Oakville hosts lecture on excavation research

Travis Rael conducted research for his thesis at UAH by excavating at the summit of Oakville’s largest mound. 

Oakville Indian Mounds and Education Center is hosting a lecture tonight at 5 p.m. with guest speaker Travis Rael.

Rael recently finished his thesis on Oakville archaeology for the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His research provides a new historical perspective for Oakville’s largest mound, including insight into the platform’s use and what types of food Native Americans were eating during the middle woodland period. 

“A common goal of many archaeological studies is to locate anthropogenic features, which provide occupational and chronological information,” Oakville Cultural Resource Specialist Anna Mullican said. “Anomalies detected in ground-based geophysical remote sensing data assist in locating such features, and provide guidance for placement of excavations.”

 During his study, Rael conducted soil core tests of depths up to 230 centimeters at 20 randomly sampled anomalies and identified eight locations containing bone, fired clay, ash, sand layers, carbonized plant remains and isolated soil color and texture changes. 

An excavation unit that was placed over an anomaly that yielded bone fragments revealed a historic grave shaft. Another excavation unit exposed a Middle Woodland burial pit containing at least one individual interred with a large copper gorget, according to Mullican. 

“This method allowed researchers to investigate significant features that revealed important information regarding prehistoric and historic activities conducted on the mound’s summit,” said Mullican. “We are so excited to host this lecture by Travis Rael and allow him to give an update on his research.”

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