Ashland University Geology Professor Receives Award

Ashland University Geology Professor Receives Award
Burt Logan, at left, presents the Ohio Preservation Office Award to AU Professor Dr. Nigel Brush (middle) and Dr. Jarrod Burks at an awards luncheon in Columbus.

11/3/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – Dr. Nigel Brush, professor of geology at Ashland University, received an Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award for his work with the Ashland/Wooster/Columbus Archaeological and Geologic Consortium on the Walhonding Valley Late Prehistoric Sites Project. 

Members of the research team for this project, who were named in this award, were: Dr. Nigel Brush (director), Dr. P. Nick Kardulias, Dr. Jarrod Burks, Jeffrey Dilyard and James Morton. The award was presented on Oct. 29 during the State Historic Preservation Office Awards Luncheon at the Ohio History Center in Columbus. Dr. Brush and Dr. Burks were present at the luncheon to accept the award for their Research Team.

“This award is for the team’s contribution to ‘Public Education and Awareness’ and is in recognition of our continuing archaeological work in the Walhonding Valley over the past 25 years and the numerous volunteers and college students from Ashland University, College of Wooster, Wayne College and University of Akron who have worked with us on this project,” Brush said.

Brush said the purpose of this project is to study the impact of short-term climate change on native peoples living in the Walhonding Valley over a 1000-year period that spans the Medieval Warm Period (A.D. 900-1300) and the Little Ice Age (A.D. 1300-1850). 

“We are surveying and excavating sites that were occupied by Intrusive Mound peoples from 700 to 1000 A.D. and Cole peoples from 1000 to 1300 A.D. who occupied the Walhonding Valley during the Medieval Warm Period, as well as sites occupied by Philo/Belmont peoples from 1300 to 1500 A.D. and Wellsburg peoples from 1500 to 1700 A.D., who lived in the Walhonding Valley during the Little Ice Age,” he said. “We are interested in determining what impact this shift from a warmer to a cooler climate had on the settlement and subsistence systems of these native peoples. We are presently attempting to identify as many Late Prehistoric sites in the Walhonding Valley as possible, surface collect these sites, conduct magnetometer surveys at some of the more heavily occupied sites, and conduct excavations at selected sites which have significant subsurface features that likely contain artifacts that can be used to reconstruct how these peoples adapted to this shift in climate.”

According to Brush, the survey portion of this project was started by one of the consortium members, James Morton of Columbus, in 1985.  In 1990, Brush joined Morton on this project and they began to conduct excavations in 1991. To date, they have excavated at five Late Prehistoric sites in the Walhonding Valley.

Brush said he met with Burt Logan, executive director & CEO of the Ohio History Connection/State Historic Preservation Officer, earlier this fall at the Walhonding Valley Historical Society Museum in Warsaw, which is located in Coshocton County.

“The purpose of this visit was an Historic Preservation Award site visit. I showed Mr. Logan the Cullison Site, the Speckman Site, the Crawford Site, and the Tri-Mac/Olinger Site on the Walhonding River between Warsaw and Coshocton,” Brush said. “He also viewed a small exhibit on the Cullison Site that I recently moved from Ashland University’s Kettering Science Center to the Warsaw Museum. The Cullison Site is directly across the river from the museum.” 

In addition to serving as co-director of the Ashland/Wooster/Columbus Archaeological & Geological Consortium, Brush is former curator and co-founder of the Killbuck Valley Museum of Natural History. His areas of research include geoarchaeology, dendrochronology and millennial-scale climate change events.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###