SHEFFIELD — By digging holes they hope to fill holes in history.
Participants in an archaeological dig at the Burrell Homestead, 2792 East River Road, are uncovering artifacts that they hope will tell them more about Native American tribes who lived there 4,000 years ago. The dig is being run by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
“We don’t know their tribal identification. There’s no written records about them,” said Brian Redmond, museum curator and archaeology chair, who is overseeing the excavation. “The only reason we know anything about them is from archaeologists finding what they left here.”
The homestead was founded in 1815 and the dig is part of efforts to promote the bicentennial of Sheffield, Sheffield Lake and Sheffield Township next year, said Charles Herdendorf, a retired Ohio State University professor of geology and oceanography and the president of the Sheffield Historical Society.
Redmond said museum archaeologists first excavated at the site in the 1970s and found stone tools. University of Akron archaeologists worked at the site in 1987 and museum archaeologists returned in 2008.
The latest dig, paid for with about $17,000 in private grant money from the Fairview Park-based Laub Foundation and the Norwalk-based Schlink Foundation, began June 16. On Tuesday, about 13 people sifted through dirt on what Redmond said is believed to have been a camp site where the Indians may have slaughtered animals.
The excavation, which Redmond said will conclude next month or in August, is about
21⁄2 feet deep on about two acres. A flint hunting knife and a stone ax head have been found in the latest dig and may be eventually displayed at the museum, Redmond said.
Nine of the participants paid $200 per week to get dirty in the hot sun. They are students taking an archaeological course.
They included Paul Schweigert, of Akron, who was taking part in his first excavation.
“It’s been extremely interesting,” he said as he dug on his knees with a trowel. “It’s neat that it’s still here and we can come out and find it.”