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Michilimackinac Archaeologists Find Old Die Ahead of Official Excavation

While the official opening day of the archaeological field season at Colonial Michilimackinac was May 30, the archaeology team couldn’t wait to begin unearthing artifacts, and on May 26, while preparing the site for the season, Field Supervisor Beth Kerton-Schmit discovered a bone or ivory gaming die.

“Our cleanup/setup week ended with a very nice find,” said Dr. Lynn Evans, curator of archaeology for Mackinac State Historic Parks. “It came from the central cellar. It is the second die found in this house.”

The excavation will be fully staffed and running seven days a week through Aug. 19, weather permitting.


The current excavation site is House E of the Southeast Rowhouse at Colonial Michilimackinac. Numerous finds have been made at the site in recent years, including a Compagnie des Indes lead seal dating between 1717 and 1769, a brass sleeve button with an intaglio bust on it, a potential structural post dating to the original 1715 fort, and engraved “Jesuit” trade ring, a brass serpentine sideplate for a British trade gun; complete remnants from a creamware plate; and many other items.

The archaeological dig at Michilimackinac began in 1959, making it one of the longest-running archaeology programs in North America. House E was first occupied by Charles Henri Desjardins de Rupallay de Gonneville, and later by an as-yet-unidentified English trader.

Colonial Michilimackinac is a reconstructed fort and fur trading village located just west of the Mackinac Bridge. Costumed interpreters provide demonstrations and tours throughout the day, and active archaeology takes place during the summer months.

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