Turpin archaeological dig site hoping to recollect, reconnect history

Turpin archaeological dig site hoping to recollect, reconnect history
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A project this summer involving Ohio State University, Harvard, the Cincinnati Museum Center and more aims to uncover history beneath the Turpin site in Anderson Township.

Along Clough Pike in Anderson Township next to the Little Miami Bike Trail sits one of the oldest archaeological sites, the Turpin site. It is believed this was one of the first places to find evidence of corn agriculture.

This isn’t the first time the site has been excavated but they do hope it will be the most revealing.

“At this point what we really are encouraging is for this to be a community archaeology project,” says Ohio State Archaeology Professor Robert Cook. “So, we’re involving the descendants of the Turpin family. We’ve met several of them already and they are extremely interested in the project and participating. In that sense, it’s kind of like an ancestry project that goes into the ground. So, it’s not just talking to older people in your family and piecing together your genealogy but actually going back to the material left behind and understanding that through their eyes.”

The Turpins are believed to be the first European family to live in this area and they had a home on this same ground. Before them, it was an ancient village.

The project has already unearthed broken animal bones, pottery, tools, arrowheads and more.

“We have immersive technology that we’re playing with,” explains Cook, “Augmented reality where you can actually go into the ancient village like you would in a video game. You can actually go into the house and feel what it was like to be in that structure. Now, it’s an empty field as you can see, but on Saturday you can actually immerse yourself by going inside and experiencing it in a more direct way.”

While the project for this summer is wrapping up next month, Cook hopes there will be more action on this land for years to come. And that you will help bring history back to life.

“We really want this to be a community-owned and community-generated project,” adds Cook, “Where the questions become as much generated by the people in the area as by ourselves.”

Cook says if there is one takeaway for the public, he wants you to know that you don’t have to travel far to experience archaeology.

“Archaeology is important right beneath our feet here in Anderson Township and in Cincinnati in ways that most people don’t appreciate,” says Cook. “They think archaeology is in Egypt or in Mexico and of course there’s great stuff there, but here we have things that are right on par with that they’re just a little more hidden.”

You can learn more about the site here. It is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for tours and other features.

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