Spring 2018 Newsletter

From the Desk of the Curator

Click here to read a message from Curator Melody Pope.

Collections News

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe received a grant from the Institute of Museum Library Services (IMLS) to digitize documents in the Great Lake Ohio Valley Ethnohistory Collection, a tribal history series related to their tribe.  As part of this grant, the GBL hosted two Shawnee archivists for a week-long workshop on archives preservation and access.

The GBL accessioned two new donations to its library collections, and four new donations to its archaeological collections.

Library Acquisitions

IU Lilly House Transfer Donation

GBL staff coordinated with the IU President’s Office and staff of the Eli and Ruth Allison Lilly House, the IU President’s Indianapolis residence, to transfer the Lilly Map to the James H. Kellar Library in February.  The Lilly Map is a “Map of Indiana” published by the National Map Company in the early 1900s. Mounted in a wooden frame, Eli Lilly, likely with help from Glenn Black, marked locations of different types of archaeological sites using color-coded pushpins. It is the first map to depict the locations of known archaeological sites in Indiana, now something accomplished with GIS with a click of a mouse. We are currently researching the map and planning to have it digitally scanned, photographed and eventually displayed at the GBL.  GBL Librarian Kelsey Grimm provides additional information on the map in an Artifact Spotlight feature on our webpage, check it out!

The Constance Strawn Donation

Constance Strawn, a former IU student, donated a collection of technological drawings and employee newsletters from the Goodman Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois.  The newsletters date to the 1940s and are a fascinating source of social commentary by the company employees.  Also included in the donation are a set of blueprints from the Liquid Carbonic Corporation. Ms. Strawn acquired these items in the early 2000s.  See the GBL official blog The Dirt for a short post on the newsletters, “Electrical Mining” by GBL Librarian Kelsey Grimm!

Archaeology Acquisitions

The Garre Conner Donation

Garre Conner of Evansville, Indiana donated a handstone he found while hiking in the bed of Little Indian Creek in Monroe County.

The James L. Heflin Donation

James L. Heflin of Greenburg, Indiana donated archaeological collections from Phase I survey and Phase II testing at six Shelby County sites documented during archaeological survey for the Rockies Express Pipeline, LLC.  The survey, conducted between March of 2007 and May of 2008, documented both pre-contact and EuroAmerican sites on property owned by the Heflin family.

The Elizabeth A. York Donation

Elizabeth A. York of Ellettsville, Indiana donated a pre-Columbian ceramic bottle and whistle.  Acquired in the early 1900’s by family members then associated with Malena Corporation Pharmaceuticals, established by Chauncey F. York, Elizabeth York was pleased to donate these items to the GBL, where they are currently on display in our lobby.

The Marcia Staser Donation

The family of Marcia Staser donated two Peruvian ceramic vessels.  Marcia Staser acquired the vessels in 1968 in the Zappallel region, near Lima.

Research requests and inquiries prompted a number of dives into the archaeology and archives collections. Staff worked with Mike Strezewski, University of Southern Indiana, to select carbon samples for radiometric dating in support of Strezewski’s new research initiative focused on the Middle Woodland Mann phase in Indiana.  Discoidals from several early Clark County Mississippian period collections were located for a research publication that Cheryl Munson is working on.  A request from David Dye from the University of Memphis sent us into the Eli Lilly Papers in the archives with the hopes of finding provenance information for two Mississippian bowls in the Lilly Collection previously studied by southeastern archaeologist, Philip Phillips. This inquiry also led us to the Indiana Historical Society Papers housed at the GBL.  Although we have yet to trace the history of these two particular vessels, reading Glenn Black’s weekly correspondence to the Indiana Historical Society revealed a wealth of information on Indiana archaeology and its administration during the first half of the 20th century, a research topic our curatorial staff will be pursing in the near future.

This spring we provided a copy of the George Winter painting, The Council of Keewaunay, on display in the GBL lobby, to the Smithsonian for a traveling exhibit.  We also provided images of Glenn Black to the Indiana Historical Society for an article on Black in their member magazine, INPerspective.

Trips and conferences

In early January GBL, staff attended the Miami Winter Gathering in Miami, Oklahoma.  In April, several staff members attended the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, held in Washington, D.C.  Several IU graduate students involved with the Learning NAGPRA Project gave presentations and GBL Archaeology Fellow Amanda Burtt co-chaired the symposium Innovative Approaches to Human-Canine Interactions. The D.C. meeting also provided opportunities for the GBL curator and collections manager to participate in collections-oriented workshops, to tour many of the Smithsonian Museums and take in the spring weather and beautiful cherry blossoms. Another D.C. highlight was the chance to see the current installation of Cars at the Capital, a 1984 Plymouth Voyager, the first Chrysler minivan. Who knew that there is a National Historic Vehicle Register (NHVR)?!

A 1984 Plymouth Voyager, part of the ‘Cars at the Capital’ exhibit on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The front of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.


Out With the Old: “Women in Archaeology”

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Glenn A. Black Lab of Archaeology created an exhibit to pay tribute to the archaeological efforts of the women of our past.  The exhibit was split into two parts: the first, a physical wall of photos in the GBL lobby; the second, a larger, digital collection of photos, with longer captions detailing the subject matter.  The photos were made available as part of an ongoing digitization effort by our media team.

In With the New: “Hats in Archaeology”

Produced in conjunction with the Mathers Museum of World Cultures 2018 exhibit “Heads and Tales,” our exhibit “Hats of Archaeology” takes a look at the various head fashions used in Indiana archaeology throughout the last century. The hats may not have been chosen explicitly to make a statement, but by looking at these photographs from our collection, we can get a sense of how people thought about clothing throughout the last century.

Field Work

Field work and artifact analysis for the Bean Blossom Creek survey are wrapping up. Over 50 new sites spanning the Archaic Period through recent history were recorded, documenting northern Monroe County’s occupation from 8000 BCE through the 1960s.

The GBL is also gearing up for a summer field school and excavations at Wylie House museum to celebrate IU’s Bicentennial. In order to remotely locate subterranean greenhouses built in the 1860s for Rebecca Wylie, the GBL has partnered with Todd Thompson, Director of the Indiana Geological and Water Survey, to perform a ground-penetrating radar survey in front lawn of the Wylie House. Interpretations are still pending data processing, but preliminary results indicate a ground disturbance in the location of the greenhouses.

Past events

We had a great time at the Lotus Blossoms World Bazaar and the 7th Annual Powwow.  Thanks for coming out to see us!

We also had fun celebrating IU Day.  We’re so grateful to be part of this amazing community of museums and institutions.

Follow us on social media for photos!  And don’t forget to check out our new series on Instagram — each Friday we share a different artifact!

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Best of Blogs

Here are some great pieces written by staff and students this semester:

“A Point in Time” by Isabel Osmundsen

“The Importance of Archaeology from the Not So Distant Past” by Aaron Estes

Volunteer and Intern Appreciation

The GBL was pleased to host two museum practicum students this spring.  Wells Scholar Victoria Kvitek worked as a collections care assistant and was able to gain valuable hands-on experience preparing new donations for storage and assisting with the relocation of the over-sized collection.

Anthropology graduate student Molly Mesner rehoused the lithic artifacts from the 1967 expedition to the Mann site led by GBL’s first director, Jim Kellar.

Darlene McDermott volunteered her time this semester to continue her practicum project from the fall, completing catalog information for the whole vessel collection.

Anthropology graduate student Catherine Smith and business and history major Colin Gliniecki worked on Angel Mounds documentation for repatriation.

Selena McCracken, information and library science graduate student, is digitizing the Shawnee tribal history documents, and Logan Carte, Cox Scholar Intern, assisted with cataloging the Jonathan Reyman collection of southwest archaeology books.

Hannah Rea, journalism and history major, volunteered her time to coordinate our social media blogs and posts, and to publish our newsletter.

Thank you to all who gave their time this semester!

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


The Glenn Black Lab’s Architectural Beauty

April 18, 2018

by Bailey Foust, Curation Team

At the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, much of our time is spent thinking about artifacts and the space they are occupying. Is there enough space? What is its quality? Can we get more?

Space is a very important resource to us, and what embodies space more than a building? Yet sometimes we need to look at our building as more than a resource and as a beautiful work of architecture. It just so happens a photo recently found in the media archives accomplishes just that.

This image of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology was taken from the corner of 9th Street and Fess Avenue. There was no caption associated with the negative, so dating it relies on the fact that the Mathers Museum of World Cultures is not adjoining the structure; if it were, the East wall, seen on the left, would extend further. The Glenn Black Lab opened in 1971 and the Mathers Museum broke ground in 1980[1], so the photo had to have been taken between those years. Consequently a photo like this is vastly outnumbered by photos showing the two together, as the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology and Mathers Museum have been connected ever since.

This photograph captures and highlights the beauty of the Glenn Black Lab’s exterior architecture, different from the way in which it typically appears in photographs or in person. The framing in this image is interesting because most photos of the Glenn Black Lab focus on the front entrance and sign. Instead this image shows far more of the building, including the north and east walls in their entirety. Increasing the amount of lab visible in the photograph enhances the focus on the architecture and its beauty, whereas photographs of the sign and entrance function as a representation of the institution as a whole. By showing the entire north and east face, the image is able to display a series of very satisfying parallel lines visible in the roof, the trim dividing the building levels, the hand rails, the planter’s edge, and the curb. These lines are further emphasized by their saturated black tones, which results from the image being taken with black and white film.

The film type is also important because the gradients in the tone work with the image’s lighting highlight the lab’s architecture. The cubes visible in the overhang exhibit this range of tone. In regards to the lighting, it is important to note the photograph was taken at night, which causes the light on the building to be different from what it otherwise would be, as it instead originates from the lamps in the overhang. This creates a seamless area of light surrounding the building, and allows light to play off the lab’s surface. Both levels of the building have the same surface texture of vertical lines, but in the image the upper level is reflecting enough light that it appears smooth, while the lower level’s texture is maintained by shadows.

The lab’s staff encourages you to stop by and experience the architecture of the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology for yourself, to see how the building has changed in the last 50 years, and depending on the time of your visit, perhaps experience the beauty of the Glenn Black Lab’s architecture in a way you’re unfamiliar with.

Check out some blueprints of the GBL, which are housed in our archives! (click to enlarge images):

[1] https://mathersmuseum.indiana.edu/about1/history.html

A Letter from Eli Lilly

April 2, 2018

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

One of my favorite types of primary sources to work with are letters.  Mostly, I love the language.  You can tell a lot about a person from how they write and to whom they write it.  If it’s to a business partner, maybe they’re more formal.  To a spouse, more affectionate.  To a friend, light-hearted and cordial.

In this case, I’m reading a letter written by Eli Lilly to Ida Black.  Eli and Ruth Lilly were friends of Glenn and Ida Black, and played an important role in the excavation of the Angel Mounds site and Indiana archaeology at large.

The letter –written August 24, 1965, from Lilly’s cottage in Syracuse, Indiana– concerns the founding of the Glenn Black Lab, the fate of Angel Mounds, and the destination of the artifacts discovered there.  It came to the GBL as part of a donation by the family of Glenn and Ida Black.

Lilly begins by wishing Ida well, and seems regretful that he is unable to relay the contents of the letter in person.  The friendship between the two is clear in his frankness; Lilly makes it clear that he did his best to take both Ida and Glenn’s (Glenn died September 2, 1964) wishes to heart, but ultimately did not have the final say in the decision.

He speaks of negotiations with the state and with Indiana University, and assures Ida the site will not be neglected.  In a helpfully numbered list, he details the steps of the thinking process.

The site will not be abused, he says, and it will be kept out of the hands of politicians who might not have its best interests at heart.  There will be attempts to interest Indiana University in the property, and the artifacts.

Later, he mentions his intention to build a memorial lab to Glenn Black, which likely will be on IU’s Bloomington campus. (The GBL did indeed end up in Bloomington, and would be opened April 21, 1971.) Lilly is sure Glenn would approve of the strategy, and its protection of both the artifacts of Angel and the site itself.

It’s interesting to look back at this letter, with our founding day fast approaching, and get a glimpse into the process of opening the GBL.

While the handwriting is a bit difficult to decipher in parts, it does not diminish from the importance of the letter, nor the kind words the Lillys have for Ida Black.  It also gives you a sense that you’re holding history in your hands, a feeling that’s almost beyond words.

There are bound copies of this letter available for viewing in our lobby; if you’re interested in reading the full text, I recommend you come check them out!

Recent Library Donation: ‘Electrical Mining’

March 21, 2018

What does “Electrical Mining” have to do with archaeology?

We just received a wonderful donation of the periodical here at the GBL Library!

Electrical Mining” was a monthly periodical produced by the Goodman Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois, beginning in the early 20th Century.

A short history:

The Goodman corporation had its beginnings in the late 19th Century, when the first Goodman locomotive was created by Elmer Ambrose Sperry. His brother-in-law, Herbert Goodman, began marketing the equipment in 1890. The company was formed April 23, 1900, when it took over the electrical business from Link Belt Company and was able to move production to a facility at Halsted Street and 48th Place. By 1904, Goodman locomotives were delivering freight to merchants in tunnels beneath Chicago’s downtown streets; by 1906 the company had launched into international exportation. In the 1930s Goodman began manufacturing diesel-powered versions of its mining locomotives for hard rock mining. In 1965, Goodman was sold to Westinghouse Air Brake Co., but was purchased by investors in 1971. Goodman Equipment Corporation ceased operations in 2003 when Bateman Trident South Africa acquired most assets and Williams Distribution, a division of W. W. Williams Company, acquired all of the parts and intellectual material necessary to continue making the products.

By 1903 the company began producing short monthly magazines containing all sorts of goings-on about the company and mining at large.

Our recent donation was salvaged in the early 2000s by a former student of the GBL’s director. We now have 43 issues of “Electrical Mining” from the 1940s.

And let me tell you…they are FASCINATING.

Just take a look at some of the covers.

They’re beautiful. Many are hand drawn, others are photographic, but they all reflect the times.

It’s amazing to flip through these magazines and see how World War II affected the people at home: how many men enlisted and therefore weren’t working; how the women stepped up and took over the men’s positions; shortages of butter; summaries from the war department. It’s also amazing to see that life did go on at home: bowling league scores; the latest mining equipment; family illnesses; marriages and births; poems; roller skating party photos.

These notes are often right next to each other! A notice for “Orchids for Order” is listed next to one saying “Coal is a war essential” and a notice on “Revised procedure for handling new equipment…”

It’s nice to have this little diversion come across my desk. From looking on World Cat, no participating repository holds these 1940s issues of “Electrical Mining.” These magazines are maybe a little off-topic for an Archaeological library, but they remind this librarian that life happens all at once: the good, the bad, the sad, and the mundane. These magazines are little glimpses into the history of the Midwest.


“Rail-car Maker Finds Gold Underground.” (1990 Jan 02). Chicago Tribune.

“Williams Distribution to Support Goodman Equipment Corp. Locomotive & Personnel Carrier Lines; Follows Acquisition of Goodman by Strategic Partner.” (2003 June 18). BusinessWire.

“Goodman, Herbert E.” Inductee Database. National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Importance of Archaeology from the Not So Distant Past

march 1, 2018

by Aaron Estes, GBL Archaeological Field Technician

Acknowledgement of State and Federal Assistance
This project has been funded in part by a grant 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. The project received federal financial assistance for the identification, protection, and/or rehabilitation of historic properties and cultural resources in the State of Indiana. However, the contents and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability in its federally assisted programs. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.

In the public imagination a lot of attention is typically given to ancient and prehistoric remains; a sometimes underappreciated segment of the field is the study of those remains from more recent history. This type of work, commonly referred to as historical archaeology, includes the identification, collection, documentation, and preservation of artifacts and structures which could be as few as 50 years old or younger if deemed significant. However, these artifacts allow archaeologists the unique opportunity to study history through objects that are possibly more familiar and relatable. One such artifact from the 2017 GBL Bean Blossom Creek Survey of the IU Research and Teaching Preserve is a Coca-Cola bottle from 1954.

Since it is fair to assume that many people today have drank from or at least seen a Coca-Cola bottle in their lives, this bottle is a perfect example of how familiar yet historic object can be used to help people better relate to a different period in time.

Sometimes archaeological artifacts offer little information when extremely fragmented or deteriorated, but this piece is a unique situation since it was recovered fully intact and in relatively pristine condition. Even luckier is the fact that this bottle comes from an era in which glass bottles were machine-made with distinct marks to identify a wealth of information including the bottle’s contents, manufacturer, and production date. Thus a large portion of this Coca-Cola bottle’s lifespan can be easily uncovered by decoding the various numbers and symbols embossed on the bottles surface.

Based on the specific codes on the base and body of this Coca-Cola bottle we know that it was manufactured in 1954 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by the Chattanooga Glass Company. It was then sent to Bloomington, Indiana, to be bottled in the town’s Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, and from there likely sold to a local resident. The first code that sets off this chain of information is the date code located on the lower body of the bottle reading “54-05.”

This represents the year 1954 and mold number 5 from which the bottle was made (Lockhart and Porter 2010; Lockhart 2000). Next in the center of the bottle’s base is the letter “C” enclosed in a small circle. This mark signifies the Chattanooga Glass Company, and more specifically the company’s Chattanooga plant which produced Coca-Cola bottles with this logo from the 1927 until the 1980s (Lockhart et al. 2014). Surrounding the circle C logo was embossed “BLOOMINGTON – IND” — this text indicates that this bottle was meant for the bottling plant in Bloomington, Indiana, which bottled Coca-Cola from 1924 to 1989.

The Bloomington Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, which is today a recognized historic site on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), still stand at 318 S. Washington St. near downtown Bloomington (Brennan 1999).

By User: Farleyeye (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) ]
Though manufacturer marks are the easiest way to identify a historic glass bottle of this era, it is not the only way. The design and diagnostic features of a bottle, especially in the case of Coca-Cola, are also useful in dating pieces when dates or manufacturing marks are absent. The first essential step in dating a Coca-Cola bottle is finding out which of the three Coca-Cola patent designs the bottle was made from. Based on this bottle’s specific design features, it was of the third patent variation that was patented in 1937, which is the design still commonly seen today (Lockhart (b) 2010; Lockhart (a) 2000). Although the classic “hobble-skirt” design was first patented in 1915, the distinct design features of the 1937 bottle patent included a thicker waist with a higher constriction, a flattened base, and more elliptical side flutes between the trademark panels. Additionally this was likely one of the last bottles to have the Coca-Cola logo embossed on the glass, since this design was replaced by Applied Color Lettering in 1955. Finally, the last unique marking on this bottle that separates it from the other bottles of similar design is the phrase “TRADE-MARK REGISTERED IN THE U.S. PATENT OFFICE” embossed just below the Coca-Cola label on one side. This patent designation was introduced in 1951 and was used until the introduction of the recognizable “®” symbol in 1962. Using an aggregate of all this information this bottle can be relatively dated between 1951 and 1955 without ever looking at a single manufacturing mark.

Hopefully now it is clear that a lot of history can be extrapolated from such a small and seemingly insignificant object. But these artifacts are even more intriguing when put into greater context. For instance, 1954 was the midst of the Cold War and the U.S. was still experiencing the post war economic boom in which new middle class families were buying up consumer goods like televisions to watch popular programs like “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “I Love Lucy,” and “Father Knows Best.” Dwight D. Eisenhower was in his second year in office, the Polio vaccine was first used (eventually saving millions of lives), and the case of Brown v. Board of Education reached its final verdict, ending segregation in U.S. public schools. And at Indiana University history Herman B Wells was president, the Alumni Association was founded, and the Sigma Nu fraternity would win the fourth ever Little 500 on a Roadmaster bicycle. Looking from a broader scope it should be obvious how a simple Coca-Cola bottle can take on a greater meaning when considered alongside the history of the past 63 years. Because in context, not only does this small bottle represent the history of Coca-Cola, but it is also a part of the history of the United States, the city of Bloomington, and Indiana University.

Therefore while at times archaeology can appear to be unapproachable when considering the deep and abstract past, it is artifacts like this one that are the key to connecting people with a more intimate history. Not only is this bottle a tangible representation of the past, unlike the text in a book, but it is also something familiar and recognizable to a general audience. This familiarity makes it a perfect example of something that can bring people back to over 50 years of U.S. history. Regardless of how it ended up in that ravine near Lake Griffy, artifacts like this have the potential to bring to life history that people can relate to, and these are the artifacts that historical archaeologists are looking to uncover and share with the world.


Brennan, Kristen

1999    The Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant. National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination Form. Preservation Development Inc., Bloomington, IN (June 7, 1999).

Lockhart, Bill

2000    Chapter 8c Bottles of the Magnolia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Bottles on the Border: The History and Bottles of the Soft Drink Industry in El Paso, Texas, 1881-2000 333-354. DOI: https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/EPChap8c.pdf

Lockhart, Bill and Bill Porter

2010    The Dating Game: Tracking the Hobble-Skirt Coca-Cola Bottle. Bottles and Extras 46-61. DOI: https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/coca-cola.pdf

Lockhart, Bill, Beau Schriever, Carol Serr, and Bill Lindsey

2014    Chattanooga Glass Co.. Society of Historic Archaeology Inc. 225-246. DOI: https://sha.org/bottle/pdffiles/ChattanoogaGlass.pdf

A Point in Time

February 19, 2018

by Isabel Osmundsen, GBL Archaeological Field Technician

Acknowledgement of State and Federal Assistance
This project has been funded in part by a grant 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. The project received federal financial assistance for the identification, protection, and/or rehabilitation of historic properties and cultural resources in the State of Indiana. However, the contents and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability in its federally assisted programs. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.

The process of identifying and dating an artifact can be an elusive one.

Imagine, if you will, being an artifact, a tool, held by a human for the first time in thousands of years. Much has changed from when you were discarded, forgotten, or lost, after you were used for the last time. What do you share about your own lifespan and the era from whence you came from with this person?

In the summer of 2017, the Glenn A. Black Laboratory conducted a survey project headed by Principal Investigator Associate Research Scientist Elizabeth Watts Malouchos, in which I participated as a field technician. The survey covered nature preserves in northern Monroe County across the watershed of Bean Blossom Creek, seeking to find new prehistoric sites. In the many acres of forest and field that we dug shovel test probes or walked over where visibility was high, we found naught a diagnostic prehistoric artifact—yet the effort was not fruitless. As a moderately-sized group carrying buckets, shovels, tarp, and daypacks traipsing through the woods, our work often catches the eye of those observing us from the fringes as they go about their daily business, arousing their curiosity and usually leading to conversation and education about our work.

While surveying in a less-frequented part of the Indiana University Griffy Lake Research and Teaching Preserve (RTP), we ran into IU RTP Property manager, Michael Chitwood. He showed us a projectile point that another IU researcher had previously discovered in a creek bed on the property. Utilizing artifacts for research which were not systematically collected by trained archaeologists can be a double-edged sword; not everyone is aware of all the standard procedures used by professionals, such as maintaining provenience, but they may have finds that contribute to the record and help fill in the blanks. Pitblado (2014) argues that, according to the Society for American Archaeology’s own guidelines, it is actually unethical for professional archaeologists to wholly discount collectors’ finds, and instead should seek out collaboration with them. In our case, we were lucky in that Michael and the IU researcher recognized the importance of the artifact and its provenience, and recorded where it was found.

Once the GBL subsumes the projectile into its collections, the first step is to identify what it is before we can start making interpretations, followed by greater extrapolations about the past, regarding the people who used the point and how they lived. Two markers of identification are: what material it was made from, and what type of projectile it is exactly. This entails utilizing the GBL’s own Type Collections by taking the specimen and attempting to visually or tactilely match it with known specimens, which seems like a cut and dry process—until it isn’t.

One issue archaeologists encounter while doing analysis is, to borrow from Captain Cragen of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, “We don’t get to pick the vic[tim].” The proverbial victim here being artifacts, archaeologists do not have the option to choose to work with the most illustrative artifacts of the past or the ones in the best condition, but we make the best of what we find. Contrary to what Indiana Jones and Lord Carnarvon might have led you to believe, many archaeological finds are not so “sexy.” From the time they are deposited, artifacts have to battle the elements, which can cause wear and tear. This exposure can simulate use wear and overinflate how much an artifact was utilized in its life, skewing our interpretations. Case in point, (ba-dum-tss) the point discussed here was discovered in a creek bed where water and tumbling stones could have polished it, leading us to believe it was utilized more heavily than it was.

Another factor in identification has to do with the classification of different projectile points. The specimen’s identification as a certain type typically demonstrate the peak, distinctive characteristics that define a central group of like artifacts which are associated with a culture. Similar to how law enforcement uses ten points to match fingerprints, an archaeologist tries to match as many observable characteristics in the artifact as they can to those in the type collection. The point discussed here is not the most finely crafted and has been worn by water, hindering this comparison and making it difficult to perfectly match it to a particular type.

This also makes its individual story all the more interesting: was the person knapping this in a hurry? Were they a novice practicing their form? What makes it difficult to tell the story of the deep histories of Monroe County serves to highlight the hand and life of a real individual from long ago, connecting us to them.

After some deliberation, I decided the point seems to be most like a Merom point, of the Terminal Late Archaic culture from 2,000 to 1,000 calibrated BC (Stafford and Cantin 2009) and made of Holland chert, a stone with a waxy to glassy sheen of varying muted colors. This point type is most commonly seen throughout the bottom half of Indiana and parts of Ohio, as far as just across into Missouri, and the upper half of Kentucky (Justice 1987). Holland chert comes from a type of limestone of the Staunton Formation, part of the Pennsylvanian geologic system, named after an exposed outcropping near Holland, Dubois County (Indiana Geological and Water Survey).

Even within this single period, the points greatly vary across time; some have large barbs towards the base, others have a neatly serrated edge. Some are squat and triangular, others are slightly longer and even a bit ovoid.

Around this time, the people of the Archaic started transitioning in the ways they lived. They moved their home bases from creeks and streams to larger confluences and rivers, which could have been due to a change in their environment (Stafford and Cantin 2009). People focused more heavily on collecting and stayed put for longer periods of time, made possible through longer-term plans for the future. Such planning is indicative of a more complex society in which tasks and roles were more delineated, and why such collectors practiced what is termed “logistical mobility,” used in deciding whether to move or stay put, or in other matters such as sending out task groups. (Binford, 1980)

That’s certainly a lot to glean from one diagnostic projectile point! But this argumentation is also what I love about archaeology—our interpretations open up so much about our past that can’t be found in a book. It’s a logical challenge based on the strength of your argument, and cracking that code is an accomplishment that feels like none other.

References cited

Binford, Lewis
1980     Willow Smoke and Dogs’ Tails: Hunter-Gatherer Settlement Systems and Archaeological Site Formation. American Antiquity, 45(1): 4-20. doi:10.2307/279653

Indiana Geological and Water Survey
Holland Limestone Member. Retrieved from https://igws.indiana.edu/compendium/comp6bhg.cfm

Justice, Noel D
1987     Merom Cluster. In Stone age spear and arrow points of the midcontinental and eastern united states (1st paperback ed., pp. 130-132). Indiana University Press. Bloomington.

Pitblado, Bonnie
2014     AN ARGUMENT FOR ETHICAL, PROACTIVE, ARCHAEOLOGIST-ARTIFACT COLLECTOR COLLABORATION. American Antiquity, 79(3): 385-400. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43184913

Stafford, C. Russell, and Mark Cantin
2009     Archaic Period Chronology in the Hill Country of Southern Indiana. In Archaic societies: diversity and complexity across the midcontinent, edited by Thomas E. Emerson, Dale L. McElrath, and Andrew C. Fortier, pp 287-313. State University of New York Press. Albany.

Wolf, Dick (Writer) and Jean De Segonzac (Director)
1999     Payback. Law and order: special victims unit. NBC.

Decoration of Pottery

February 19, 2018

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern


Humans have used visual means to express themselves, long before words were recorded.  One way of doing this is through painting pottery.  Paint was created with pigments, which came from whatever materials the artist could find.

Different minerals and plants created different colors.  Here are some of the common materials used and the colors they produced:

Charcoal – Gray or Black

Limestone/Crushed Shells – White

Copper – Blue/Green

Ochre/Hematite/Iron ore – Red/Orange

The material was first ground into powder, then mixed with some kind of liquid or other binding agent.  This was then used to decorate the pot, either by being used like paint or mixed into the clay itself.

Negative Painted Pottery

An example of negative painted pottery from an excavation at Angel Mounds.

There was another manner of decoration which focused less on the color of the paint, and more on the color of the pot itself.

Negative painted pottery, demonstrated on some sherds of pottery found at Angel Mounds, used the natural color of the pottery to create the pattern.

In a master’s thesis from 1950, Hilda J. Curry gives the most commonly proposed explanation –wax or some similar material was used to block out the desired designs, and the entire pot was covered in paint, usually black in color.  Once placed in a heat source to fire the clay, the wax would melt away, leaving sections of the vessel uncovered by paint.

In an article published in the Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, negative painted pottery is described as being found “almost exclusively” during the Middle Mississippian period, which dates from 1200-1500 CE.  Most sherds and pots demonstrating the process have been found in the Lower Ohio River Valley; near Nashville, Tennessee; and in southeast Missouri.  It is a rare find, but is considered to be a signature item of the Angel Mounds site since large quantities of negative painted pottery have been found there.  The exact origins are unclear, and there is some evidence to suggest the process was originally used on fabric.

Though many samples of negative painted plates, vessels and bowls have been found, a debate is underway on the precise purpose and origin of the process.


Baumann, Timothy E., Tammie L. Gerke and Eleanora A. Reber. “Sun Circles and Science: Negative Painted Pottery from Angel Mounds (12Vg1).” Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, 38:2 (2013). 219-244.

Curry, Hilda J. “Negative Painted Pottery of Angel Mounds Site and Its Distribution in the New World.” Master’s thesis, Indiana University, 1950.

“Prehistoric Pigments,” Royal Society of Chemistry.

A Look at Glenn Black’s “Excavation of the Nowlin Mound” (1936)

January 29, 2018

by Hannah Rea, Social Media Intern

In 1936, Glenn Black published an account in the Indiana Historical Bulletin of the excavations he led at Nowlin Mound in Dearborn County, Indiana.  His account is an intimate look at the digs, and is accompanied by diagrams and images meant to place the site in geographic context.  It may come as a bit of a shock, given how honest it is in its admission to errors on the part of the excavation team.  But the description provided is nonetheless an interesting look at archaeology of the 1930s, and how it differs from methods of today.

The land, owned by Guy Nowlin as of 1912, was used as a playground by local schoolchildren.  The first official excavation was started in 1934 and, Black reports, the old schoolhouse was used as a “windbreak.”  Several trenches of varying lengths were dug to expose the different areas of the mound.  These trenches, dug with vertical faces, revealed a soil makeup of various types of clay and uncovered pottery sherds and projectile points.  Two log-lined burials sites were found.  The next season was delayed by heavy rains, and finally began in June 1935.  Several other log-lined burials were found, one of which was found to have been damaged by moisture.

Black reported about 60% of the artifacts recovered from the site were found in the first season.  He divided them into two categories: intentional deposits (those artifacts placed in the burial sites by the mound builders) and chance deposits.  The latter could have been explained by error on the part of the excavators; an example given was the discovery of pottery sherds, which could have accidentally made their way into a site, once disturbed by the digging of a trench.  This provided an interesting insight into the method: not only were the archaeologists on the site aware of the possibility their actions were disturbing the site, but the head of the dig duly noted it in his report.

This gave me pause; I had always assumed excavation techniques of the 1930s and ‘40s were disruptive and sometimes dangerous, but had never stopped to think whether or not the archaeologists realized it.  This article, written by Black after he had headed the digs at Nowlin Mound, made me wonder how often archaeologists of the time acknowledged the nature of their techniques.  Despite the fact that Black was never academically trained in archaeology (as was common at the time), he was still a noted figure in Midwest archaeology; his report made for an interesting read and illuminated the methods he and his team employed, and the errors to which they had admitted during excavations.