By Gary Lloyd
Travis Hyde loves history.
The 2013 Hewitt-Trussville High School graduate loves learning about World War II the most. He said most history he’s studied has occurred in the North, so it was a surprise to him when he found out that Indian artifacts from the Late Archaic period and West Jefferson phase were present behind the Trussville Civic Center, where the future Hewitt-Trussville Stadium will be constructed.
Mary Major, Hyde’s AP environmental science teacher, saw his interest in the class and asked if he’d be interested in helping University of Alabama archaeologists with the dig.
While assisting researchers, Hyde has found a couple arrowheads, one of which was unfinished. He was told it was an arrowhead in the making, likely around 2,000 years old.
He didn’t know Trussville contained this history.
“It’s amazing,” said Hyde, who will double major in accounting and criminal justice at the University of Alabama. “Getting to have a more in-depth experience and getting to hold stuff that was made or tried to be made 2,000 years ago, it’s something you don’t forget.”
Paine Intermediate School Principal Beth Bruno said three fourth-grade teachers — Rebekah Tomlinson, Kimberly Felts and Allie Aldrich — have participated in the dig this summer. The three, who helped discover pieces of pottery and arrowheads, teach Alabama history.
“I think that’s going to take the engagement level of Alabama history to a whole new level,” Bruno said. “It was just a really exciting time for them.”
The dig should finish this week. Since excavation began in June, archaeologists have found evidence of occupations that date back 10,000 years ago, said University of Alabama Office of Archaeological Research Director Matt Gage.
“We’re finding fragments of early pottery and lithic tools that are from approximately 2,000 to 2,500 years ago that will help to answer some of the questions surrounding this shift in lifeways,” Gage said of the Late Archaic period.
The West Jefferson phase has to do with populations moving across landscapes. It is known that the West Jefferson phase occupants of the Black Warrior Valley began moving eastward into the Cahaba and Coosa Valleys about 1,200 years ago. They brought new pottery vessel technology, subsistence strategies and lithic tools, some of which were made of raw materials from the Black Warrior Valley that they likely brought with them or traded for, Gage said.
“The impetus for this migration and its effect on the people who were already living in that area are unclear,” he said. “By looking through the remains of their daily life (their trash), we can gain a better understanding of what they were eating, who they were interacting with and how their technology influenced surrounding populations.”
Once the dig is complete, the artifacts will be analyzed in Moundville. Specialized samples will be sent off for dating, botanical analysis and geoarchaeological studies, and that information will be included in the final report.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.