From the Desk of the Curator

Three images in banner: students working on rehousing artifacts, Curating Angel banner and event, rehoused boxes.

The Curating Angel Rehousing Project, funded through the FY2018 Save America’s Treasures grant program monitored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and National Park Service, began in earnest during the summer and continued into the fall with a team of between 10 and 15 students and staff. At this writing the curating Angel Team, led by Assistant Curator and anthropology graduate student Amanda Burtt, have rehoused 440 boxes of Angel faunal material. The rehousing project will preserve the collection and make it more accessible to researchers, and it is generating new research directions as we “re-excavate” the site through the rehousing process. Nearly every day we learn something new about the history, preservation and research potential of the legacy Angel collections. We have also started to compile zooarchaeology and bone tool comparative collections as part of the rehousing process. Over the summer and fall we got the word out about the rehousing project. In August, April Sievert, and Amanda Burtt took the Curating Angel project on the road to Angel Mounds as part of the sites birthday celebration. Sievert and Pope presented a paper on Curating Angel at the 63rd Annual Midwest Archaeological Conference, and Amanda Burtt organized a poster symposium, “Rediscovering Angel Mounds” for the 77th Annual Plains Anthropological Conference held in Bloomington, which included posters by 11 crew and staff involved with the project. This fall also marked a huge milestone for IU GBL collections. We have deposited 324 rehoused boxes of Angel Mounds collection materials into the new ALF3 repository! Before the end of the year that number will grow substantially!

Over the summer and fall, the archaeology collections received donations to our education collection from Cheryl Munson. We also received a transfer from the DNR Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology of the Wea Village Collection derived from three IUPUI field schools (1986-1988) directed by Rick Jones (former state archaeologist) and Neal Turbowitz. In addition to housing archaeological collections for the state of Indiana. The GBL is also a repository for federal archaeological collections. Over the summer and fall, two USDA Hoosier National Forest collections were transferred to the lab for curation. The curation staff also assisted 24 researchers with access to the collections and provided content for two exhibits, the IU Mobile Museum and the 800 Seasons: Change and Continuity in Bloomington, 1818-2018 exhibit, curated by Eric Sandweiss at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures.

On the research front, Pope presented findings from a microwear study she conducted on stone tools from several Central Plains sites at the 77th Annual Plains Anthropological Conference, and will follow this with a submission for publication to the journal Plains Anthropologist. Pope also conducted an assessment and pilot microwear study on a sample of end scrapers from the Mulvey Collection, site 12T4. This collection has great potential to inform on the protohistoric and early historic Wea/Miami trade in hides centered on the Middle Wabash valley. Research on the Black-era excavations at Angel Mounds is ongoing, oriented toward developing a collections-based research project focused on Mississippian house trajectories. Plans are also underway to begin research on the Angel type collections. Finally, Pope launched a project this fall to address the organizational structure of the GBL archaeological collections. One outcome of the collections structure project will be a collections-based publication, Indiana Archaeology through the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology Collections, which will aid future research and research-based exhibits that will enhance and support the newly envisioned IU Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Melody Pope's signature

Melody Pope, Curator of Collections

From the Desk of the Curator

From the desk of the curator

April 25, 2019

This winter and spring saw a flurry of activity on the lower level of the lab, including several upgrades to accommodate the work we will be doing to rehouse the Angel Mounds collections. With support from the Provost’s Office and the Office of the Vice President for Research, new electrical circuits were installed and a new air scrubber and additional dehumidifiers were purchased.  Rehousing the Angel Mounds Collection and moving the collections to ALF3 will be the focus of much of our work over the next three years.  The curation team has been doing extensive background research to understand how the collection was organized, assembling documents to aid in rehousing, building out databases, purchasing supplies, and conducting pilot rehousing test runs to develop work flows.  Collections assistant and Underwater Archaeology student Amanda Pavot has been writing blog posts on the pre-project work for a museum practicum project. You can find Amanda’s posts at The Dirt, the GBL’s blog. Blogs on the Rehousing Angel Mounds Project will continue over the duration of the project, so be sure to follow the project on our website and social media. Over the winter, the curation staff also processed three loans to IUPUI, two in partnership with Hoosier National Forest.  Researchers and students affiliated with IUPUI will work on collections to complete reports for the 2013 Angel Mounds field school, a pioneer homestead on HNF land, and will complete work on parts of the Rock House Hollow collection for a HNF NAGPRA request.

The GBL collections staff participated in several educational events and outreach activities. Professor Susan Alt’s Midwest Archaeology students were able to work with four collections over the course of the semester for hands-on-learning.  We also provided artifacts, images and consulting for the Indiana Historical Society exhibit, You Are There, 1939 Excavating Angel Mounds exhibit that opened in March 2019. Various staff members participated in the 2019 IU Powwow, Lotus Blossoms, and School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering Internship Fair; and conducted tours of our facility for Anthropology, SPEA, and Underwater Archaeology program classes.

Members of GBL staff with visiting educators Scott Bauserman and Rick Doss

Scott Bauserman, with the Westlane Middle School in Indianapolis, brought down a large artifact collection owned by the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township.  Our staff provided assistance to rebox the collections for its safe transport back to Indianapolis. 

I used the Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Archives personal papers of Glenn Black and Eli Lilly to research the early archaeology of Glenn Black and Eli Lilly at Angel Mounds for a paper presented at the 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.  You can access information about the symposia presentations here.

Melody Pope, Curator


The Angel Rehousing project is made possible in part by the support of
the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In September 2018, the GBL received a Save America’s Treasures grant to rehabilitate and rehouse about 2.8 million artifacts from Angel Mounds over the next 3 years. These grants are administered by the National Park Service in partnership with IMLS.

MORE ABOUT IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fall 2018: From the Desk of the Curator

December 6, 2018

 

If I had to pick one word to describe the summer and fall at the GBL it would be FIRST.  Librarian Kelsey Grimm and Collections Manager, Jennifer St. Germain officially joined our staff in July, growing our professional staff for the first time by two!  We installed a new exhibit in our main gallery, a first for the present staff.  In partnership with IU Themester 2018, Animal-Spirit-Human, opened in October, followed by two related programming events in early November.  We are excited about the exhibit and the improvements it brought to the Mentoria Headdy Hall.

In early fall we learned that the Save America’s Treasures grant proposal we submitted over the winter was selected for funding.  Curating Angel Mounds Legacy Collection was one of only seven Museum Collection grants awarded by the NPS through an interagency agreement with the IMLS.  This is an important first for GBL, and Angel Mounds.  For the FIRST time since arriving on the IU campus in the late 1960s, the grant will allow the Angel Mounds legacy collection, (1939-1983), to be organized and housed in archival-quality containers.  Rehousing the collection is a first step in its eventual transfer to the new ALF 3 collections facility on the IUB campus.  The Curating Angel project will also organize the associated excavation records, create a complete digitized catalogue of the 1939-1983 images, reorganize the research collections, and no doubt spawn many new collections-based research projects.  We are excited to embark on this important FIRST!

In addition to these important firsts, we were also busy hosting researchers including some familiar to the GBL, former Curator of Collections, Dru McGill, and other Southeastern and Midwestern archaeologists David Dye, Paul Welch, Cheryl Munson, Ed Herrmann, and Cheryl Claassen. These researchers took an interest in the whole pot collection, state site files, Angel Mounds and other late pre-contact collections, and materials analysis laboratory. We also provided images from the 1974 Prairie Creek Field School to the Daviess County Museum, for a new exhibit and we are currently collaborating with the Indiana Historical Society on the You Are There 1939: Exploring Angel Mounds exhibit, planned for a spring 2019 opening. It is exciting to see all of this interest in GBL collections and facilities!

 

 

 

Melody Pope, Curator

From the Desk of the Curator – Spring 2018

April 27, 2018

I enjoy writing this piece because it provides an opportunity to reflect on our work over the past several months and to share our accomplishments. Spring 2018 has seen a flurry of activity at the GBL, along with the seemingly never-ending snow flurries.

The curatorial staff continued the confronting collections initiatives with the submission of two major collections grants early in the new year. Curating Angel, submitted to the National Park Service Save Americas Treasures Program, is a project to rehabilitate the Angel Mounds legacy (1939-1983) collection of artifacts, associated paper documents and film images. The bulk collections will be prepared for curation at the new IU ALF 3 facility. The project also proposes to organize and rehouse the reference collection and create a complete digital catalog for the collection. Restoring Indigenous Heritage: Digitizing Tribal History Documents of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley Region, submitted to the Council on Library and Information Resources Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives, with assistance from federally recognized tribes, will digitize, describe and make accessible the Tribal History Document Series of the Great Lakes-Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection housed at the GBL. Other Confronting Collection projects underway involve the continued development of research tools in support of a complete digital archaeological collections catalog, as well as collections catalogs for archival records and images.

While collections initiatives are a current priority, the curatorial staff also supports research, exhibitions and publishing. Researching  Angel Foodways through the study of ceramics, animal bones and stone tools from a large unusual pit excavated by WPA crews at Angel Mounds is ongoing. Results to date have identified a variety of types of animal remain including a large quantity of deer, squirrel, turkey and geese, as well as some exceptionally large gar fish, golden eagle, crow and owl. An interesting discovery of extremely worn raccoon teeth, suggests the possibility that it was purposively fed or a village scavenger. Over 5,000 analyzed sherds from the pit reveal variation in the types and sizes of vessels.  The ceramic data will shed new light on food preparation and serving practices, ceramic manufacturing, and chronology. The analysis of stone and bone tools has identified numerous bone pins, awls, shell hoes, painted turtle shells and expedient flake tools, many of which were used in animal processing tasks.  We anticipate publishing on the results of this research in the fall.

In partnership with the Indiana State Museum and State Historic Sites, the GBL co-curated a catalog of 28 items as part of a new exhibit at Angel Mounds SHS/NHL, Eli Lilly and Glenn Black: The Story of Early Archaeology in Indiana. Eli Lilly’s life embodies the move from collecting antiquities to scientific archaeology. Lilly pursued his interests in Indiana’s past with his partner, Glenn Black.  Together, Lilly and Black launched the discipline of archaeology in Indiana. The exhibit will display for the first time many items from Lilly’s extensive collection. This spring we installed a new lobby and digital exhibit, Hats of Archaeology, in conjunction with the Mather’s Museum of World Cultures 2018 exhibit “Heads and Tales.” Hats of Archaeology continues the installation of images from our historic photograph archives and looks at the various head fashions worn by Indiana archaeologists throughout the last century. We are currently planning a new exhibit in the Mentoria Headdy Gallery for Themester 2018, the theme of which is “Animal/Human.”  The exhibit, whose opening will correspond with an invited panel of archaeologists and Native American scholars, will explore questions of the “Animal/Human” theme. In addition to the new gallery exhibit, plans are underway for new lobby displays as well.

Work is underway for a new fume hood installation, and this required relocating the over-sized collections. This was no small effort, and we thank all our staff who participated in this project. As always, when we engage with our collections we find a few new hidden gems, one of which will be on display this spring in the GBL lobby and featured in the June Artifact Spotlight on our webpage. Check it out!

Lastly, our staff participated and/or hosted a number of tours and stakeholder engagements, including a visit from President McRobbie and Governor Eric Holcomb, a NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) consultation on Angel Mounds (in partnership with IU NAGPRA), the Indiana Archaeology Council Spring Social and the annual Lotus Blossoms Program.

Melody Pope, Curator

 

Summer/Fall 2017 Newsletter

From the Desk of the Curator

Click here to read a message from Curator Melody Pope.


Summer Conferences

Learning NAGPRA, Santa Fe

In August, the Learning NAGPRA project held its third and final collegium meeting on the campus of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The group was assembled from across North America, from Washington State to Washington, D.C. Three days of meetings solidified curriculum materials to be used in college courses, case studies and web-based training, which will become available for use in spring 2018. We toured the art storage, curation, and museum studies teaching facilities at IAIA. We rounded out the trip with a visit to Saint Dominic Feast Day at Kewa Pueblo, where hundreds of dancers celebrated and many homes opened their doors to feed visitors delicious meals. Many thanks go out to our hosts for the meeting, Jessie Ryker-Crawford and Felipe Colón, faculty of the Museum Studies Program at IAIA.

-April Sievert

ALA Conference, Chicago

The American Library Association (ALA) conference was held in Chicago, Illinois, June 22-27 at McCormick’s Place. This is my second time attending the ALA conference and it still feels HUGE. I’m so incredibly grateful that I get to attend and hear the amazing things that are happening in libraries and archives all over the country (and, really, the world). The city is wonderful and I enjoyed my time just tooling around different bookshops and museums before the conference began. At McCormick’s Place, I attended sessions on instructing as a librarian; inclusion across libraries, archives, and museums; outreach practices; and giving voice to diverse collections through digitization. We have big dreams for the Kellar Library and assisting those who could use our incredible document collections. Look out for new developments in our library, coming soon!

-Kelsey Grimm


Fall Conferences

GBL staff had a busy fall conference season.

Curator Melody Pope, along with Director April Sievert, Collections Manger Jennifer St. Germain, Librarian Kelsey Grimm, and Registrar Terry Harley-Wilson, presented, “Confronting Collections at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology for the 21st Century” in a symposium titled “Archaeological Collections Management in the Midwest During the Curation Crisis,” at the 61st Annual Meeting of the Midwest Archaeological Conference, Inc., in Indianapolis.  Pope and Graduate student Molly Mesner also presented a paper at the Midwest Archaeological Conference, “Polishing Our Understanding: Microwear Analysis at the Mann Site.”

A few weeks later we were off to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the 74th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference where Pope and Sievert co-organized with former-GBL Curator Dru McGill a curation symposium titled “Innovative and Best Practice Approaches to Legacy Collections-Based Research in the Southeast.” Both Pope and Sievert also contributed papers in the symposium.  Pope presented “From Research to Exhibit Development and Beyond:  Unleashing the Impact of Legacy Collections at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology,” and Sievert presented “Repatriation, Records, and the Legacies of Collecting.”

“The acknowledgements of women working in archaeology has notably flourished in recent memory, but who were the pioneering American women of our profession?” (from the Abstract of “Women at Work: Acknowledging Women’s Legacy in Archaeology”)Click here to read more about the poster symposium our Librarian, Kelsey, and Leslie Drane organized at this year’s Midwestern Archaeological Conference.


Collections News

We’re almost done cataloging our general collection of books! This process started last year and was greatly aided by two Jesse H. and Beulah Chanley Cox Scholar awardees who spent eight hours each per week working on copy-cataloging our books. We are organizing our collection according to the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system which groups similar subjects together. Our catalog of books has been made available online, too! This means anyone can search our collection of books by title, author, subject, publishing year from the comfort of their home. Just visit our LibraryThing catalog to see for yourself!

The Glenn A. Black Lab accepted several donated collections over the summer and fall:

The Charles Theodore Jacobs Collections

The family of Charles Theodore Jacobs donated field notes and photographs from the personal papers of Charles Jacobs, who was a member of the 1949 Angel Mounds field school.  This donation was very timely and will be a great contribution to the Angel Mounds Field School Archive.  Click here to read more about Charles Jacobs’ archaeology adventures.

The Timmy Kendall Collection

Timmy Kendall donated his collection of 28 projectile points that he had collected during his tenure at Purdue University where we conducted agricultural field research between 1975 and 1977.  During his field inspections we collected projectile points from the surface of sites in Tippecanoe County.  Mr. Kendall’s points will be integrated into our projectile point comparative collection.

The Kent Vickery Collection

Kent Vickery (1942-2011) earned his doctorate in Anthropology at Indiana University in 1976.  His dissertation is titled “An Approach to Inferring Archaeological Variability.”  He retired as Professor of Anthropology from the University of Cincinnati.  Collections and field records from some of his early field work in Indiana conducted at Mounds State Park, Yankeetown, Angel Mounds, and the Mann site were transferred from the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology to the GBL in late November. Thanks to DHPA staff Rachel Sharkey, Megan Copenhaver, and DNR Forestry Archaeologist A.J. Ariens for facilitating the transfer.

Federal Collections

The GBL curates federal collections for the USDA Hoosier National Forest and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC).  Over the summer and fall we received three survey collections from Hoosier National Forest and two survey collections from NSWC.


Exhibits

Out With the Old: “Shawnee Pottery”

In an ongoing effort to reclaim the beauty of traditional Shawnee pottery, a collaboration was launched between archaeologists, scholars, and tribal members to rediscover the ancient ceramic technologies that were disrupted by European colonization.  This resulting pottery was on display at the Glenn Black Lab as part of the 2016 Themester.

In With the New: “Mapping Indiana Territory”

In keeping with the Themester 2017 theme of “Diversity, Difference, Otherness,” Glenn Black Lab staff, Native historians, and scholars collaborated to create an exhibit that demonstrated Indiana’s representation in maps.  It juxtaposes images of examples of EuroAmerican-made maps and images of indigenous representations of the Indiana and Ohio Valley landscapes, in order to point out how problematic it is to favor western world views and ways of knowing over others.


Field Work

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the GBL, and the bicentennial anniversaries of the State of Indiana, Monroe County, and Indiana University, we feel that there has been no better time to emphasize local archaeological research and resources.

To explore the deeper history of Bloomington and wider Monroe County, the GBL initiated a survey project during the summer of 2017 to identify and document new archaeological sites in the region. The GBL received a grant award from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. This grant enabled GBL Associate Research Scientist Elizabeth Watts Malouchos and a crew of intrepid students to investigate eight previously unsurveyed nature preserves in the Bean Blossom Creek drainage basin in the northern half of Monroe County. Although the Bean Blossom Creek survey is still ongoing, thus far the crew has surveyed a great deal of acreage, dug over 1600 shovel test pits, and identified just over 50 new archaeological sites ranging in origin from the Archaic to Historic Periods. In the process, students have gained experience and learned new skills in survey methodology, archaeological excavations, artifact identification and processing, avoiding yellow jackets, and charming neighbor dogs. It has certainly been a successful and enjoyable summer and fall of fieldwork!


Volunteer and Student Appreciation

Students

           Bicentennial Intern: Maclaren Guthrie

           Collections: Colin Gliniecki, Oliver Hourihan, Darlene McDermott, Jennifer Musgrave, and Catherine Smith

           Library: Logan Carte and Lydia Lutz

           Programming: Hannah Rea

 Volunteers

           Collections: Marge Faber and Pat Harris

Thank you to all who gave their time this semester!

From the Desk of the Curator – Summer/Fall 2017

December 2017

Melody Pope, Curator

This summer and fall have been about confronting the collections, particularly the GBL legacy Angel Mounds and Lilly collections.   Collections Assistant and bioanthropology graduate student Catherine Smith dove into the field records associated with the Angel Mounds Collection and began systematically compiling information on mortuary and archaeological contexts needed to complete NAGPRA inventories.  Collections Assistant Alex Elliott has assisted in time studies completed on selected Angel Mounds artifact and faunal collections, which resulted in our discovery that we have some mold issues to confront in our legacy collections. Collections Manager Jennifer St. Germain designed new data entry templates for both osteology and archaeology for NAGPRA documentation.

This year’s Indiana Archaeology Month poster and t-shirt theme, Eli Lilly’s Legacy, had us confronting the Lilly Collection for suitable images for both items, as requested by the Indiana Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

The 2017 Archaeology Month Poster and T-shirt featuring two birdstones from the Lilly Collection.

This semester we were happy to host two museum practicum student projects, both of which are also focused on the Lilly Collection.  Jennifer Musgrave began compiling biographies of the Lilly Collection accessions as part of a museum practicum project.  The Lilly Collection consists of over 35,000 items and 76 accessions.  This project is opening doors for exploring the role of private collectors and collecting in the first half of the 20th century and is engaging us in new ways with the Lilly Collection, its various “collectors” and the changing and sometimes contentious relationships between academics, collectors, and collectors-turned underwriters of archaeology. This project is not only spawning new research and exhibit themes, but it will also be incorporated into a planned Collections Catalogue publication.  For the second project, Darlene McDermott began the task of documenting the GBL whole pot collection.  For this project we are developing descriptive metadata fields and protocols for photographing each vessel, starting with accession 18, which is part of the Lilly Collection.

President Michael A. McRobbie hosted an IU Collections Summit in early September, which provided lots of good feedback and an opportunity to meet other IU curatorial staff.  We are gearing up for lots of collections care work in the coming months leading up to the opening of the new planned IU collections facility, ALF3, short for Auxiliary Library Facility 3 (yes, there is an ALF 1 and 2).

In keeping with the Lilly legacy theme, we had the opportunity to visit the Lilly House in Indianapolis, which also serves as the Indianapolis residence of IU President McRobbie and his wife Laurie.  We were invited to the house by Laurie to view a large wooden map created by Eli Lilly to mark the locations of archaeological sites he and Glenn Black had compiled throughout the state.  We are hoping soon to transfer the map to the GBL for public display. Not only is the map a legacy to the work of Eli Lilly and Glenn Black, but it will hopefully spawn new work and additions to the Indiana state site file.

A portion of the Eli Lilly map showing the locations of archaeological sites.

With the help of volunteers Marge Faber and Pat Harris, the first phase of work to reorganize the education collection was completed. We are looking forward to having the collection updated in our database to facilitate the next phase of work, which will identify theme-based teaching modules.

And last but not least, work was completed for a NEH grant for rehousing the historic photographic collections over the summer, which included the purchase of a new freezer for housing negatives and prints.  Collections Assistant Bailey Foust has digitized over 5,000 black-and-white negatives and 6,000 color slides, many of which are available on Indiana University’s Image Collections Online.

Melody Pope, Curator of Collections

Spring 2017 Donation Summaries

May 1, 2017

by Melody Pope, Curator of Collections

Robert F. Braunlin, M.D., and G. Louise Braunlin Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of significant artifacts, books and related documents from the family of Robert F. Braunlin, M.D., and G. Louise Braunlin.  Dr. Robert F. Braunlin was an avid collector of Native American material culture especially in the 1930s and 1940s.  The collection was passed down to Dr. Braunlin’s son William.  William Braunlin’s son, also Robert F. Braunlin, and his sons completed the transfer to the GBL in December 2016.  The items will be part of the laboratory’s permanent archaeological collection, and will also be part of the donated collections that explore the practice of collecting antiquities during the early part of the twentieth century.   The collection numbering nearly 1,200 items includes ceramic vessels, pipes, atlatl weights, bone tools, plummet stones and numerous chipped and ground stone tools.

 

Jeremiah Mattix Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of a small collection of artifacts from the family Jeremiah Mattix.  Mr. Mattix farmed in Indiana Creek Township, Pulaski County, and Liberty Township, White County, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; this donated collection reflects the collecting of Native American artifacts turned up by his plow.  The collection was passed down to the granddaughter of Jeremiah Mattix, Orpha Wickersham, and then to her executor who was the mother of David Lottes of Fairmount, Illinois.  Mr. Lottes donated the items to the GBL on behalf of Jeremiah Mattix.  The items will be part of the laboratory’s permanent archaeological collection, and will also be part of the donated collections that explore the practice of collecting antiquities during this time period.  The collection includes numerous projectile points that will be part of a project that maps spatial distributions of point types and raw materials across land forms and regions in Indiana.

 

Anonymous Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of a small collection of artifacts from an anonymous donor.  This collection includes numerous projectile points found in Tippecanoe County near Lafayette, Indiana, between 1975 and 1977.  The donor was affiliated with Purdue University at the time and was involved in corn research that required traveling the county and surveying fields for weeds, insects and diseases.  The collection will be part of a project that maps spatial distributions of point types and raw materials across land forms and regions in Indiana.

SAA Conference

April 28, 2017

by Melody Pope, Curator of Collections

In March, Curator Melody Pope traveled to Vancouver for the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.  Pope presented a paper titled “Exploring the Ineffable Aspects of Stone Tools” in the symposium “Integrating Functional Analysis: Contributions from Use-Wear Analysis within the Broader Context of Human Behavior in Prehistoric North America,” organized by Katherine Sterner and Robert Ahlrichs.  She also attended several informative sessions on collections management, digital archaeology and heritage, collections based research, and archives. While in Vancouver Pope had the opportunity to visit the University of British Columbia – Vancouver Campus Museum of Anthropology and took in some sights while hiking the City of Vancouver sea wall.

Schedule of events at the SAA

Hiking along the sea wall

A Conversation with the Curator

November 1, 2016

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

Recently, I sat down with Melody Pope, Curator of Collections for the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology (GBL), who is nearing the one-year anniversary holding the position.  She describes the job as one of oversight and stewardship, since she is in charge of complying with curation agreements the GBL has made with federal agencies and managing the collection, among other things.

Pope has had a long relationship with Indiana and the GBL.  Born and raised in southern Indiana, she worked at the GBL during her time as an undergraduate student at Indiana University, and said that this link is part of what attracted her to the position, seeing it as an opportunity to return to the Hoosier State.  This new job was not only a geographical shift from her previous position at the University of Iowa, but also a career shift.

Much of Pope’s previous work has been in compliance archaeology, programs that operate under the National Historic Preservation Act and various state and local guidelines to survey land considered for development, and ensure the work will not disturb any archaeological sites.

“It’s doing archaeology for historical preservation,” Pope said. “Now I’m in more of a museum-kind of position.”

One skill she has utilized throughout her career is photography.

“I’ve always had an interest in photography as a hobby,” she said. “It was a skill I was able to build and utilize in my work.”

Pope began in film photography, and was the designated photographer on three archaeological expeditions to Iraq during her time as a doctoral student at Binghamton University.

“It was a lot of fun to be the photographer for the expedition,” she said. “I never in a million years imagined I would go to Iraq and do archaeology.”

Pope traveled to the country in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  While there, the American and British archaeologists on the team lived on site in field camps: “Living archaeology 24/7.  It’s fun if you like roughing it.”

She said it was relatively easy to get the correct permits from the Iraqi government, though there still was plenty of red tape to get through.  There was a representative from the Department of Antiquities constantly overseeing the progress, but otherwise, Pope said, the experience was not too different from doing archaeology here.

“We got back and within two weeks, Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait and started the First Gulf War,” Pope recalled.

As for the current situation in Iraq and surrounding countries, many archaeologists are working to make people aware of how manipulative governments can be of archaeological finds.  The manipulation of archaeology to create ideologies about a past the governments want people to believe often leads to the destruction of historical sites and artifacts.

“I think a lot of anthropological archaeologists are becoming activists in their work,” Pope said.

Some devote their time and energy to work like investigating war crimes and excavating mass graves.  Others take a different route: “A lot of folks simply shift their work into safer areas.”

“It’s been hard to get back over there and assess the damages,” she said.  And though it’s important to preserve history, “People’s lives are more important than the past, when you get down to it.”

Preserving culture and bringing the human aspect back into focus is also part of the mission at the Glenn A. Black Lab.

“Early on, the lab was very much a central hub for Indiana archaeology.”

Like many similar institutions, inconsistent record-keeping practices have led to challenges for collections management today.  After early excavations, many artifacts received only basic cataloguing, and some are even in the same bags they were put in when they were originally excavated in the 1940s, Pope said.  The lab today is focused on balancing museum work to rehabilitate collections, create new exhibits and conduct research.

“With so much time having passed since most collections came into the lab it can be a real challenge to rehouse collections, to put things back together again,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of work cut out for us.”

The strong museum identity was part of the early mission of the GBL with over half of its square footage dedicated to storage and display of artifacts.  The laboratory part of its identity comes with research and teaching opportunities that involve diverse scholars and stakeholders.  The combined museum and research laboratory identity allows the GBL to serve double-duty as a place to conduct research, educate students and engage with communities interested in Ohio Valley archaeology and history.

“We’re collaborating more and more with the public,” Pope said. “It’s all integrated here, and it’s a really unique place.”