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Forensics team surveys fort, burial sites PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, June 20, 2013 11:38 PM


Staff Writer

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FORT JENNINGS — Last fall, the Ohio State University Forensic Anthropology Case Team (FACT) began a survey of the Old Fort site, which contains the gravesites of 12-14 soldiers who died in Fort Jennings during the War of 1812, the final phase of the Revolutionary War.

On Thursday, the team of archaeologists and anthropologists returned to complete the survey of the site by using geophysics, the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods.

The team used ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to digitally map out the site and underground disturbances in 3-D. This technology may provide the analysis to outline the fort or the gravesites.

Former Fort Jennings resident Julie Smith Wiley, Esq., said the continued research is an outreach from last year’s efforts to pinpoint the historical data prior to the Bicentennial celebration.

“The original survey was hand- drawn in 1820 and depicted points and measurements and showed the fort here,” Wiley explained. “Aerial photographs and maps, along with the survey, serve as overlays which help determine the fort’s positioning.”

The topography in the Auglaize River area has seen a lot of change, both man-made and natural, over two centuries. The fort site has been built on many times over and during the construction of the new highway bridge in the 1960s, at least 12 feet of fill was added at the edge of the river and graded up the banks. In addition, the river has eroded into the fort site, changing the topography of the land.

OSU undergraduate Kimberly Swisher said the GPR will help determine the location of the buried soldiers and fort.

“The placement of the 1976 commemoration is close,” Swisher said. “Better equipment will help identify the fort and burial locations.

The survey encompasses sectioning off portions of the temporary bank parking area west of the monument.

Graduate student Adam Kolatorowicz said the study was an opportunity to help the community.

“It helps the village,” Kolatorowicz stated. “Solid evidence for the next step — excavating for the burial location.”

Measuring the area consists of creating 75-x-75-foot grid sections, which are surveyed with radar. Each section takes close to a half hour to process.

Graduate student Logan Miller explained how the radar detects the differences in soil. He said that it will give a better indication of where to dig and better preserve the site.

“Radar is emitted down through the soil and then it is transmitted back up,” Miller detailed. “The computer displays the differences in the ground below in 3-D.

Wiley hopes to be able to have the results and recommendations of how to proceed with possible core sampling or excavations in time for the Fort Fest in August.


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