50 Years After Woodstock, Archaeologists Find Long-Lost Treasure

This article appeared in Brain-sharper and has been published here with permission.

They Answered Some Big Questions

There is no denying Woodstock’s impact on the history of Rock n’ Roll. This psychedelic music and arts festival took place in 1969 and saw 400,000 people come together to promote peace and love. And amazingly, organizers expected only 50,000 people to show up! In the 50 years that followed though, many of the festival’s most important details have been shrouded in mystery. Until now…

Their Findings Answered Some Big Questions

Ever since nature took over this historically significant location, archeologists have rushed to the scene to try and answer some of Woodstock’s most burning questions. Where exactly was the stage that carried all of those musical legends?

Their Findings Answered Some Big Questions

How did the organizers manage to cater to so many people? This story answers those questions. It also sheds light on the painstaking work that the team did that led to the unraveling of these mysteries. Extensive research, mapping, and excavations helped bring Woodstock back to life…

Where Exactly Was the Stage?

Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana, Grateful Dead, Sly and the Family Stone; the list of A-list performers at Woodstock goes on and on. While it is no mystery who performed at Woodstock, it has been unclear for a long time exactly where they performed.

Where Exactly Was the Stage?

Due to the haphazard nature of the three-day festival though, there isn’t a ton of records out there that specify exactly where the stage was located. It turns out that this is a burning question that archeologists grew increasingly desperate to answer…

Photos Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Archeologists have become increasingly obsessed with Woodstock due to the lack of tangible evidence that confirms so many of the festival’s most crucial details. Photographers such as LIFE‘s Burk Uzzle captured some incredible images that seemed to convey the spirit of the festival.

Photos Don’t Tell the Whole Story

However, photos only go so far to show what it was like to be at Woodstock and the logistics of the three-day festival. Archeological findings could potentially answer important questions that no photo ever could…

Where Exactly Was Bindy Bazaar?

One of the most important elements of Woodstock wasn’t actually the music. Consisting of 25 booths, Bindy Bazaar was an outdoor market where attendees gladly bartered, traded and bought a variety of goods. It was also a place where people liked to hang out.

Where Exactly Was Bindy Bazaar?

As previously mentioned, photos were taken of many aspects of the festival, including Bindy Bazaar. However, it is unclear where its playground, parking spots and its “Indian Pavilion” were exactly located. Archeologists were desperate to find out…

The Location Is Unrecognizable

Back in 1969, Yasgur Farm in Bethel, New York was where the iconic Woodstock music and arts festival took place. Over just three days, nearly half a million people showed up to watch their favorite bands perform and celebrate “three days of peace and music.”

The Location Is Unrecognizable

Fast forward 50 years later and the Yasgur Farm location in Bethel, New York is an empty field surrounded by trees. It’s amazing to think that this was where the most iconic music festival of all time took place…

Protecting the Site

One institution that is desperate to protect the site in which Woodstock once stood is the Museum at Bethel Woods. First established in 2008, the museum aims to preserve the location while also honoring the spirit of both the festival and the ’60s, in general.

Protecting the Site

In 2017, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the last few years, the museum has been open to working with those who are determined to unlock some of the festival’s deepest secrets…

The Key People Involved

In recent times, the Museum at Bethel Woods has teamed up with researchers and archeologists who have a shared interest in answering some of the aforementioned questions surrounding Woodstock and its famous locations, such as Bindy Bazaar and its main stage.

The Key People Involved

Researchers at the Public Archaeology Facility at New York’s Binghamton University (most notably, Maria O’Donovan) have overseen a handful of projects and excavations on the site’s grounds. However, it has presented its fair share of problems…

An Archeological Nightmare

Before they even arrived at Bethel Woods, Maria and her team foresaw some limitations to their excavation. Woodstock always had a reputation as a haphazard, disorganized event. With so many logistical nightmares, no one seemed to take into account the positioning of important locations.

An Archeological Nightmare

Seeing that organizers had counterculture principles, they tried to do it without affecting the environment. As a result, the site on which Woodstock stood was cleaned up pretty quickly after its three-day run. And that’s not all…

Nature Took Over the Site

Seeing that many decades have passed since Woodstock happened, it makes sense that nature has left its mark on the festival’s site. Since then, trees and vegetation have taken over Yasgur Farm’s landscape.

Nature Took Over the Site

The copious amount of greenery was a sign to archeologists that secrets about Woodstock’s past must have been lying underneath the surface all this time. This was the final incentive for Maria and her team to come and answer Woodstock’s big questions, starting with the following…

Finding Bindy Bazaar

The team soon realized that finding where Bindy Bazaar once stood might prove to be a relatively easy thing to do. Also, the museum hoped to reconstruct the original trail network of this pop-up marketplace.

Finding Bindy Bazaar

The team’s first step was to read a map of the site prior to the festival even happening. It seemed like a lot of Woodstock’s vendors pretty much took down all of the stalls and materials used to build Bindy Bazaar. However, Maria soon saw an opening…

They Found Some Signs

During the early stages of their research, Maria and her team noticed some interesting details in some of the photos of Bindy Bazaar. They realized that people had actually constructed some of the vendor booths out of trees, boards, and rocks, amongst other things.

They Found Some Signs

Upon entering the woodland area, the team removed leaves that covered the hill surface and marked all of the rock patterns that might’ve been used for vendors. Sure enough, the team made some notable discoveries that proved to provide some telling insights…

Many Rock Patterns

After two days of removing leaves, the team ended up mapping and recording 25 potential spots where vendors once stood, as well as 13 other potential cultural features. It was unclear if all of the rock patterns proved to be for vendor booths.

Many Rock Patterns

Some were in the shape of rectangles, others were arranged into straight lines. However, the team had no reason to deny the possibility that they were arranged for this purpose. But what exactly did this mean?

Woodstock “Took On a Life of Its Own”

While many potential vendors matched the mapping, there were many patterns that didn’t. Maria and the team deduced something valuable from these findings: the random positioning of vendors emphasized how chaotic the execution of Woodstock actually was during that three-day period.

Woodstock “Took On a Life of Its Own”

“It is likely that vendors in the Bindy Bazaar had to sort themselves out without direction and not following existing plans,” Maria wrote. In her words, “the festival took on a life of its own that organizers could not control.”

The Numbers Don’t Lie

One huge statistic that backs up Maria’s theory is how the number of visitors at Woodstock completely exceeded the organizers’ expectations. “I think we are all relatively aware that things did not go as planned when nearly half a million people showed up instead of the estimated 50,000,” Maria said.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

This meant that organizers had to make a variety of impromptu contingency plans to cater to such large numbers such as more sheltering and resources. This allowed the team to move onto another burning question…

Finding the Stage

The first question that Maria’s team tried to answer was where the main stage of Woodstock might have once stood. It was hard to tell exactly where the 1969 concert facilities once were. Photos show that this area was located at the bottom of a bowl-shaped hill.

Finding the Stage

Moreover, these facilities were believed to have been positioned on the opposite side of West Shore Road. At first, they didn’t know where to start. But Maria and her colleagues eventually came up with an effective plan…

Picking Up the Trash

Unsurprisingly, the many eco-friendly organizers worked hard to clean up the area after Woodstock ended. However, after being inundated with close to half a million visitors, it made sense that some trash had gone under the radar.

Picking Up the Trash

It also made sense that more trash would have built up in the more crowded areas. “If we could find a pattern, it would help us relocate some of the concert facilities,” Maria said. “We used a metal detector.” But did it work?

Mysterious Hole

The metal detector didn’t find any clear pattern to the distribution of trash. However, it did help the team work out where to dig in order to get more important information. It got to a point when the team stumbled across a small hole, specifically, a soil stain that was nearly two feet below the ground.

Mysterious Hole

The possibilities of what this hole could be excited Maria and her colleagues. While they tried to work out what it was, the team started to excavate the land…

Excavation Time

This was the moment that this team of archeologists started to get really excited and truly got their hands dirty. On June 14, 2018, they started a new dig on-site.

Excavation Time

They were sure that the stain had been left by some sort of post but at first, they were unsure of what its purpose was. However, there were plenty of other objects that they managed to unearth while digging in that small hole. What exactly did the team end up finding?

Strange Findings

While it wasn’t the most groundbreaking set of artifacts that the team had hoped for, they were still grateful to have found anything during this excavation. Some of the findings included a couple of pull tabs from cans as well as some broken bottle glass.

Strange Findings

It was safe to assume that these had been used during the festival. Museum director Wade Lawrence was also on-site to inspect the team’s findings. However, the biggest discovery was yet to come…

Is That the Peace Fence?

After inspecting their findings, Maria and her team finally came to a conclusion as to where the soil stain might have come from. They were confident that it was left by some sort of post. Specifically, it could have been from a fence.

Is That the Peace Fence?

If it turns out that it was a fence, then the team also had reason to suspect that the fence in question could be the wooden “Peace Fence,” which would also mean the following…

They Performed Here!

After matching aerial photos and maps with what would have been the four corners of the main stage, the team was convinced that they had found exactly where all of the acts had performed at Woodstock back in 1969.

They Performed Here!

“We can use this as a reference point,” project director Josh Anderson said. “People can stand on that and look up at the hill and say, ‘Oh, this is where the performers were. Jimi Hendrix stood here and played his guitar at 8:30 in the morning.'”

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Shortly after the team made these important discoveries, the museum was excited to share this news with the public, as well as those who went to Woodstock and descendants of people who went. Assistant Curator of Bethel Woods Center Julia Fell welcomed guests in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

As far as the museum is concerned, Bindy Bazaar should be brought back to its former glory and they did this by opening a reconstructed trail network with signs indicating each vendor and where it was originally positioned.

People Keep Coming Back

Due to the impact that Woodstock had on pop culture and how much time has passed since then, it makes sense why people would be keen to revisit this part of the world. Many people come back to the area annually to bring back that 1969 spirit.

People Keep Coming Back

They will casually play songs that were performed during that three-day period and even dress the way that people did. So when the 50th anniversary came around, fans definitely showed up in their droves, including this couple…

This Couple Came Back For a Reason

One couple who were determined to make it to Woodstock for the festival’s 50th anniversary were Nick and Bobbi. The happily married couple knew they had to be at the famous site and were delighted by the discoveries that the archeologists had made just in time for the celebrations.

This Couple Came Back For a Reason

And while it is amazing to think that they were enjoying themselves at the festival when they “were 20 and in love,” as Bobbi claimed, their Woodstock story is truly remarkable…

The Struggle Was Real

Like so many other fun-loving couples who were at Woodstock during that three-day period, Nick and Bobbi were desperate to see their favorite bands perform and would do whatever it took to get there.

The Struggle Was Real

Stuck in traffic on the way to the farm, the couple got out of their car with their friends and hiked for several miles before finally arriving at the venue. After setting up camp overnight with thousands of other people, Nick and Bobbi’s defining Woodstock moment came the next day…

They Had Their Photo Taken

As previously mentioned, some truly prolific photographers went to Woodstock to get some snaps of the incredible event. Burk Uzzle, who worked for LIFE magazine at the time, was determined to put together a nice portfolio for himself.

They Had Their Photo Taken

At the crack of dawn, during a Jefferson Airplane performance, Uzzle was already awake and saw a man and woman standing in the middle of a crowd of sleeping fans, hugging each other. Uzzle caught them on camera and the rest was history…

It Became an Album Cover

About a year after Woodstock, Nick and Bobbi were hanging out with some of their friends when one of them decided to put on a record. It was Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More.

It Became an Album Cover

As they looked at the album cover, they realized something: their photo was the album cover. “We were sitting around listening to it, looking at the cover,” Bobbi said, “when we noticed the butterfly that Herbie had carried, and then we realized it was us!”

“We Were Never Hippies”

Fast forward 50 years later and Nick and Bobbi are even more in love with each other now than they were during their unforgettable Woodstock experience. These days, the couple lives in Pine Bush New York and they even had a family together.

“We Were Never Hippies”

While their album cover appearance inadvertently became a symbol for the hippie culture, fans are about to be disappointed. “We weren’t hippies, we were just normal, hard-working kids from small towns,” Bobbi said. Ultimately though, it reminds them of their undying love.

What Happened to “Woodstock 50?”

Nikki and Bobbi’s story, as well as the archeological discoveries, dampened the less fortunate news that Woodstock fans learned around the same time. Many were excited about a potential 50th-anniversary festival that was scheduled to take place on August 16-18, 2019 in Maryland.

What Happened to “Woodstock 50?”

Contemporary artists such as Jay-Z, Janelle Monae, Halsey and Imagine Dragons were part of the star-studded lineup. However, fans were heartbroken when they learned that the event was ultimately canceled due to production issues and artist cancellations.

Mixed Results

While archeologist Maria conceded to the fact that the results of her team’s work at the site were “mixed,” she ultimately took a lot of pride from what they achieved. “Our results have been mixed: not everything has been made clearer and not all the questions have been answered,” she wrote.

Mixed Results

“But archaeology at Woodstock has produced new evidence that has aided the Museum at Bethel Woods in their mission to interpret and preserve the site, and has opened a conversation about the site’s past and future.”

New Analysis Shows the Anteosaur May Have Been Much More Agile

The world of prehistoric creatures never ceases to amaze. A recent study of an anteosaur skull showed that this infamous ancient reptile may have been much speedier than previously thought.

The Anteosaur Ruled Some 260 Million Years Ago

Before the rise of dinosaurs, there were bone-crushing anteosaurs with banana-sized fangs that ruled the prehistoric world before they eventually went extinct. In their prime, scientists believe that the anteosaur was a hefty reptile that moved slowly and heavily. That conclusion was based on the fact that anteosaurs were pretty much the same size of today’s rhinos and hippos which are known to be sluggish beasts.

A depiction of an anteosaur chasing a "Moschognathus"
New Analysis Shows the Anteosaur May Have Been Much More Agile

However, upon a closer look at the skull of an Anteosaurus magnificus, things begin to tell a different story.

Anteosaurs Were Agile Hunters

Using CT scans of fossil skull segments, Ashley Kruger and her team of paleontologists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, were able to digitally reconstruct the long noggin of a young A. magnificus. They found that the predator’s inner ears suggest the anteosaur may have had a larger brain region compared to previous studies. That particular brain region was responsible to coordinate motion while surveilling prey.

A depiction of an anteosaur
New Analysis Shows the Anteosaur May Have Been Much More Agile

What’s more, the team also compared their A. magnificus digital model to another herbivorous relative, the Moschognathus whaitsi. They found that the anteousaurs held their head more leveled which allowed them to easily scan their environment. These and other findings suggest that the anteosaur was an agile hunter able to move quickly to track its prey.

What’s Next?

Z. Jack Tseng, a paleontologist at Berkeley University, comments that even though these conclusions are reasonable, a lot more research is required to verify them with greater certainty. The skull itself isn’t enough to tell us how anteosaurs may have moved, and he hopes that the rest of the skeleton would help in creating a more accurate study.