Digging Up the Past in Utah

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

A scientist from Michigan is digging up the past in Utah. The 19th century pottery he unearths will be displayed at the Iron Mission State Park Museum in Cedar City.

Tim Scarlett, an archeologist at Michigan Technological University, calls pottery one of Utah's "pioneer-era" industries.

"The potters helped build a society in the desert," he says.

Scarlett and his team have located 45 sites in 26 Utah towns, from Logan to St. George, from Panguitch to Vernal.

He heads the Utah Pottery Project, which is working to gather into one place information about the potters, their work, their products and their contributions to the history of Utah. The exhibit will open this spring.

Scarlett envisions a replica of a pottery works. He wants to involve teachers, students, community planners, the media, genealogists, historians, ceramics artists, chemists, art historians and archival experts.

"My hope is to reinvent public archeology," he says. "Utah could become a best-practice model."

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.