really works.”

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