The State of Michigan will celebrate its history and pre-history at the annual Michigan Archaeology Day, Saturday, October 29

Kathleen Achtenberg

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Event located at the Michigan History Center, 702 West Kalamazoo Street in downtown Lansing. Free for all attendees.


Michigan Archaeology Day, presented in partnership by the Michigan History Center, the Department of Natural Resources, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, provides Michiganders of all ages and interests with an opportunity to uncover the past and experience the thrill of discovery.

“Michigan Archaeology Day is the one time each year when everyone across the state gets together to show new things they’ve found and share what they’ve learned. Archaeology isn’t just about uncovering artifacts. It’s about gaining new knowledge and helping to better understand and appreciate the people who have come before us,” said Sarah Surface-Evans, Ph.D., senior archaeologist with the State Historic Preservation Office. “We’re excited to be able to host this annual event at the Michigan History Center and join with so many partners to celebrate the history and pre-history of Michigan.”

Michigan Archaeology Day is an event meant for all ages which brings together university programs, Tribal nations, state agencies, and other partners who are involved with archaeological projects across the state.

Some of the highlight events of Archaeology Day:

  • Special Feature Presentations (see next section)
  • Make a clay pinch pot to take home! Throw a spear using a tool called an atlatl! Watch a flintknapper make stone tools!
  • Have an artifact that you want to learn more about? If it fits in a shoebox, bring it to show to our Archaeology Roadshow experts who will help identify what it is!

Find more event day details at

Cosmopolitan Michilimackinac: Excavating a Community


When you think of archaeology, you might imagine the pyramids in Egypt or Mayan temples in Mexico, but Michigan has one of the longest-running archaeological discovery projects in the entire United States. Taking place each summer since 1959, the Fort Michilimackinac dig project is one of longest ongoing excavations of its kind in the nation. The fort was located on the south shore of the Straits of Mackinac, right beside the modern-day location of the Mackinac Bridge. While the fort has been carefully reconstructed in phases over the past several decades on the surface, this ongoing dig project looks at what real occupants of the Fort may have left behind, in the ground.

Mackinac State Historic Parks Curator of Archaeology Lynn Evans will present at Archaeology Day to share the stories of some of the fascinating people who made up the Fort Michilimackinac community.

“Archaeological excavation has taken place at Michilimackinac every summer since 1959, making it one of the longest on-going archaeological projects in North America. It is also one of the most visible archaeology projects in the state of Michigan, taking place in the middle of a popular state historic park. Thousands of people have watched us excavate, so this is a chance to hear more about what we have learned over the years,” Evans said. “Over the past sixty-four years, approximately two-thirds of the buildings inside the palisade walls have been excavated and reconstructed. These have included military structures, a Roman Catholic church, and homes of French Canadian, British, and even German Jewish civilian trading households. My talk will touch on the variety of people living in the fort and what evidence they left behind of their daily lives.”

Fort Michilimackinac is open from May through October every year and is one of the core attractions of the Mackinac State Historic Parks system. Reconstructed based on research to its arrangement from the late 1700’s at the time of the American Revolution, historical interpreters representing voyageurs, British soldiers, and French-Canadian merchant families are stationed throughout the fort to answer your questions and perform period activities and demonstrations.

“Michigan is full of historical treasures, and Archaeology Day is the perfect time to remind curious travelers to get out there and explore the state’s rich past,” said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “From Native American culture to logging and mining, from 18th century forts to living history museums, the story of Michigan can be learned from state museums and historic state parks throughout both peninsulas. Events like Michigan Archaeology Day are a great way to learn about investigations and artifacts that tell the story of Michigan’s history.”

Poster Explores Complex Urban Archaeology

DetroitDigSite_500x750.jpgArchaeology Day’s other featured presenter is Dr. Robert C. Chidester, Principal Archaeologist with The Mannik & Smith Group, Inc. Mannik & Smith is an engineering and environmental services consulting firm based in Michigan and Ohio that participates in archaeological recovery and analysis projects. Bob’s presentation will focus on urban – and recent – archaeological work in Detroit.

“The archaeology at the Douglass Homes site has provided a perspective on the modern history of Detroit that written documents alone cannot address,” Chidester said. “By combining the written record with archaeological remains of people’s everyday lives, we can better understand what life was really like in early 20th-century Detroit for the people who lived there, as well as the process by which they were uprooted from their homes and businesses to make way for urban interstate highways and public housing projects.”

Each year, archaeology programs in State Historic Preservation Offices across the country produce a special poster to highlight an aspect of archaeology found within their state. The 2022 Michigan Archaeology Poster will focus on what has been lost, and learned, through urban archaeology at the Douglass Homes site. The Michigan poster shows some of the artifacts that were discovered here, and delves into the complex and controversial forces at work which shaped and reshaped this urban landscape. A limited number of posters will be available at Archaeology Day. You can also download a digital version of the poster.

Even if you can’t make it to Michigan Archaeology Day in Lansing on October 29, you can easily participate from the comfort of your own home any day of the year by exploring the virtual Michigan Archaeology Day webpage! Learn what to do if you think you’ve found a shipwreck or artifact, explore interactive shipwreck maps, download special activity books for kids, and find hyperlinks to archaeology projects going on across Michigan. It’s the ultimate online destination for digging into Michigan archaeology!

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