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Archaeology at the Agency

archaeological dig

Community archaeological dig

Since 2020, we have been in hot pursuit of the hottest place on the hillside: the Agency blacksmith shop. Each year, participants have rolled up their sleeves and dug with us into our site's buried history. Live blacksmithing demonstrations allowed visitors to explore the history and techniques of blacksmithing as we endeavored to locate the 1830s shop. Our special exhibit allowed visitors to analyze scenarios that come up in the everyday work of those who study the past through scientific excavation and highlighted the work of frontier blacksmiths.

Archaeology Dig Videos

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Archaeology kids' camp

Learn hands-on what it takes to be an archaeologist at our virtual camp!

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Sponsored by:

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Summer speaker series 2020

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Co-sponsored by:


Dig sponsored by:

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Special exhibit sponsored by:

Attorney Doug Kammer

Portage, WI


Why archaeology?

Written records, alone, cannot answer some important questions about how John Kinzie's Indian Agency worked.  Our main inquiry this season is how the Agency blacksmith functioned. A smith was established here in 1830 to serve the Ho-Chunk Nation. Evidence in the ground may reveal answers that help broaden our historical interpretation. Our objective through archaeological inquiry is to be able to educate with a more holistic perspective on the people, places, and significant events of the site's history. In the process, we also hope to foster within participants an appreciation and basic  understanding of this important means by which history is preserved and interpreted.

Media Coverage

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Special Exhibit

Our special exhibit challenges you to analyze scenarios that come up in the everyday work of those who study the past through scientific excavation. It also features the history of frontier blacksmithing and tools of the trade.

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Blacksmith history

Learn the basics about frontier blacksmithing, or dig even deeper into a published paper on Indian agency blacksmiths of the American frontier.

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Archaeology at the Agency, 2020-2024

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