Preserving the past

USF students recently learned from a group of ancient people who found shelter under the large clusters of trees behind the Parking and Transportation Services building. Nancy White, an anthropology professor at USF, along with a small group of field study students, recently studied what is believed to be a campsite or habitation site.

“It was discovered in the ’70s, probably by archeology students. It stayed on the archeological site file until plans were made to construct a building on it,” White said. “We had to do something to salvage some of the information before it was too late. We have been able to find chips of stone, probably used for creating hunting tools, and pottery. The pieces probably date back some 1,000 to 2,000 years.”

Theresa Pritchard, a senior at USF and one of White’s students, commented on the unique experience of participating in the dig.

“At first, it seemed a little weird. I wondered why I didn’t know that this site existed on campus. But now, it makes sense. Other people were living here before us,” Pritchard said. “It’s great we, USF anthropology students, have the chance to study right here on campus.”

USF students weren’t the only ones who benefited from the prehistoric find. Keely Fielding, an anthropology student at the University of Florida, is also a student in White’s class.

“My university wasn’t able to offer field school this summer because of cutbacks,” Fielding said.

One of the goals of White and her students is to get the public excited about anthropology.

“Two troops of cub scouts came out Wednesday night. They helped screen and dig.

A couple of them even found artifacts,” said Fielding. “They were so excited.”

White also expressed the pride she feels all Floridians should have in their past.

“You don’t have to go to Egypt; we have a very rich history right here. The first Spanish landed right here in Tampa Bay. The original Florida natives are no longer here. The only was to learn about them is through studies like this one,” White said. “We want people to get excited about the past, so maybe we can have a better future.”

USF’s anthropology department encourages the public year-round to bring in pieces that they have found for recording and to find out more about their time period.