Anthropology students dig at proposed arena site.

Before the arena project breaks ground for Lincoln's future, students are taking this last chance to learn about the city's past.

Anyone who says summer school's a snore hasn't been to Professor Peter Bleed's class.  Just below the “O” street bridge, you'll find his students studying hard.

Student Sherri Sklenar says, “you learn something every day.  It's hot and you get dirty, but it is so much fun.”

They're digging right where the Haymarket Arena will go up, so while many are talking about the area's future, these students are asking about its past.  Professor Blood says, “the arena will go right through it.  We want to make sure nothing important is in here that isn't investigated.”

So what are they finding below the surface? 

Student Matt Marvin says, “a lot of glass shards and some pretty big pieces of ceramic, maybe from the pottery company that used to be here.”

So far, the students have dug down about four feet in the ground.  They say the red clay part is where the city originally tried to raise it up to build parts of “O” Street.

No earth shattering discoveries yet, but still student Sherri says it's more than just uprooting bits of broken glass and old brick.  “If you're born and raised in Lincoln, this is Lincoln.  It's neat to know where things started.  Now we know what was here so when the project goes in at least we have a record.”

Professor Bleed wants his students to uncover the bigger message: you can't know where you're going until you know where you've been.  “This is why Nebraskans came here.  Something about this part of the world kept them here and contributed to our state today.”

Students take the artifacts to a lab to learn more about when and how they got there.  While there are different phases of the arena project, the actual arena is supposed to open in the fall of 2013.