VIDEO: Hands On Experience

Associate Professor Lee Sappington discusses the field site learning experience. More

Banner Photo: (Left) Laura Lehmons holds up the projectile point she discovered. (Center) Alyson Kral and Laura Lehmons excavating their pit. (Right) Close up of the projectile point.

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Laura Lehmons holding a projectile point and excavating a pit with Alyson Kral

Students In Action | Laura Lehmons

It may have been Laura Lehmons last course before graduating from the University of Idaho, but it was full of firsts.

As an undergraduate anthropology student, she had been on five previous field projects – otherwise known as “digs.” During those, she did all of the usually tasks. She measured out meter by meter holes, brushed, skim shoveled, and picked through mounds of soil and pebbles to help faculty and graduate student researchers tell the story of those excavations. However, she had never brushed away the dirt and to find something really special – until now.

As a student in Lee Sappington’s summer field project at the Kelly Creek Work Center on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, Laura had been working with Alyson Kral – an Idaho alumnus (’02) who now works as a professional archaeologist for the United States Forest Service. The two had been taking turns in the pit. One was down digging, while the other was up top dumping and sifting. By mid-day Lehmons had rotated back into hole – officially known as “Unit 31.”

“I was skim shoveling – which removes the same depth as trowel-ling, but it removes more dirt,” Lehmons describes. “But the minute I saw it - that all stopped.”

“That” was a four to five thousand year old Cascade projectile point. It is too old to be called an arrowhead, because the depth of the find pre-dates its more common successor.

This beautifully crafted point, explained Sappington, “was probably used on a spear to kill a deer or elk.”

“It’s the first projectile point I’ve ever found!” exclaimed Lehmons.

Discovered a day earlier at the same depth in an adjacent hole, Lehmons and Kral also uncovered a specially tooled rock used as a net sinker and a hearth “cobble” feature.

Thrilled by the find, she adds that a few days earlier she also saw her first moose.

Hot and dirty she takes a breath and looks over at the the sparkling Clearwater River just fifty feet away.
“I’m thinking of taking a celebratory jump in the river later . . . It’s been a good day.”

Laura Lehmons transferred to Idaho from the College of Southern Idaho. She was named the Outstanding Undergraduate Archaeology Student in the spring of 2010 by the University of Idaho’s Department of Sociology & Anthropology.