YSU students dig for treasure on Youngstown’s south side

Professor Matt O'Manskey said finding first-hand evidence of the past is important


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State University sends students all over the world on archaeology digs, but before they can start excavating Mayan Ruins, they have to learn how to do it first.

So they practice on Youngstown’s south side.

When he saw the course work for his archaeology class at YSU, Adam O’Leary turned into a skeptic.

“I didn’t think there would be a lot of archaeology sites in the city, but I’m actually surprised by a lot of the stuff we’re finding here. It’s actually pretty interesting,” he said.

David Guidos worked at the Oakhill dig, finding a piece that looks like broken glass that someone threw out. He said yesterday’s garbage is today’s artifact.

“It has to be religious because there are little crosses on it,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s the bottom of a pot or a vase or something.” Youngstown State University archaeology students

Professor Matt O’Manskey said it was a great find.

“We start finding things like this in the ground that no one has touched for 50 years, 70 years,” he said. “We’re the first person to see this and touch this in decades. There’s some excitement there. We’re bringing the past back to life.”

Written records show the land was occupied by family homes and a business, but the professor said finding first-hand evidence of the past is important.

“What happened at these places? How were people really living versus what history says about that, which are often two different things,” O’Manskey said.

The skills that students are learning on Oakhill Avenue will be used at larger digs in Guatemala and in the future.

“It’s an exciting moment, but you instantly get worried, because you know that you have to stop what you’re doing and get the smaller tools and actually take time to dig out the artifacts at this point,” Guidos said. “Because usually, you’re just smashing away, trying to find something but once you actually find something you have to get more precise with what you’re doing/”

The property belongs to the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown, and sometimes kids from the program join in the digging.

There’s much more to this story. You can listen to a podcast on the local history efforts below: 

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