Archaeology! It’s all about the toys …

Written by Michele Greenan, Natural History Collections Manager, and Gaby Kienitz, Textile Conservator

We hereby christen this the maiden voyage of our fabulous new dig-mobile! We set sail Tuesday afternoon with the sun at our backs and the wind in our hair. With the Admiral and his trusted crew, the ship sailed safely to its harbor off the shores of the mighty Ohio …

Gaby tries out the new equipment.

We had all the toys — ooops! We mean equipment — loaded inside to set up the Yankeetown site for two weeks of exploration. Good thing we have all this equipment, because we needed it.

As it turned out, the bridge to get to the site was closed! The only way to traverse it was via a quad (the one we purchased came accessorized with a Canuck).

The trailer and quad easily made it to the site, where we set up our area for this season’s excavations. This was a bit more trouble than anticipated. Lots of flooding over the last two years (when we last excavated at this location) has greatly altered the landscape and most of our location markers were long gone! Thankfully, we were able to find and use one of our permanent markers, hidden below some 6 or 7 inches of newly deposited sediment.

The quad and the trailer were not our only toys; we made use of a generously-loaned backhoe and operator to remove the thick, top layer of dirt that did not contain artifacts. Otherwise, we would have had to do a huge amount of shoveling under a cloudless sky with witheringly high humidity and heat that drenches you in sweat by 8 a.m.

We also spent time driving around cavernously bumpy mud-track roads along the edges of farm fields looking for alternate routes into the site. But the storms were coming! Luckily, we were able to go back to our excavation area and cover our freshly opened trenches with plastic sheeting before being chased back to the trucks by lighting strikes.

From the Yankeetown dig … until next time!

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Jello? Really?

Written by Jourdan Struck, sales associate with the Indiana Store

Food. Many things come to mind when I think of food. Mostly good, some not so good and others just down right strange. I have noticed since beginning this project that the food that we eat has changed. Or maybe it’s that in today’s world we have more options? Whatever the reason, people today seem to have branched out with their palate. I read somewhere that it wasn’t until the 1970s that American cuisine was significantly influenced by other cultures. If this is the case, that would explain why things have changed drastically since the 1950s.

As I perused the previous L.S. Ayres Tea Room cookbook something struck me; people liked Jello and Jello molds a lot. Maybe this is so striking to me because my childhood did not consist of eating much jello or using jello molds. All I remember is being entertained by Bill Cosby and his Jello commercials. I do realize that my childhood may have been abnormal due to the lack of Jello. I am quite sure that there is a logical explanation for the prevalence of Jello in the 1950s. Would someone please explain this to me?

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Early to Rise…Morning on the Mounds

Election Day came very early to Angel Mounds, but staffers who showed up early had quite a sight to behold.  The fog rolled slowly across the mounds, and in the peace of why-am-I-up-this-early morning, the sounds of civilization far away, it suddenly seemed like it was no longer 2010.  Perhaps the beauty of this Ohio River valley is what drew Mississippian cultures of Native Americans to the area in the first place, some 700 years ago!