Annual Archaeology Fair returns to MQT


Participants from the Youth Archaeology Field School explore Grand Island with rangers from the Hiawatha National Forest. Photo courtesy of Betsy Rutz

Sophie Hillmeyer

Since 2013, the Marquette Regional History Center (MRHC) has been hosting the Archaeology Fair to celebrate International Archaeology Day and will be hosting this year’s on Oct. 20, to showcase the diversity of archaeology.

The sixth-annual Archaeology Fair will be held from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the MRHC. This event is open to all ages and admission gives attendees access to the whole facility. There will be 14 different booths offering various outlooks on archaeology. NMU will have three booths at the fair alongside other regional groups such as the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club and the Copper Country Ancient Sites Conservancy.

Archaeology is the study of human history through material evidence and it is connected with anthropology or the study of societies and development, museum educator Betsy Rutz said.

“Once a human being has interacted with something, it becomes an artifact,” Rutz said.
A good example of an artifact is pictographs, or symbols painted on rocks, she added. Though the rock is not considered an artifact, the painting on it signifies human interaction.

“As a museum, we’ve found that programming is vital to our survival with outreach to community,” Rutz said. “We are not just static museum, we are an active community center.”
The event will include hands-on activities for children as well as engaging displays for adults. The Archaeology Fair is a great time for first-time visitors because they will receive access to both the fair and all the exhibits in the museum. It’s also a way to stay busy during the “dark, cold days,” Rutz added.

“Everyone who comes should expect to learn something new about their community,” she said. “Anyone with an interest in human culture should come.”

Volunteers are crucial to the history center’s smooth operations and it allows for new and creative additions to events, Rutz said. For participants like MRHC volunteer Chip Truscon, this event sparks creativity.

“This is my outlet for creative bridges,” Truscon said. “It’s a challenge and I love making something unusual to provide to the event.”

Truscon has contributed his work to the Archaeology Fair in the past, and last year he built a life-size baby mammoth for a display. This year, Truscon created a wall out of plywood that looks like a rock with different pictographs painted on it. The fair will also feature an exhibit for children where they can create their own pictograph displays.

“Archaeology is everywhere,” he said. “It’s a part of our daily lives, even if we don’t notice it.”