As fall arrives, so does university, statewide focus on archaeology

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

MSU senior anthropology major Cody Oscarson of Olive Branch displays a spear point from the early Holocene Epoch. The university is helping sponsor a statewide series of events in October in observation of Archaeology Month. (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—In observing October as Archaeology Month, Mississippi State is sponsoring a range of public programs to help educate about the Magnolia State’s intriguing prehistory.

The Mississippi Archaeological Association, Department of Archives and History and Department of Transportation are co-sponsors of the statewide events. MSU is responsible for those in the northern part, said Evan Peacock, interim director of the campus’ Cobb Institute of Archaeology.

“We are an extraordinary species whose story is well worth understanding and telling,” Peacock said. “We need our citizens to be invested in recognizing the importance of our material past and being partners in helping to preserve it. This is why archaeology month and other public archaeology events matter.”

The MSU-led programs begin Wednesday [Oct. 4] at the Starkville Public Library on University Drive. From 4-5 p.m., Peacock will give a presentation titled “Why Archaeology Matters (and What You can Do to Help!)” For details, contact library director Ginny Holtcamp at

All on weekends, the other events include:

—Saturday, the 7th, 9 a.m.-noon, Starkville’s Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum. An artifact identification session led by Peacock and MSU archaeology colleague Janet Rafferty.

—Also on the 7th, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., a mock excavation is being designed for children at the Cobb Institute of Archaeology on the MSU campus.

—Sunday, the 15th, 2 p.m., Plymouth Bluff Environmental Center near Columbus. MSU bioarchaeologist Anna Osterholtz will explain “Bodies and Lives: How Bioarchaeologists Reconstruct Health and Behavior.”

—Friday, the 27th, 6:15 p.m., Simrall Hall Auditorium (Room 100). Professor George Bey of Millsaps College will describe “2000 Years of Maya Civilization: Recent Research in Northern Yucatan.” In addition to being a sociology-anthropology faculty member, he holds the Chisholm Foundation Chair of Arts and Sciences at the Jackson liberal arts institution.

—Saturday, the 28th, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Ingomar Mounds near New Albany. Peacock and Rafferty will assist with tours and other activities on the 63-acre site where man-made objects dating from approximately 2,200 years ago first were excavated in the 1880s. The site now is owned by the non-profit Archaeological Conservancy.

—Also on the 28th, at Winterville Mounds State Park north of Greenville, the Department of Archives and History will sponsor Mississippi Archaeology Expo from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Details on the free public event may be found by clicking the Facebook link at or calling 662-334-4684

Peacock said “almost all of the human story is encapsulated solely within the archaeological record, as artifacts in the dirt.”

Expressing a belief that no more than “10 percent of the archaeology of Mississippi has yet to be found and recorded,” he added, “That’s both exiting and worrying for archaeologists.

“Exciting,” he continued, “because there is still so much for us to discover and try to understand; worrying, because the record is finite and is disappearing every day.”

Founded in 1971, the Cobb Institute is a research and service unit of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. It also is home to the Lois Dowdle Cobb Museum of Archaeology.

For details about MSU-led events during the Archaeology Month observation, contact North American archeologist Derek Anderson at 662-325-5970 or

The complete statewide schedule of events is found at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at