MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s state archaeologist has died after being found unresponsive during a training dive in a Madison lake.
Rescuers pulled 63-year-old James Skibo from Lake Mendota on Friday morning, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
Wisconsin Historical Society Director and CEO Christian Overland said Skibo was with two other divers training for the upcoming season. The Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause of death is still under investigation.
Skibo was named state archaeologist in 2021. He recovered a 1,200-year-old canoe in Lake Mendota in June 2021 and a 3,000-year-old canoe in the same lake this past September.
The Wisconsin Historical Society said on its Facebook page that Skibo was looking forward to more dives in Lake Mendota this spring to continuing exploring the canoe sites.
Skibo previously worked as chair of the anthropology department at Illinois State University. He authored and edited 11 books and reviewed dozens of articles on pottery and the archaeology of the Great Lakes.
“He was a mentor but also a great learner,” Overland said. “And what I mean by a great learner is that he was an explorer. He was always thinking about what people could learn from history, not just reading it in books but bringing it to people.”