4/19/2014 6:09:28 PM
Siena Professor Leads Major Archaeological Find
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
By Jim Eaton
When Barry Dale, lecturer in modern languages and classics, enters his classroom it isn’t unusual to see him dressed in a pair of blue jeans and shirt that are lightly soiled. On occasion, the archaeologist is coming straight from his field sites where he serves as a project leader for excavations.
Dale, who is also a principal investigator of archaeology at the New York State Museum in Albany, recently led a big find in upstate New York. His team unearthed 10,000-year-old Native American artifacts as well as items from the French and Indian War (1755 –1763) near the Million Dollar Beach in Lake George, N.Y.
“It was pretty exciting because we don’t find large prehistoric sites like this very often,” Dale said. He believes that this area of Lake George served as a common ground where people often came back to get resources. “We found a lot of flakes in this area which are remnants from making stone tools,” Dale said.
This job began like many others for Dale. If a project has state or federal funding Dale’s office is contacted to do a small shovel test prior to the start of any construction. “We are brought in to determine if a site is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places,” Dale said. “If there are archaeological finds the goal is to make recommendations so that the site can be avoided. If the site can't be avoided, we gather as much information as possible about the site before it is impacted by construction. “
Since the state is replacing a parking lot and roadway due to its condition in Lake George, Dale will be back up there in December to continue his work.
“It is the academic piece of my job that I enjoy the most,” he said. Unlike baseball cards or other historic items that may have value, the knowledge gained from an excavation is most important to an archaeologist and can tell how people lived in the past.
“The beautiful thing about history is it impacts all of us and this is something I try to share with my students,” Dale said. “Every major in college has a historical aspect to it and we should use this knowledge gained from our past to help us move forward.”
When finals begin in a few weeks Dale will be entering the final stage of his dig and most likely showing up to class with a little history on him, too.
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