Angel Rehousing Project, Part 4

Amanda’s 4th blog about the ongoing Angel Rehousing project

by Amanda Pavot

Time for another Angel Update!

I’m still working on inventorying the boxes of the Type Collection. At first, I worked on a box of mostly projectile points, especially small triangular points. Then I worked on an especially heavy box of groundstone, which includes items like stones they used as hammers and celts (stone axes). Now I’m working on a box of worked bone, which includes bone tools and pins. One neat thing about working in a museum like this is the variety of interesting artifacts you get to see! Holding an object that was carved into by a person hundreds of years ago can really make you feel things.

There are a lot of other projects connected to this Angel Rehousing project. One of these is the very important job of repatriating artifacts and human remains. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is a law that, among other things, sets the procedure of returning certain Native American artifacts to their related communities. It also reflects changes in thought, specifically how archaeologists in the early 20th century think in terms of family connections to communities of Native Americans. Excavations at Angel Mounds began in the early-to-mid 20th Century, so human remains and objects associated with burials ended up in the Glenn Black’s collection.

What we call the “NAGPRA Team” has already been working on sorting out the human remains and AFOs (Associated Funerary Objects, or objects buried with the deceased) to be repatriated. There is an original list of AFOs that is used to find the artifacts in the collection that were associated with burials. Each object is pulled from the bulk collection and carefully documented; they are measured, weighed, and identified and described in more detail than what was done previously. An object noted in the original logs as simply “animal bone” will now have more pertinent information listed in the database. The Angel Rehousing project will end up playing an important role in this as well.

While AFOs have already been pulled from the bulk collection, sometimes, despite our best efforts, objects can be missed. As we sort through each individual artifact to be rehoused, we can look them up in the database where it will say if it is an AFO or not. Any found AFOs can then be separated out to be repatriated. In other words, the rehousing gives us the chance to go through every artifact to ensure no AFOs are missed.

There’s also the rehousing of the faunal artifacts, aka all the animal bones. A lot of times animal remains were buried with humans, or animal carcasses were discarded near burials. While most of the human remains have already been separated from the rest of the artifacts, it can be very difficult to identify small bone fragments, and some human remains have been found mixed up with animal remains. As we rehouse faunal artifacts, we will be going through the bones to double-check that no human remains are left behind, ensuring that, if any are found, they can be treated with the respect they deserve and be repatriated.

I’ll end this post with exciting news; rehousing starts this week! Next time, I’ll be back with more specifics about that!


In September 2018, the GBL was awarded 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 the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This “Curating Angel” project will allow us to provide safe, long-term preservation of the artifacts and associated documentation from archaeological work at Angel Mounds and make these collections more accessible for research and education.

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.

(The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.)

Angel Rehousing Project, Part 3

by Amanda Pavot

Iiiiiitt’s that time again! Another post about the Angel Rehousing Project!

I suppose it’s about time I talk about why this Rehousing project is being done in the first place. Getting artifacts out of their old bags and boxes, and into newer, nicer ones is all well and good, but why are we doing it? The short answer is because we need to update the collection to modern curation standards, but what does that even mean?

The Rehousing is only part of an overall “Curating Angel” project. The big, main part, of course. Organizing associated records, like photographs, reports, and field notes, is also a part of this project. Eventually, most of the collection will be moved to a place that has better climate control. The goal is to update, organize, inventory, and digitize the collection of artifacts for easier access, to promote research. By updating the storage and documentation to modern standards, the collection can be better preserved and shared.

~Issues in Curation!~

A small example of some of the issues we and potential researchers have now:

Let’s say someone is interested in studying a selection of artifacts from the collection, and requests the opportunity to look at them. We go to find the artifacts by using location information from the database; they should be in a certain box. We go to that box only to discover that they aren’t there. They were either A) moved and no one left any notes or documentation saying when or where they were moved, or B) discarded, because in the past people discarded things for almost no reason. It can take a while to track down what happened to the artifacts, if we still have them, and in the meantime the researcher can’t do the research they want to do. Through rehousing and documenting, will have an updated and more accurate collections database and better accessibility.

The Save America’s Treasures Grant is what is making this project possible. You can find out more about the grant in a link below each of these posts. It was given for this project because Angel Mounds is a culturally and historically important site, so the preservation of its collection is vital. I might talk more about that in detail in a later post. But this grant is part of the reason I’m doing these blogs! Since it’s federally funded, it’s important for the public to know how this money is going to be used.

This past week, I’ve continued inventorying one of the Type Collection boxes. Type collections are used more often than the rest of the collection, so for ease of access a lot of the artifacts have already been sorted through and put into archival bags. But it’s been a long journey of “look up each individual artifact in the data base and make sure the label is correct, but also you sometimes have to try and decipher labels you can barely read.” This has also been a bit of a test run to see how long inventorying one box of the bulk type collection might take. If it sounds monotonous or tedious, it’s not a problem (for me, at least) because I like steady work and also sorting stuff.

Before I end this post, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who visited that GBL table at the Indiana University Powwow on April 6th! I wasn’t able to stay very long, but we met a lot people and had some good conversations! I had a great time and I’ll definitely be back next year!


In September 2018, the GBL was awarded 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 the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This “Curating Angel” project will allow us to provide safe, long-term preservation of the artifacts and associated documentation from archaeological work at Angel Mounds and make these collections more accessible for research and education.

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.

(The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.)

Angel Rehousing Project, Part 2

The second blog post by Amanda Pavot about the ongoing Angel Rehousing project.

by Amanda Pavot

Hello again! The last couple of weeks have been busy busy at the Lab as usual, so here’s a bit of an update on what we’ve been up to!

While big-picture details of the Angel Project are ironed out by other staff members, workers like myself finish up the other projects that need to be done first. This has mostly entailed cleaning up the inventories of other collections and deep searches through archives for various info. Honestly, all the interesting things I’ve found digging through papers from the 1920s through the 1980s could be a blog series all on its own, but that’s not what THIS blog is about. Since there have also been some more projects pertaining to the Angel Mounds collection specifically, those are what will be discussed here.

Digitizing catalog cards

While we have a digital catalog of the artifacts in the collection, the original physical catalog cards that were written up over decades to inventory the Angel Mounds collection are still occasionally referenced. To preserve and make finding them easier, they are in the process of being digitized. There are literally hundreds of thousands of them, so some cards take priority to be scanned first. The cards that contain information about artifacts in the “type collection,” a collection of the best examples of different kinds of artifacts found at the site, are what I just finished working on. There are something like 1,200 of them, so it took literally weeks of scanning almost non-stop for hours at a time in order to get it done. Part of this blog post and most of the last one were written during the process of scanning catalog cards for the sake of a change of pace.

I’ve since started doing inventory of which artifacts of the type collection are in which boxes, which is much cooler because ARTIFACTS. It’s still incredibly important work, because a proper inventory will make finding and keeping track of the artifacts much easier. It’s also a bit of a test for the kind of inventory work that’s going to need to be done to the rest of the Angel Mounds collection. Seeing the kinds of issues that pop up, knowing the amount of time that it takes to inventory these boxes, as well as the personal experience of doing the inventory, will help prep for when the Rehousing gets started. For example, the artifact labels, the numbers written directly on the artifacts, were written on with stuff that has a tendency to chip off, making the numbers on some of the artifacts nearly illegible. Especially when you have a lot of them bagged together, knocking up against each other and rubbing the labels off. I didn’t realize something like that could be a problem. But now that I have more experience reading the handwriting of whoever wrote the labels, this isn’t a big issue since I can guess the correct number by the fragments left behind (and confirm it with info from the database, of course).

cleaning the angel room

As of this writing, we are also in the process of cleaning up the Angel Room, which houses the artifacts, as best we can. This includes vacuuming the fronts of all of the cardboard boxes in the room, of which there are literally hundreds, and wiping down the shelves where boxes aren’t currently sitting. After that comes cleaning the floors. The goal is to get rid of as much dust and dirt as possible for the safety of those who go in there and also for the sake of general cleanliness.

So the process goes like this: put on a respirator to protect you from breathing in bad things; put on a paper gown and nitrile gloves to keep bad things from getting on you; strap on your backpack vacuum cleaner (complete with HEPA filter!); and vacuum box-by-box, shelf-by-shelf, aisle-by-aisle. Then, go back with some cleaning wipes and wipe down the empty shelves. Our collections manager, Jennifer, has been working on doing the top two rows of every aisle because they’re so high up that you need a ladder to clean them. Then Hannah, another collections assistant like myself, or I go in later to clean the rest of it. It can take an hour to do an aisle, so we started doing an aisle each per day. There’s a sign-up sheet outside the room that shows who has cleaned what and, with the progress we’re making, we may even be able to start vacuuming the floors by the time this is posted.

I feel like we all have been anxiously waiting to begin rehousing, but the preparations beforehand are critical to beginning a project as large as this. Especially a project that’s as complex and important as the Angel collection. But little by little, this project is coming together! “Step 1” inspections of the archive, catalog, and bulk collection of artifacts and “Step 2” preparation to rehousing the collection will get us to “Step 3” – the Rehousing! I’ll be back next week with more updates on the Rehousing project and the collections assistant experience! 


In September 2018, the GBL was awarded 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 the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This “Curating Angel” project will allow us to provide safe, long-term preservation of the artifacts and associated documentation from archaeological work at Angel Mounds and make these collections more accessible for research and education.

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.

(The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.)

Angel Rehousing Project, Part 1

The first blog post by Amanda Pavot about the ongoing Angel Rehousing project.

by Amanda Pavot

Hello everyone! This is Amanda Pavot, and about once a week for the next month or so I’m going to be posting updates about our Angel Rehousing project, which is starting soon. But some things first:

What the rehousing is

Getting the artifacts of the Angel Mounds collection out of their current bags and boxes, and putting them in archival-quality bags and boxes. It will help conserve them, but also most of them are in the original brown paper bags that they were put in directly after being taken out of the ground decades ago (literally 60-70+ years ago for a lot of them!), and that’s just gross. And there are around 2.5 million individual artifacts that need to be rehoused, so this is a big project.

Preparation for something of this scale involves a lot of logistics. Everything from “What room are the artifacts going to be rehoused in?” and “How many artifacts need to be re-housed per day in order to finish in the time we need to do this?” to “How do we budget this?” Hiring people, needing to schedule respirator fittings (more on that later), buying the bags and boxes needed, and so many other tasks need to be completed and questions answered before the project can even start.

But those are all problems for people above me. I’m just a grunt, which means most of my preparation has been to finish all of these other small projects and tie up other loose ends before this big project starts. But that’s for another blog post. The task done in preparation that I’m going to talk about today is in a little segment I’m going to call:

~Issues in Curation~

Mold! It’s there. In the room that the Angel collection is currently stored in. In the boxes that the artifacts are currently stored in. It should go unsaid that this is Not a Good Thing, but what do those working in a museum have to do in a situation like this? How does this affect the project?

There have been some delays in starting this project, this being one of the reasons. Originally, there was a plan to do the actual rehousing of the artifacts in the archives, which is next to the Angel Room. This is because there is a nice big table in the archives that would fit several people + boxes + artifacts, and also some computers if needed, and it would just be the kind of place to work on this project. But with the whole mold revelation, plans on how the rehousing was going to work had to be remade. Disturbing of the artifacts has to be confined to the Angel Room in order to help contain the mold, but it also has available space to work. So now not only do we have to decide how working in a different and much more confined space is going to be done, we also have mold cleanup to worry about. (Though again, most of those decisions I don’t have to worry about; but as one of the people doing the rehousing, I’ll be helping refine some strategies since I’ll actually be working in there).

Mold mitigation and cleaning affected artifacts is going to need to be taken into account. Cleaning the room itself (vacuuming, big expensive air scrubber, etc.) is also a factor that wasn’t there before. So is the protection of anyone working in there.

Last week was Respirator Fitting Time! Which I didn’t realize was a thing, though it makes sense in hindsight. Also training! To comply with OSHA standards, there was an official University training module we had to do online, plus a health form we had to fill out. Then someone from IU EHS (Indiana University Environmental Health Services) came over to help us with fitting. The respirators that we’re going to use are the ones that look a lot like medical face masks except they filter bad stuff like mold, so they need to be fitted to make sure they properly seal to your face. The model that we have didn’t fit the face shape of a couple of people, so we’ll be fitted for a different model eventually, but the one we tried fit me! So that means I’ll probably get to be one of the people to vacuum off the tops of the hundreds of cardboard boxes in the Angel Room, which is the next project that needs to be done before rehousing can get started. Yay!

Thanks for reading this far! I’ll keep posting more updates and changes in this project through the end of the semester. I hope that anyone who reads this will gain a little insight into what it’s like to work in a museum or other institution that houses large collections of artifacts like these.


In September 2018, the GBL was awarded 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 the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This “Curating Angel” project will allow us to provide safe, long-term preservation of the artifacts and associated documentation from archaeological work at Angel Mounds and make these collections more accessible for research and education.

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.

(The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.)

Angel Archives, Box 56

December 10, 2018

by Victoria Kvitek

Continuing where my last blog post left off, I am now about halfway through Indiana newspaper articles from the 1960s that mention Angel Mounds. I started coming across much longer pieces about the site mid-1964. These articles go into depth about Indiana’s pre-history as hypothesized based on findings at Angel. Earlier pieces have touched on these details but more frequently announced events that would discuss the excavation and its findings, or focused more on the political and economic logistics of acquiring and excavating Angel. My first explanation for this change was that by the mid-60s a) a critical mass of information had been collected about Angel, b) Angel had been a national monument and state park for a sufficient amount of time, and c) a level of widespread publicity about the site had been reached such that the public was finally informed and interested enough to know more about Angel as a place that they were welcomed to visit and feel entitled to inform themselves about as average citizens given the right and ability to learn about this heritage…that is, the mid-60s marked a transition of Angel’s status from the domain of academia in concert with governing bodies to that of academia in concert with the public….

But, a discovery made in the early stages of Glenn Black Lab’s collaboration with the Indiana Historical Society for an upcoming exhibit about Angel Mounds has caused me to question this theory, and wonder whether the lack of lengthy, juicy news pieces on Angel prior to the mid-1960s was due instead to a gap in the archive database I have been using.

Newspaper article with title "Washington Notebook..."
These articles go into depth about Indiana’s pre-history as hypothesized based on findings at Angel. Earlier pieces have touched on these details but more frequently announced events that would discuss the excavation and its findings, or focused more on the political and economic logistics of acquiring and excavating Angel.

Angel archives box #56 holds a folder of newspaper clippings from 1938 and 1939 published in the Evansville Courier/Evansville Courier and Press There are multipage articles about Angel, covering its purchase and the politics surrounding its acquisition as well as early findings at the site, quotes from Glenn Black, community and government opinion about the excavation, and large cartoons relating to these debates, along with illustrated and elaborated maps of the site. These articles are not included in the Newspaper Archive IU Libraries-linked database I have been using, and the Evansville Courier has not appeared on any database of digitized news articles I have found so far. Further, Hannah Rea has noted that newspaper articles in different Indiana cities early in the Angel excavation used different terms for the site, e.g. “Indian mounds”, “ancient mounds”. Searching for these phrases may pull up longer articles that include in depth information and conjecture about the project’s findings like that seen in the pieces from the 60s sampled above.

“Angel Mounds” in Indiana newspaper articles, Update 1: First Half of the 20th Century (1923-1959)

November 8, 2018

by Victoria Kvitek

The Project

For the past 3 weeks I have been searching IU Library’s Newspaper Archive resource for mentions of Angel Mounds archaeological site in Indiana newspapers following the site’s discovery early in the 20th century. The first article I found was from 1923, in the Evansville Crescent. This earliest mention is the only one from the ’20s, and the city the newspaper was from makes sense as Angel is located near Evansville. The short article is titled “Geology Class Explorers,” and briefly details a class trip to Angel, ‘six mounds that shed light on pre-historical America.’

The Newspaper Archive allows me to sort the remaining search results by decade, showing that there were  three mentions of Angel in the ’30s, all from 1938, the year the 400 acres of land Angel sits on was purchased by the Indiana Historical Society; 32 from the ’40s, illustrating the co-evolution of the public’s interest in the pre-history of Indiana that could be revealed by Glenn Black’s excavations and the state’s interest in and financial support of Angel Mounds’ development as a state park and historical monument; 42 from the ’50s which describe society meetings featuring guest lecturers (including Glenn A Black) and documentary screenings about the Angel excavation at local primary and secondary schools, weekend historical tours—free and open to the public—of Angel and other state monuments and important sites, IU field schools, and plans to consider Angel for national monument status.

Short summaries of each article’s focus are recorded in an Excel document along with the date, year, and city of publication, the title of article, and the newspaper in which it appeared.

Greensburg Daily News, 1941

Tipton Tribune, 1946

Highlights

1) Greensburg, 1941: “Angel Mounds of Evansville of Interest”

This article was of interest to me because it was the first mention I found describing an interaction between Indiana University and Angel Mounds/Glenn A. Black: that Black lectured at Alumni Hall in April 1941. I found the article in the Greensburg Daily News, and provides a lot of information about the early phases of the discovery of Angel Mounds, its purchase (including land formerly part of a farm owned by the Angel family, the site’s namesake), and excavation.

2) Tipton, 1946: “Round Town With The Tribune”

This is my favorite article so far: a column in an issue of the Tipton Tribune published just over a year after V-E Day includes a suggestion for a new veteran’s rehabilitation program from Glenn Black: participation in the Angel excavation. According to the article, Black had said that such a program would entail “light work…would get the men out of doors and give them something to think about besides themselves.”

3) Seymour, 1949: “Junior Red Cross Here Completes Book on Hoosierana For Chileans”

I think this one is so sweet: the Junior Red Cross chapter at a local high school had received a book about life in Chile/South America from a Chilean high school. They were working on compiling their own scrapbook-style guide to Seymour, IN/the Hoosier state in general to send to the Chilean students with the “goodwill ambassador” who would be traveling to visit the high school in the coming months.  The Seymour students included Angel Mounds among “drawings of famous historical objects” highlighted in the book.

4) Terre Haute, 1950: “Kiwanis Club Observes National Newspaper Week, Speaker Tells Wonders of Southern Indiana”

This last article is especially interesting in the context of the current climate regarding the media. A professor of journalism and then director of communications at IU, Mr. Laurence Wheeler, came to speak at a meeting of the Kiwanis Club about the important services that newspapers provide. He gave a ‘verbal column’ on the important history of Southern Indiana as an example of the kind of information that could be shared most effectively in newspaper form.

Community life: the Midwest of the early 20th century

Hoosier Historical Institutes Series

Spring, Summer, and Fall sessions—ranging from a few days to several weeks long—were attended by school teachers, professors, married couples, and other interested community members from towns across the state. The inaugural series were put on by the Indiana Historical Society, but before long other community groups and historical societies organized their own smaller versions of the institutes: weekend tours and field trips led by historians, archaeologists, and other lecturers and lay enthusiasts.

Summer 2018 Internship

My name is Brianna McLaughlin and this summer I interned at the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology- James Kellar Library. To give you a little background about myself, I graduated from the University of Evansville in 2014 with a degree in History and Archaeology. I’m currently working on my Masters of Library Science with a specialization in Archives. During my undergraduate degree, I learned pretty quickly that even though I love archaeology as a discipline, field archaeology wasn’t for me. Alternatively, an opportunity to use my knowledge of archaeology in an archives space was absolutely what I wanted.

I started the summer compiling an inventory of the associated documents for the archaeological artifacts housed downstairs. I went through about 16 cabinets full of boxes and recorded what information they contained as well as if anything required archival boxes. Even as I was creating this inventory, staff members were asking me questions about my findings and using the document. It was clear that what I was creating was of immediate importance to the Glenn Black Lab. I’ve known many students who have had internships in which they were not entrusted with projects that would make a difference to the institution, so I’m grateful that I was able to contribute.

The project that lasted for the remainder of the summer was accessioning and processing the papers of the institution’s namesake, Glenn Black. I began with about 15 boxes of various sizes of paper materials, most of which had been organized by Glenn Black, and some that hadn’t been organized at all. I also had about a dozen three dimensional items that were in an exhibit at the beginning of the summer. I started my first pass to see what I was dealing with. A large portion of Black’s papers were reference materials that he used for classes, lectures, and publications. He had many copies of each, so I was able to discard all but the original and the best copy. Just this process significantly minimized the collection. I also discarded and replaced the onion paper dividers between images. At this point, I began organizing the collection. I maintained Black’s organization to the greatest extent possible, even those that made me cringe such as arranging documents chronologically with the most recent at the front of the folder. I determined that there were 11 series within the collection, and thus began refoldering everything, making sure none of the folders became thicker than ¼ inch and each archival box was not too full. By the end of this process, I had 24 uniformly sized Hollinger boxes full of folders. Finally, it was time to write a finding aid. Unfortunately, I only had a week left at this point and therefore didn’t have time to learn EAD and create a finding aid using the software. Instead, I created a word document formatted like the finding aids on Archives Online that could be easily converted to EAD. After creating labels for the 24 boxes, the Glenn Black Papers are officially available for perusal.

I feel incredibly lucky that I can have my name on one of the most important archival collections held at this institution. Being able to list the Glenn Black Papers on my CV will be beneficial when I graduate and begin my job hunt, and the skills I practiced throughout the process will undoubtedly help me in my career field.

Bri standing with archival boxes
Bri McLaughlin with the finished Glenn A. Black MSS.

Wylie House Field School: Week 4 Blogs

25 June 2018

Scout Landin

Hello and welcome back to another blog post by me, Scout Landin! I am a senior about to graduate in August with a double major in anthropology and food studies. I am very passionate on learning about cultures and societies -especially through food and diet! I also really enjoy being outside in nature and working with my hands during this field school opportunity.
On this cloudy and overcast day, most people are probably inside and wishing it wasn’t gray out. On the other hand, the students at the Wylie House field school are welcoming the cool breeze and working their butts off In their last week (can you believe it’s been three weeks already?! Because I seriously cannot…). Today, I have been working on opening Unit 3 to the north, south and west. Last Friday, we thought our feature was in the next unit to the east, in Unit 1, but in Unit 3 we have uncovered lot of bricks and mortar and an outline that suggests the hot house/ green house is actually in that unit. Our plan is to open the three sides to uncover the outline like the one we have seen from last Friday. This entails digging up the humus, or the topsoil, then digging into what we call layer 2. This process usually takes awhile because we are skim-shoveling and making sure the ground is level for each layer. Once that’s done we still have to trowel back to get a clear view of the soil and the outline we will hopefully see.

While I was digging and expanding our unit, I found some really neat things. I found my first piece of ceramic wear, plain white pieces (the big rectangle looking piece) and other small pieces. Other people have found the pretty blue and purple transfer wear when they were digging; and in the screen someone found a ceramic/clay marble. These artifacts, especially the ones that I found, give me hope by the end of this week we will proudly say we have found the Wylie family’s hot house.

26 June 2018

Tori G.

Hi again, it’s Tori. So today was spent working on excavating our greenhouse feature (for real this time), covering everything fom torrential downpour, and then repeating what we did originally to fix the effects of rain and our tarps. Rainy days are still eventful at Wiley House, because they give us the opportunty to keep up with paperwork, wash artifacts, and process data. One thing I have been working on with data processing is creating photogrammetric models of the first unit I worked on, unit 2.  These three-dimensional models are created by using software that stitches together multiple two-dimmensional images. It creates a model that can show soil color and stratigraphy, enable exact measurementsto be  taken, and give us the ability to view a unit from angles that are not otherwise possible. Photogrammetry is a relatively new tool that is being used by archaeologists, and we use the technology on  a daily basis in underwater archaeology. 

While I really miss being underwater documenting shipwrecks, it is great to have terrestrial experience from this field project. I am grateful for this experience not only for the techniques I have learned that are used in terrestrial archaeology, but also for bettering and adapting my previous skills from underwater archaeology. I owe everyone a huge ‘thank you’ for helping me catch up after a late start and for explaining the process to me and teaching me. I can’t believe our time is almost over here, but we will have plenty of time together this semester processing artifacts- a task that lasts much longer than the field projet itself!

27 June 2018

Maclaren Guthrie

Hello all, I’m Maclaren Guthrie and I am the undergraduate archaeological assistant for this field school. During the past fall semester I was one of Indiana University’s Bicentennial interns.  My project was focused on the transition from agriculture to floriculture especially in relation to Bloomington and the Wylie family which culminated in the exhibit in the Wylie House Education Center for this field school.

Maclaren holding a small piece of transferware
This is a picture of me holding a sherd of black transferware that we found on a previous day of excavating.

Today I’m here to talk to you about something extremely exciting: we have finally identified the greenhouse! The feature (feature 1) we previously thought was the greenhouse ended up dissipating and was too small to match the dimensions of the pit that Theophilus Wylie III recalled in his memory map. We have now rediscovered the pit in our unit 3/unit 3 extension areas, where it does seem to mimick T.A.W. III’s remembered size of about 6 ft wide.

Liz at site of greenhouse, squatting in dirt
Here is our wonderful field director Liz Watts Malouchos with our outlined feature.

In addition to focusing our excavation efforts on this super interesting feature, we also backfilled two of our completed units this morning. Backfilling is a necessary part of archaeology, though it is a labor intensive and not super fun endeavor. Luckily, the Wylie House had a wheelbarrow we borrowed to move dirt more quickly. Unit 2 and unit 4 were both completely refilled with dirt as we got the information we needed from the soil and profiles, so they were no longer required since they weren’t part of our greenhouse feature.

Filled in ground
Units 4 and 2 after being backfilled.

28 June 2018

Jorge Allier

Hi! My name is Jorge Rios Allier, I am a first year PhD student in Anthropology Department. My research project is focus to explain the interactions between heritage users and owners in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, mainly focus in explain the economic value of archaeology and how archaeology can be useful to create development for local people. 
The Wylie House Bicentennial project has been a good opportunity to learn how historic archaeology is done in United States. Also it has been a huge chance to know more about the history of IU since his first steps. The Wylie House Museum is an extraordinarily project that combines different fields: History, Building maintenance, restoration, archaeology, master gardening, agricultural knowledge, etc. 
Today wasn’t a regular day, it started so excited because we  visited to the Wylie House’s roof. The roof is a place for a deep breath, the original view allowed to see the first IU Bloomington campus that nowadays is a park and a shopping mall. All the team took some funny photos, also me even I am not a photogenic one. 

About the fieldwork, today is a three stations day. The first one is the pit filling activity, because we are in the last week all the ended pits has to be cover and most of the crew is helping with that. The second one is the delimitation of the main project feature that we can call it “the green house wall”, it is interesting the construction technology of the XIX century for me. The third one was the total station interaction for students, always is useful to know the basics, no matters if you have the newest technology. 
Finally, I would say that Wylie House Bicentennial experience has been an enriching one for me. This project, in particular, could have an enormous impact on IU identity in this celebration times. 

Wylie House Field School: Week 3 Blogs

18 June 2018

Heather A.

Hi everyone it’s Heather! It’s been very hot out today, but we have kept on working and have made progress! Having canopies and tree cover over our work areas has been a huge help!

So, today we have been working in each of the units we have open.  We opened up three units last week, and we are making progress in each of them! Bricks have been located in units 3 and 5. We have also found large pieces of glass shards, terra cotta sherds, bone fragments, and we continue to find some small pieces of transferware. Unit 4 has made it down to level 3 of their unit, and have begun helping excavate unit 5.  Unit 2 is almost at a stopping point for their unit, and may be split up and start helping the newer units. Just a few minutes ago, unit 5 found a pig molar in their unit.

Pig molar found in unit 5

I have been working in unit 2, and it has proven to be a bit of a challenge. We have been in layer 2, the rubble layer, for a few days now. It is several centimeters deep and we had only just started to see the bottom of the layer at the end of the day Friday. We are still working on getting the unit flat, and we will see what the next level tells us!

19 June 2018

Hannah

Hello, it’s Hannah again! It is the twelfth day out here at the Wylie House dig site. It is another beautiful, but hot day outside, so we decided to start early to beat the heat. Even though it is hot outside, we have had a productive day. Unit 1, unit 3, and unit 5 have expanded to include a unit 6, but instead of being separate units it is one large feature unit. The feature unit contains the subterranean greenhouse that we have been looking for, and we opened up a sixth unit to determine if the edge of the feature could be found there, but it was determined that the feature is only in units 1, 3, and 5. The feature found is believed to be the greenhouse due to the different colored soil and because that soil creates a series of right angles. Today, the feature unit was scraped clean and photographed and is now being mapped.  In unit 4, we have finally found the bottom of layer 2 and are now prepping for a photograph. Another important factor is taking care of the artifacts. Elizabeth and Scout are busy washing artifacts as the day winds down to a close. If you’re interested in seeing our progress, come see us soon! 

20 June 2018

Brenna R.

Hi guys, it’s Brenna again! Today is a gorgeous day, with a nice breeze helping to cool things down a bit and luckily no rain.  We spent this morning finishing up the mapping of units 1,3,5, and 6 as well as photographing and mapping the profile walls in unit 4. We’re now focusing on the feature in the northern set of units,  where we’ve laid out another quadrant that will separate the feature into different areas so that it’s easier to excavate and sift through. So far today we’ve found what looks to be an old metal hook, which came from unit 1, and shards of glass from unit 3. As we dig deeper into the feature our findings will help us piece together how the Wylie’s filled in the greenhouse and evidence of what they could have stored there as well. Unit 4 is doing Munsell’s of the profile walls that they mapped earlier, making sure that everything is identified and recorded as well as it possibly can be. As we dig deeper we’re going to uncover even more information about the Wylie’s and their greenhouse, so come by and see our progress!

21 June 2018

Angel Mounds Field Trip

Hello everyone, it’s Elizabeth again and today we started off the morning a little different than usual. Instead of our typical meet at the 7-8 am time frame, we met at 8:30. Extra sleep time! The purpose of this late meet up was our field trip to Angel Mounds in Evansville, Indiana. Just as a little background context for later, I’m actually from Evansville, so when we found out that our field trip was to Angel Mounds I joked that I get to go home for a day. So about 8:45 we hopped in our IU official vehicles and began our two hour journey to the site. Molly and Liz were our two designated drivers for the day with Maclaren and Jorge as their respective copilots. Now I’m not sure how the ride in Molly’s car was, but in Liz’s car things got interesting with the Bluetooth and radio really fast. In the long run, we gave up on either for most of the trip and listened to podcasts and npr on someone’s phone. 
When our two hour trip was up, we all grouped together in parking lot of Angel Mounds waiting for another few minutes for it to open. As we waited, Liz gave us a nice in depth explanation about the site and its archaeological and historical background. She told us about how the mound you see off to the right when you turn in to the parking lot is called a Woodland mound and how it’s different from the other mounds at the Angel site, how Angel is connected to other sites such as Cahokia in Illinois, as well as the contemporary descendants of the peoples that lived at Angel.

Liz talking to group at Angel Mounds

Once the museum opened, we went inside and explored everything it had to offer, from interactive displays to physical Angel artifacts. Having grown up in Evansville I had been many times to Angel Mounds and seen this museum each time I went, so while it wasn’t completely new to me there was a pleasant sense of nostalgia I could share with my group. And even more exciting were the new exhibits at the end of the museum that I had yet to see. 
By far the most amazing part about the trip was going outside and climbing to the top of Mound A. The view was absolutely beautiful! During our trek to the mound, we stopped along the way for more tidbits of information from Liz. In particular the idea that these mounds were perfectly aligned with specific phases of the moon was fascinating. Brenna joked that she can’t even find North on her own, so it’s impressive that they were so exact in their calculations. However, my favorite discussion point of the day was by far the future of Angel and the collaboration with descendants and the repatriation that is planned. You don’t often think about the multifaceted abilities of a place until you are presented with them head on and this was definitely the case here. This is especially true when you grow up and are told a place is one thing, like a historic site, but later learn it means so much more to others such as Angel’s descendants. 

group photo
Group photo at Angel Mounds

After our amazing adventure to Mound A, we stopped by the gift shop and got caught up in all of the friendship bracelets, arrow points, books and dream catchers to the point where nearly everyone bought something. To finish out the day, we went to a pizza place called Turoni’s and I learned there was a location of this place I’ve never been to! It was a great end to the day, a way to wind down and just talk with everyone and make plans for our week left at the Wylie House site. Well, thanks for tuning in and keeping up with our progress! We really love the community involvement we’ve been receiving, so please keep it coming! 

22 June 2018

Lauren S.

Hi guys, it’s Lauren again! Today has been an exciting one despite the weather. This morning we had 6 volunteers join us in our continuing excavations of Unit 3, Unit 4, and Feature 1. This group was made up of a previous vounteer José, Maclaren’s grandmother, and a team from the Children’s Museum’s archaeology lab incuding my aunt. My aunt was able to help me dig in the small unit Brenna and I started in the northeast quadrant of Feature 1 earlier this week. Being a conservator at the Children’s Museum, she enjoyed learning how to excavate artifacts instead of processing them. While community involvement is awesome, getting to show off your work to your family is pretty great too. We were able to dig through the orange clay we’ve been associating with Feature 1, a silty brown layer of soil we named Layer 4, and are now on to Layer 5.

Volunteers at Wylie House

About an hour before the volunteers left, it started pouring down rain. After a mad dash to the barn, and a few nasty slips in the mud, the volunteers started to wash some artifacts. While they washed, the rest of us continued to fill out the paperwork associated with our units and features. Paperwork is much harder than it sounds and almost always leaves us with questions as we try to interpret the quick notes we take in order to fill in missing information. Once we got our paperwork sorted, we got back to digging. Hopefully we will find more artifacts to add to our exciting finds this morning: a marble and a piece of purple transferware. Come out and visit us next week as we enter the home stretch of our excavation!

Cleaning artifacts

Wylie House Field School: Week 2 Blogs

11 June 2018

Elizabeth Berry

Hi guys, my name is Elizabeth Berry and I’m a recent graduate from IU (Class of 2018!). I graduated with a BA in Anthropology and Germanic Studies with a minor in History. Wylie House is my first dig site experience and hopefully not the last. I’m using my time here as internship experience before going back for graduate school in Fall 2019.

Elizabeth sitting in grass at Wylie House
Elizabeth Berry

Today marks the sixth day of the dig and the addition of Tori to our team. The rain was a bit intense this morning, so we started at 10 am instead of 8 am to avoid the worst of it. We started out the morning with washing and dry brushing some of the artifacts that we’ve encountered up til now. Certain pieces are actually rinsed in the “salad spinners” (as we called them this morning) while others such as coal are only dry brushed and placed on the tray. Once all the pieces are dry, they will go back into their assigned artifact bags until further analysis, etc.  can be done with them. After this, we set up our tents and screening areas as normal. Unit 1 is currently tasked with getting rid of the layer 2 soil still in the unit in hopes of uncovering our layer 3 or subsoil. Thus far the usual bits of coal, brick and glass have been found. Unit 2 on the other hand have found a button made of shell (found by Tori) and a bucket handle. And as both units get further and further in, the more we are separating into various buckets and trays to isolate the different layers and any “possible features” we may come across. Hopefully the weather behaves the rest of this week and we can get right back on track. 

12 June 2018

Lauren Schumacher

Hi everyone! My name is Lauren Schumacher and I am a sophomore at IU majoring in history and minoring in archaeology. I’m particularly excited about this project since we have so many first hand accounts and photographs to reference when planning the next step in our excavation.

Image of Lauren at Wylie with shovel
Lauren Schumacher

Despite the occasional rain, today has been an exciting day for archaeology as we were able to add some interesting stories and artifacts to our growing collection. This morning, we learned about the darker side of the Wylie House from Sherry, the master plantsman. We asked if the barn or the house was haunted and to our surprise she said some believe the ghost of a red haired woman in a yellow dress haunts the house. You can see her depicted in the mural. Interestingly, there is a yellow-green dress in the Wylie House collection. Though none of us have seen the ghost (yet), we all thought it was fun to learn a little more about our site. Hopefully we can draw the ghost woman out to our units with some more interesting finds!

Yellow dressed woman in mural at Wylie
Mural image

Today, we embraced 21st century archaeology as we found diagnostic artifacts in one of the two new units we opened up directly to the west of our previously existing units. While screening the topsoil, Unit 4 found remnants of a Pizza X cup. This is a great example of a diagnostic artifact, or an artifact indicitave of a particular time. This cup is clearly modern given that it’s made of plastic and was found in the very top layer of soil. We know the Wylies weren’t eating Pizza X on their front lawn, but it seems as if someone else was!

Small plastic piece of stadium cup
Piece of Pizza X cup

As we start to excavate our two new units, we hope to find more artifacts appropriate to the time period and hear more stories from people in the community to give us a better understanding of our site!

13 June 2018

Tori G.

I am Tori, a junior majoring in Anthropology and Underwater Archaeology with a certificate in Resource Management. I have been on many underwater archaeology field projects, but this is my first swing at terrestrial work! So far project has been great, and all of the students have helped me catch up from the first week that I missed. Today we found more buttons in unit two, the unit with all of the tree roots, which has lead to us naming the neighboring tree “the button tree”. Sherry, the master plantsman at Wylie House, showed us a matching button she had found a few years ago, which was very cool. Also, we thought we had found another feature (possibly a second greenhouse), but it turned out to be an abnormal color pattern in the soil. We are beginning to excavate level 4 today so keep your fingers crossed!

14 June 2018

Scout Landin

Hi guys, my name is Scout Landin. I graduated in May with a double major in anthropology and food studies. While I am really interested in food anthropology in different cultures and societies, I wanted to spend my summer learning the practical side of anthropology through the subfield of archeology at the Wylie House field school! 

Image of Scout at Wylie House
Scout Landin

Today in our field school, I learned how to do a profile, which includes a profile map of one of the unit’s walls. To begin that process we needed to level the wall so we could see the stratigraphy clearly. Once we made a perfectly straight and level wall, we had to set up our measurements and equipment so that we can measure each level correctly. The next step after that is to make a scaled map of each level of soil to represent the whole profile wall in the unit. I had a lot of fun pairing up with Molly and learning this step in the process. When we were done with the map, we officially finished our first profile wall in Unit 1! Even though this process may sound particularly simple, it takes a lot of attention to detail and willing to practice and be precise.
Something that I did not get to do everyday in college is being able to learn with my hands and here at the field school I can do just that! I have really enjoyed my time here at the Wylie House and I think my geologist dad would appreciate how much time I have been spending with dirt. 

15 June 2018

Welcome back, readers, and happy Friday! My name is Joseph, and when I am not doing archaeology I work as avisiting researcher in the IU chemistry department. 
As happens every Friday, this morning we welcomed five new temporary volunteers to our ranks. Today’s adventuresome helpers were Danielle, Mackenzie, Susan, and James (who is the IU Historian!). Together, they assisted us with screening for artifacts and cleaning walls with trowels. Everyone had a great time swapping stories and learning new techniques, and we were sad to see them leave at lunch. With their help, we accomplished quite a bit.
 One of our biggest accomplishments was starting a new excavation unit. Unit 5 (see pictures) is a 1 m x 1 m  square unit that is adjacent to the unit containing our greenhouse feature. We began digging through the topsoil and have just started to reach the layer of rubble that lies underneath. Our goal with this unit is to better understand the shape of the feature which we found in unit 1.

In addition, we also found a sheep bone in our deepest excavation unit (unit 2 – see pictures). Wiley family records of livestock ownership suggest that the sheep would have been  owned by Andrew Wiley, not his cousin Theophilius. This is exciting! We have found evidence of Andrew Wiley’s subsistence farming practices. (Most of our material culture so far is tied to Theophilius and other second generation Wiley inhabitants.
Next week, we will continuing excavating our units. One of our main goals is to better understand the feature we found and excavated this week, using the stratigraphic data we will collect from unit 5. Stop by next week to see how we’re doing!