Dig it: Archaeologists investigate Woodstock | Music | DW | 27.06.2018
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Dig it: Archaeologists investigate Woodstock

As the 50th anniversary of Woodstock nears, archaeologists are digging up the farmland in Bethel, New York, where the music festival took place to see what treasures the hippies left behind in the desert of mud.

Archaeologists have partially exposed the hippie movement's most famous place of worship: Woodstock. The historical experts have dug up large sections of the fields where hundreds of thousands of freaks and American hippies gathered from August 15 to 17, 1969 for the famous three-day music festival.

More than 400,000 people made the pilgrimage to Bethel, a small town in the state of New York, to see Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Blood, Sweat and Tears live in an ecstatic weekend inspired by music, LSD and marijuana.

The pictures of the hippies dancing, lost in their own world as they listened to the bands on stage — in spite of the rain and mud — have become iconic images in pop music history.

Read more: 1968: A time for dreams and protests

Thirty-two bands appeared at the festival, covering a range of genres: folk, rock, psychedelic rock, blues and country. The grasslands and fields of the farm were completely devastated after the festival — a desert of mud left in the hippies' wake.

An archaeological dig (picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. Drew)

The archaeologists aim to map out the exact location of the stage

Scouring the concert field for clues

As even recent history leaves valuable traces, archaeologists are now digging up the site to see what was left behind.

Among other things, experts from the Binghamton University want to use the excavations to determine the exact location of the stages on which the bands were performing at that time.

In the fall of 2017, archaeologists had already uncovered the marketplace section, where sellers pawned hippie devotionals during the festival had their stalls.

Read more: 40 years on, Woodstock remains a mythical place and time

a pull tab in a gloved hand (picture-alliance/AP Photo/R. Drew)

Artifacts such as this pull tab reveal the surface level at the time of the concert

The farmland about 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of New York City is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site has been preserved since the late '90s by a not-for-profit organization that runs an related '60s-themed museum (complete with a psychedelic bus).

"This is a significant historic site in American culture, one of the few peaceful events that gets commemorated from the 1960s," said Wade Lawrence, director of The Museum at Bethel Woods. He said the archaeologists' work will help the museum plan interpretive walking routes in time for the concert's 50th anniversary next year.

ct/eg  (dpa, AP)


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