Skip to comments.Passport in Time, a volunteer archaeology program of the U.S. Forest Service
Posted on 04/03/2002 5:34:35 PM PST by vannrox
If you dig archaeology, here's your Passport in Time
Anyone can help Forest Service unearth the past
THE SUN HERALD
|If you apply
What: Passport in Time, a volunteer archaeology program of the U.S. Forest Service. The 2002 project will be in October at the Warrior Fountain Site in DeSoto National Forest, and for those who need it, there will be nearby camping and lodging facilities.
Registration: Space is limited so turn in applications early. There is no fee. Available weeks are Oct. 7-12, 15-19 and 21-26.
Information: Robert Reams, 601-928-4422, extension 25.
Passport in Time, or PIT for short, is a little-known volunteer program of the U.S. Forest Service that allows the public to study the histories hidden within national forests. Participants come in all ages and professions but share a common curiosity about archaeology.
"I think everyone has a secret desire to discover that hidden Egyptian tomb, and this is a chance," said DeSoto District archaeologist Robert Ream. "This gives people an opportunity they normally wouldn't have to go digging into the past.
"And we never know what we will find in these digs. Finding two-thirds of that pot last year was a thrill. To think that it was in an area that over 100 years ago had all the trees cut down and it survived all that work. We also found over 100 projectile points. We're hoping to find a lot more in October."
That's when the next PIT dig will take place at the Warrior Fountain Site in DeSoto National Forest halfway between Brooklyn and Hattiesburg. The site is on what Ream describes as "a little saddle ridge overlooking a nice spring."
Ream laughs when he lists the three "requirements" for those who hold PIT passports: legible handwriting, good eyesight and a sense of humor. Patience is good, too, because meticulous digging and sifting of dirt are unavoidable. Excavation experience and mapping skills are desirable but not necessary. He is currently taking applications, which are likely to come from across the country as well as this region.
PIT volunteers are often retirees, entire families, budding archaeology scholars, professionals on leave and students of all ages, but anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Other PIT programs include surveys, oral histories and historic-structure restoration, but the ongoing Mississippi project is considered an archeological excavation. If possible, participants are asked to sign up for one to three weeks. This dig will be Oct. 7 through 26, with the last week spent in the laboratory examining the tangible discoveries.
"The Forest Service is a public agency, and this is one of our ways of giving back to the public," Beam said. "When we go to a prehistoric site like this one, there are no records, so whatever the volunteers do, with the guidance of the experts, helps us figure out why the early people were here and what they were doing.
"The PIT volunteers help us unravel the past."
Kat Bergeron can be reached at 896-2309 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.