Op-Ed

UK’s decision to cut Ky. Archaeological Survey hurts the state’s rural areas

File Photo. In 1997, Brittany Camenisch, 10, and her cousin  Coleman Camenisch, 11, screened dirt in search of artifacts on their families  farmland in Stanford, Ky. A group of about 50 volunteers  participated in an archaeological dig at the site of Logan’s Fort in Lincoln  County.
File Photo. In 1997, Brittany Camenisch, 10, and her cousin Coleman Camenisch, 11, screened dirt in search of artifacts on their families farmland in Stanford, Ky. A group of about 50 volunteers participated in an archaeological dig at the site of Logan’s Fort in Lincoln County.

The University of Kentucky’s decision to terminate the staff of the Kentucky Archaeological Survey (KAS) leaves a void that will be difficult to replace.

While the archaeology faculty at the University of Kentucky and regional universities conduct excellent research, most of them work outside the state, and between teaching and other administrative responsibilities they do not have the time to work with local communities, public schools, and non-profits.

For almost 25 years, the Kentucky Archaeological Survey has filled this role. In addition to providing a service to other state agencies, the staff of KAS work with local governments, nonprofits, and private landowners to protect archaeological sites. They also educate the public about Kentucky’s rich archaeological heritage, and provide opportunities for students of all ages to participate in archaeological research.

My initial involvement with the Kentucky Archaeological Survey was in 1996. At that time, the Logan-Whitley Chapter, of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, was interested in learning more about Logan’s Fort. Established by Benjamin Logan, this settlement was contemporary with Harrods Fort and Boonesborough.

While the DAR had erected a monument in 1916 where they thought the fort was located, they wanted to confirm that the monument was marking the correct spot. In 1997, KAS staff confirmed that archaeological remains of the fort were in fact located where the DAR had placed the marker. During the course of this research they discovered the skeleton remains of Wm. Hudson who was killed and scalped during the Indian Siege of 1777. This was the absolute proof that we had found the site of Logan’s Fort.

Wm. Hudson was buried inside the fort during the siege according to Lyman Draper’s Manuscripts. But even more importantly during the course of their study KAS encouraged public participation. This led to 500 adults, students and children having the opportunity to participate in archaeological research in their own backyard. It was, indeed, one of the greatest educational moments in Lincoln County, Kentucky.

Since then KAS staff have continued to assist the City of Stanford in its efforts to learn more about Logan’s Fort and develop an historic park. Just a couple of weeks ago, with discovery of a log cabin in the city of Stanford, KAS staff again were quick to respond to a request for assistance, and within 48 hours of our call they were on site. Since then they have continued to advise the city on the best way to proceed.

With the termination of the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, how will citizens of rural Kentucky be able to secure the services of an archaeologist who will assist them in similar endeavors? KAS offers a service to the Commonwealth that simply stated is priceless. Their knowledge is enormous when it comes to the rich history of the Commonwealth. I cannot understand why this action is being taken, especially when KAS staff provides such an important educational service to rural Kentucky.

Lynda Closson is a founder and former president of the Logan’s Fort Foundation. She was the recipient of the Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Award for Service to Preservation in 2011.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments