WSU professor, students dig up history in Kansas

WSU faculty and student have been digging up history near Ark City. Courtesy KSN News

COWLEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State University students have been busy digging up history at a site near Ark City, in Cowley County.

They’ve been working to uncover artifacts from a battle between Spanish conquistadors and the Wichita Indian tribe.

One student discovered an artifact dating back more than 500 years.

“We started digging in this particular spot last year and we only spent a week here then but got some good results so we came back this year,” said Don Blakeslee, an archaeological anthropologist at WSU.

“I was digging down into levels, and we keep track where we find everything, essentially, so any kind of tools, large pieces of bone, anything like that, and it was about 87 centimeters down. It was in a little rough shape, it’s been in the ground for a little while, so it’s a little rusty but he kind of was able to assess based off of the length of it, and the general shape,” said Mitchell Young, student at Wichita State University.

“If I hadn’t worked on a Coronado camp site down in Texas I would not have known what I was looking at. It was broken but I didn’t see it as broken, when I first saw it in his hand and I thought it was bent around, I thought it was a big old fence staple. As soon as I picked up the shank and felt it, all horseshoe nail shanks are the same proportions, it doesn’t matter who made them, but the heads can be very different,” said Blakeslee. “The odds of finding an item from people who were here for 2 days, not very likely.”

“It is cool finding all of the little stuff as well, but that big thing, it kind of gives you significance to where you’re digging,” added Young.

“If you look at the rock below, it had to have been in something,” noted Blakeslee. “Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle in 4 dimensions, because you have time as well, and you don’t have all of the pieces, and you still want to see the picture.”

Blakeslee believes the nail that was found, dates back to the early 1600’s.