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Students dig to learn about ancient Native American village in Provo

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PROVO, Utah — What exactly can you learn from a pile of dirt, collection of bones or thousand-year old burn marks?

After almost a month of digging and excavating. local anthropology college students are wrapping up their archaeological dig as they scramble to find as much as they can about a Native American village that existed in Provo long ago.

"We’re learning a lot from how they lived their lives, where they put their houses, and how it affected them prehistorically," said Dr. Mike Searcy, anthropology chair at BYU.

The anthropologists with both BYU and Weber State have spent the past month excavating the entire site, finely sifting through soil to learn as much as they can about the Fremont people, a group of Native Americans who thrived near Utah Lake centuries ago.

"You get to listen to the dirt because you’re scraping along with the trowel and you’ll hear that little ‘ting’ and you get real excited," explained Weber State student Jacob Robinson.

The land at the site of the excavation has been owned by the Hinckley Family farm since the 1800s, but has drawn the interest of archaeologists since the 30s.

John Hinckley himself remembers growing up and finding his own artifacts.

"These guys find something every day. It’s kind of fun watching," he said. "I’m sure there’s a lot of stuff they haven’t found."

However, construction of new roads and the expansion of the nearby Provo Airport has endangered some of the last remaining sites.

"It’s satisfying because you know you found it, and that hasn’t seen for thousands of years. You get to be personally and physically involved with the people who lived here," explained BYU student Breanne Herrmann.

Those wanting to join the students can CLICK HERE AND volunteer, but there’s only two days left.

"You don’t find a lot of jobs where you can pair manual labor with intellectual work, and this is one of them," said Herrmann.

The students are scrambling to collect and learn as much as they can before all of their work is filled in with dirt on Tuesday.

"There’s so much richness that can be gained from looking back," said Robinson. :Looking at not only our history and the pioneers but history in general. Seeing where people came from and what they were doing.

It really puts a lot of the things that we’re experiencing into perspective."