August 31, 2016

Artifacts discovered at courthouse site

By Daniel Arens

Multiple artifacts in several different categories were found at the construction site for the expansion of the Mercer County Courthouse and Jail.
These artifacts were transferred to AECOM’s office in Bismarck, where they are sorted and analyzed before they are sent to the North Dakota State Historical Society.
Last week’s edition of the Hazen Star and Beulah Beacon explained how AECOM, an engineering company that works with archeological finds, is involved in the expansion project at Mercer County. Originally contacted in 2015, the company performed a “Class 1 Literature Review,” a detailed analysis of every project and survey carried out on the site.
AECOM’s review quickly noted the presence of an Amahani Village site at the location. The Amahani is one tribe that makes up Hidatsa culture. However, the reports also projected little remaining intact features at the site, due to previous development.
Features are historically important sites of discovery. Artifacts, by contrast, are the specific individual items that comprise the feature. Numerous features were found at the courthouse site, each with multiple artifacts.
The company still maintained a presence at the site, in case any features were discovered. AECOM Principle Investigator Melinda McCarthy said that there are not a lot of sites specifically related to Hidatsa culture like that located in this place.
Everyone involved in the project expressed surprise at the number of features that were found on site. “We found that underneath about 25 centimeters, everything was intact,” McCarthy said.


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