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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 22, 2005

Iowa Archaeology Month Celebrates Iowa's First Preservationists

More than 200 years ago, European-American settlers in the Midwest believed they were settling a brand new world. The earthen mounds they built atop, the depressions they plowed under and the artifacts they encountered sometimes were noted as curiosities to be pondered but rarely were acknowledged as the remnants of a deeper human history. A few decades later, however, a number of individuals and organizations began to recognize and document the material record of this more ancient past, and even take the first tentative steps toward its protection.

This October, Iowa Archaeology Month 2005 will commemorate the contributions of major founding figures in the study and preservation of the state's archaeological past and encourage discussion about the context in which they unfolded and why they remain important today. Events will be held in communities throughout the state by local partnering organizations including libraries, museums, county conservation centers, historical societies and schools.

Two communities, Wapello and Storm Lake, have been selected to host special Iowa Archaeology Month 2005 celebrations. Storm Lake and northwest Iowa received early and significant archaeological study. It contains prehistoric "hill forts," the only known surviving example of a prehistoric agricultural field system, and has been the recent scene of some of the latest in archaeological research technology. It also has significant archaeological properties contained within two of the Iowa State Preserves system, one a National Historic Landmark. Wapello and southeast Iowa, were at the heart of the very earliest 19th century mound explorations by the Davenport and Muscatine Academy of Sciences, and produced fraudulent discoveries integral to a national debate concerning the origins of the earliest Americans. Southeast Iowa has archaeological sites contained within two Iowa State Preserves, one a National Historic Landmark.

Each year, the University of Iowa's Office of the State Archaeologist collaborates with partnering individuals and organizations around the state to plan and organize Iowa Archaeology Month. The purpose of this event is to encourage public participation in the awareness, understanding, and protection of Iowa's nonrenewable archaeological heritage.

This year, the office has received a $14,000 grant from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of Iowa Archaeology Month. Other major partners include the Iowa Archeological Society, Association of Iowa Archeologists and State Historical Society of Iowa, as well as local libraries, museums, county conservation centers and historical societies statewide. In the past 13 years, Iowa Archaeology Month programming has reached estimated audiences of more than 200,000 and provided more than 800 individual programs to 70 different communities.

Archaeology Month activities are designed for people of all ages, although some events, such as lectures and videos, are more appropriate for adults. Several events are geared specifically toward children, including Time Capsules from the Past and spear throwing. Most events are free of charge, although some venues have admission fees. Complete details are available on the Office of the State Archaeologist Web site, http://www.uiowa.edu/~osa/. The calendar will be updated as needed.

For more information about Iowa Archaeology Month, contact Lynn Alex at 319-384-0561, lynn-alex@uiowa.edu or visit the OSA web site http://www.uiowa.edu/~osa/

The Office of the State Archaeologist is a research unit of the University of Iowa. Its mission is to discover, disseminate and preserve knowledge of Iowa's human pre-history and history. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa appoints a State Archaeologist, who is a member of the UI Department of Anthropology. The State Archaeologist directs a program of statewide archaeological research, service, and education.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu; Program: Lynn Alex, 319-384-0561, lynn-alex@uiowa.edu