Colonial Michilimackinac Archaeology - Mackinac State Historic Parks | Mackinac State Historic Parks

Colonial Michilimackinac Archaeology

In 1959, the Mackinac Island State Park Commission contracted with Michigan State University to carry out a season of excavation at Michilimackinac. Thus began an archaeological project that has continued every summer since, one of the longest ongoing projects of its kind. Much of the west half of the fort was excavated and rebuilt during the 1960s. By 1969, it was apparent that overseeing archaeology at Michilimackinac was a full-time job, and Dr. Lyle Stone was hired as the commission’s first staff archaeologist. Excavation moved outside the walls in the early 1970s, when three rowhouses from the suburbs of the fort were discovered prior to building the Visitor’s Center under the Mackinac Bridge. In 1974, excavation resumed inside the fort walls. Leaving the west side behind, archaeologists began to work on the powder magazine, which turned out to be the most intact building ruin at Michilimackinac. Work continued in the southeast corner of the fort for the next two decades, including the excavation of multiple rowhouse units, most notably the home of Ezekiel Solomon, Michigan’s first Jewish settler. In 1998, archaeologists returned to the southwest corner of the fort to tie together current results with excavations done in the 1960s. This project resulted in the reconstruction of the South Southwest Row House in 2013.  We are now excavating part of the Southeast Row House.

Over 1,000,000 artifacts have been recovered since 1959. Click here to take a virtual tour of some of our collection.

Since 2007 archaeologists have been working on the Southeast Rowhouse, House E at Colonial Michilimackinac. Click here to learn more about that project.

Click here to view the Preliminary Archaeology Reports from Colonial Michilimackinac


Evans, Lynn L.M.
2001 House D of the Southeast Row House: Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac, 1989-1997. Archaeological Completion Report Series No. 17. MSHP.

Evans, Lynn L.M. and Todd M. Reck

– 2021 House 7 of the South Southwest Rowhouse: Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac, 1998-2007. Archaeological Completion Report Series No. 19. MSHP

Halchin, Jill Y.
– 1985 Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac, 1983-1985: House C of the Southeast Rowhouse, The Solomon-Levy-Parant House. Archaeological Completion Report Series No.11. MISPC.

Heldman, Donald P.
– 1977 Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac, 1976: The Southeast and South Southeast Row Houses. Archaeological Completion Report Series No. 1. MISPC.

– 1978 Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac, 1977: House One of the South Southeast Row House. Archaeological Completion Report Series No. 2. MISPC.

– 1984 East Side, West Side, All Around the Town: Stratigraphic Alignment and Resulting Settlement Patterns at Fort Michilimackinac, 1715-1781. Paper presented at the 17th Conference on Historical and Underwater Archaeology, Williamsburg, Virginia. On file, Widder Library.

– 1986 Michigan’s First Jewish Settlers: A View from the Solomon-Levy Trading House at Fort Michilimackinac, 1765-1781. Journal of New World Archaeology 6(4):21-33.

– 1991 The French in Michigan and Beyond: An Archaeological View from Fort Michilimackinac Toward the West. In French Colonial Archaeology: The Illinois Country and the Western Great Lakes, edited by John A. Walthall, pp.201-217. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.

Heldman, Donald P. and Roger T. Grange, Jr.
– 1981 Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac 1978-79: The Rue de la Babillarde.  Archaeological Completion Report Series No. 3. MISPC.

Heldman, Donald P. and William L. Minnerly
– 1977 The Powder Magazine at Fort Michilimackinac: Excavation Report. Reports in Mackinac History and Archaeology No. 6. MISPC.

Maxwell, Moreau S. And Lewis Binford
– 1961 Excavations at Fort Michilimackinac, Mackinac City, Michigan, 1959 Season. Publications of the Museum, Michigan State University, Cultural Series Vol. 1, No. 1. Lansing.

Reck, Todd M.
– 2004 Re-excavting Michilimackinac: Use of Harris Matrices to Analyze Stratigraphy for the Purpose of Studying French Canadians Living in the South Southwest Rowhouse of Fort Michilimackinac. Doctoral Dissertation, Department of Archaeology, Boston University.

Stone, Lyle M.
– 1973 Fort Michilimackinac Parking Lot Area: Summary of Excavations and Structural Evidence, 1970-73. Unpublished report on file, Petersen Center.

1974 Fort Michilimackinac, 1715-1781: An Archaeological Perspective on the Revolutionary Frontier. Anthropological Series, Vol. 2. Michigan State University, East Lansing, in cooperation with MISPC.

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