Indiana State Museum Digs

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Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

Located in White River State Park in the heart of Indianapolis, the Indiana State Museum is a wonderful place to find everything you never expected. Whether you are a visitor to the state or a life-long Hoosier, this world-class institution will allow you to explore Indiana’s past, present and future through artistic, cultural and scientific exhibits. Starting with the birth of earth and tracing Hoosier history into the 21st century, the museum offers an eclectic and ever-changing adventure. Constructed of all Indiana materials including limestone, sandstone, steel, brick and glass, the museum’s exhibit space covers 72,000 square feet, and the organization maintains a collection of more than 400,000 artifacts. From the soaring Great Hall showcasing Robert Indiana’s INDIANA obelisk to 92 pieces of sculpture representing the 92 Indiana counties, even the building itself is a work of art. The museum is the crossroads of everything interesting, educational and unique about the state. The museum's collection began in 1862. The new building opened in 2002.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 13, September 2, 2006


Well, instead of waiting to write down my little blog, I decided to do this one fresh from the dirt. I am sitting here in the back seat of our fancy DNR car writing this down as Katherine drives and volunteer Ed directs us back to horror hotel. We are all really tired; kinda like we were hit by a Mack Truck. Today was a beautiful day, but it got hot and we all got some good sun burns. But, we thankfully had some great help today, particularly a budding paleontologist, Kyle, and his mom. You guys really helped us move some dirt! - - Good luck at State this year!

The majority of the day was spent shoveling and hauling muck (sound familiar?)… But today, we really battled water. After we had found that area of bone (scapula/ribs) the other day, we realized that we needed to dig down deeper, so emergent ground water became an even bigger hassle to us than before. We would dig down certain little areas, then have to immediately dig trenches around to guide all of the water towards the water pumps. Then we’d throw plywood boards on top so that we could stand, and dig some more. By the end of the afternoon, we were all wondering where the other parts of the animal lay. We had clearly dug all around the area of exposed bone and had dug even deeper, but we found nothing. No new bones were uncovered at all today, which was completely unexpected. We were excited about a potential bone bonanza, but it was not to be. That’s a hard reality to face after so much hard work, but it’s all a part of this paleontology gig… sometimes stuff just doesn’t turn up like you’d think.

John W. and I bagged up the exposed bones (scapula/ribs) and we assigned numbers to them for tracking. Rex worked to draw a sketch map of the bones in situ (in place), just before we pulled them from the ground. As the bones came out, John and I were careful to make sure that there was plenty of water in the bag. The bones are well preserved, but once they start to dry out, they can fall apart. Keeping them wet is crucial to preservation.

On another good note, I was able to set up our Total Station over a known point like a pro… Damon and Bill would have been proud. After that was completed, Rex and I mapped in the bone cluster (before we removed them, of course) AND some reference points on the nearby house and barn.

I am signing off for now with a little warning. If you were thinking about coming out to the site this week, you will probably need to change you’re plans. Word has it that if we can’t find anything tomorrow morning, we will pack it in and go home.

Michele Greenan
Archaeology and Natural History Collections Manager
Indiana State Museum

Saturday, September 02, 2006

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 12, September 1, 2006


I’m going to give this blog a working title: An Ode to the South Men! – Thanks a bunch, guys. And, to the many, many volunteers who came out to help, including Daniel and a certain science class from here in Plymouth. Thanks! There is a special place in our hearts for those willing to spend hours flinging muck and hauling buckets. You’re our kind of insane.

O.K. So what did we do today? Tons. We shoveled and hauled buckets until our backs and hands ached… a good day. In the morning, Bill Wepler and I started off by setting up our Total Station and began the process of mapping in the site. A “Total Station” such as ours is just like the ones typically seen doing survey work along highways and byways. We use it to help us map the site, and specifically, to map in the bones that we will find. And, as luck would have it… we have bones. In fact, John W. spent the morning excavating out a grouping of bones that included a scapula (shoulder bone) and some ribs. He excavated all of the dirt around the bones, leaving them sitting on what we call a pedestal, and it looks exactly like you’d think... bones on a pedestal. A few other bones were found as well including a small foot bone. This find was an extra special find because it was a first-find for one of our staff members. At the end of the say, the back-hoe guy came back and dug out some more muck for us, which is always helpful.

A special note of interest concerns a very lovely man known affectionately as ‘chicken;’ a special back-hoe operator known for his lack of fear. He had no fear and had the muck buried up to the cab of his back-hoe at one point. We were all very impressed when he finally pulled himself out.

Another important note regards our lodging. As you might imagine, when we go digging, we are often at the mercy of near-by hotels. Today, we had to switch hotels due to over-booking. I have one word of advice…. Never stay at a hotel beginning with anything suggestive of the term ‘Economical…’ Oh holy crap, me and my roomie are in hotel hell complete with fungus in the showers and smoke stench throughout. Save for the bag of the shoes hanging from the AC unit to quell the horrid rattling, we wouldn’t have had a moments peace all night. God willing, we will live to dig another day. P.S. the 14 years of college between us luckily prepared us to tackle the bizarre refrigerator present in our room.

Bone Count= 5 (yeah!)
Count of People Falling into the muck= 3 a least, including an instance where John W. fell so hard and skidded sooo fast that as he skidded… his butt pocket filled with muck. Another fabulous fall came from one of ISM’s own, who fell backwards into a ‘crab’ position (hint— think paper). As a special note, Bill W. DID NOT fall today!
Number of people stupid enough to find this professionally fulfilling… all of us.

Michele Greenan
Archaeology and Natural History Collections Manager
Indiana State Museum

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 10, August 30, 2006


It’s been a greatly successful day! At about 1pm, the large back-hoe showed up to start digging. Back-hoes are excellent little resources for paleontologists and archaeologists and in this situation, we needed it badly to help us dig large trenches to control and guide water away from our main excavation area. But we were still fighting with our water pumps. We spent loads of time messing around with our pumps because they kept getting clogged. At the water got sucked up and the levels got lower and lower, the water got muckier and muckier and clogged up our intake hoses.

The other exciting event that happened today was that the tire from our van split in two—it was the damnedest thing?! Gerhard and I made the journey into town to get a new tire. By the time we came back to the site, the large back-hoe had arrived and was busy digging out our trenches. Then the good times really started… BONE!! As the hours ticked by, staff members stood at all possible vantage points around the back-hoe to watch the digging, for with each scoop lay the chance of uncovering bone, which must be seen quickly lest the back-hoe crush it during its next course. At about 5:30, a rib was uncovered .. then a great big part of a leg bone, … then more bone ... then more… By the time we stopped for the day, we had uncovered a nice little cluster of bone lying in very close proximity to each other. This made us very excited because bone lying close together could be a good indication that most of the skeleton is present and intact. Needless to say, we are very excited about the prospect of tomorrow...

Michele Greenan
Archaeology and Natural History Collections Manager
Indiana State Museum

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

DAY MASTODONT DIG

Oops – sorry about this, but my hotel’s internet service was interrupted so I am forced to publish the past three days at once! Here it goes…

Day 7, August 27, 2006
When we arrived at the site today, it was shrouded in fog… Luckily, the pump was still running which was a small miracle since we had figured that it would have cut out by about 4 am. It’s at a Mastodont site such as this to control water. Most of our skeletons have come from situations like this… where they are in ponds, marshes, and drainage ditches. Oddly enough, as we dig down, underground water wants to come up! So… we do battle with pumps and large water hoses. Today, we entered into such a battle and we may have won. As the water drains from the four foot thick muck, cracks spread across the surface of the peat, and the water slowly drains out. We salvaged a 55-gallon drum and buried it to create a sump we could use to pump the pond dry. As the water was being drained out, frogs leapt out of the pond and a small painted turtle fought to push his head above the thick muck. A dip of the shovel pulled him from the muck and he headed for the open water to the west where the pond is still open.

Most of the day was spent trying to balance pumps and the thick muck. A misstep sends the unwary volunteer waist deep in muck the consistency of chocolate pudding (but much less pleasant). Several of us wound up stepping off of plywood sheets we had carefully placed as floating steps and sunk waist deep into the muck.

Oh, and did I mention the muck! – take a bunch of grass, some sticks, algae, and perhaps a couple of dead animals. Let sit in water for 13,000 years and then let them bake in the hot sun of an Indiana summer. It smells just like you would expect and has the consistency of runny, lumpy oatmeal. Nasty. Nasty. Nasty!!! Which reminds me.. Today, I learned a little secret about the site which I promise to tell you all on the last day of the dig.

Today’s totals:
- Bone count… 5 = some foot bones, rib bones, and some vertebra bones
- Count of people falling in the muck face-first… 4 = (way too funny and always worth a laugh)
- Digging up a Mastodont…priceless.

Day 8, August 28, 2006
Today was spent doing battle with the horrid muck. We began by setting up our water pumps on both ends of the pond and then pumping the water, via fire-hoses, out into areas where there would be good drainage away from the pond. The problem with pumping out muck-water is that it clogs. To try and stop this from happening, we placed the large intake hose into a 55-gallon steel drum that had been found at the site. We buried the drum into the muck, and large holes were hammered in its sides to allow water to seep into the drum. This proved a successful tactic, but we still had to periodically unclog the banged-out holes.

By mid-afternoon, we had drained the pond enough to allow Rex to get in and start bucketing out muck from the floor. With shovels in hand, the team began digging out working terraces and large drainage trenches. We had created an interesting situation where the pond was cut into two halves, separated from each other via “muck levees” that we had created. These muck heaps had large trenches dug into them which allowed us to control the amount and direction of water coming into the pond. By the end of the afternoon, we were all working in what had been the center of the pond; dry in places, but with at least 4 feet of muck in its deeper areas. In our own little world of muck, our engineering feats would have made the Romans proud; or, at least we are as insane as some of their rulers.

All-in-all, we felt fairly good about our work. It had been raining pretty hard and the day was generally cool and wet, but we still managed to work up a good sweat. It is hoped that our work today will allow us to begin really digging out some bone tomorrow.

Today's totals
- Bone Count= 0
- Count of people falling in the muck face first = 0 (but there were at least 3 instances where people got totally stuck in the mud and couldn’t get their boots out)
- An ability to see a mud hill as high achievement = Priceless

Day 9, August 29. 2006
DISASTER!! Rex was so excited to start gridding out the area for digging that he left the hotel before 7am. When he turned the corner to get a full view of the site, he found that the pond was back. He jumped into the water to try and rescue the pump, which was completely submerged in the pond (the author believes he probably paused to cry like a little girl). By the time the rest of the team made it to the site, Rex and John Weddel had already worked like mad-men getting the pumps back in working order.

By about 11 a.m., we decided to leave a few people at the site to man the pumps. Our fearless leader, Ron Richards and his fearless sidekick Gerhard took the first shift and the rest of the crew headed back to the hotel for some needed relaxation. John Weddel also remained behind with Ron and Gerhard. At 5:30 p.m. everyone left the site, but by 8 p.m., Rex and Michele had returned to check the pumps. Ron retuned at 1 a.m. to check the pumps.

Today's totals
- Bone Count= 0
- Count of people falling into the muck face first = 0
- Trying to battle Mother Nature with a tin cup = Priceless.

Michele Greenan
Archaeology and Natural History Collections Manager
Indiana State Museum

Saturday, August 26, 2006

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 6, August 26, 2006


Yep, it turned out the way it looked. The backhoe first team, along with Ron and Rex, were on site by 7:00 a.m. and by 9:00 it was obvious that whatever happened to our elephant in large part happened somewhere else. We got most of the ribs and a few odds & ends, but most of our girl ended up somewhere else. The local paper, bless their heart, had encouraged people to show up to volunteer and we had about 100 eager volunteers, including about 2-dozen Cub Scouts, hanging around with not much to do. Fortunately, when there’s not much going on, kids will invent their own entertainment. We put a batch in a back-pile and they amused themselves exploring for “dinosaur bones.” As expected, nobody hit anything, but that didn’t seem to matter. It’s likely to be a Saturday morning most of them will remember for a very long time, mastodont or no mastodont.

We spent about two hours or so packing our gear, ate an early lunch, looked around the site a bit, said our goodbyes – made sure the Plymouth folks promised to visit us at ISM – and hit the road. This is a 2-fer. By 12:30 we were standing in a steady rain, examining a brand new (to us) swamp near Winamac. There had previously been a femur and a few other hopeful signs pulled from the ground and it looked like a reasonable place to start playing in the mud. After a minimal set-up and a couple of hours digging in the back-pile left by the dredging of a new pond, we’d already turned up a new foot bone and part of a rib. Looks like a good place to set up shop for awhile.

Don’t know that I have anything particularly profound to say to wrap things up. Michelle will take this from me starting with the Sunday post. I’ll be in and out of the site over the next week or so. I’ve got a wife and three kids I miss. Tomorrow I’m sleeping in my own bed. I have a real job, too. I’ve got an exhibit to put the finishing touches to, some stuff to write, some paperwork I’m responsible for, probably about a thousand e-mails or so to deal with – three meetings on Monday, if I remember. Back to real life.

I understand we’re looking at 5 days at Pipe Creek next year – 5 million year old rhinos! Maybe two weeks at Megenity. Expect I’ll drop by both. They’ll want someone to talk about what’s goin’ on and I can usually come up with a few words. See ya ‘round.

R. Dale Ogden
Chief Curator of Cultural History
Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites

Friday, August 25, 2006

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 5, August 25, 2006


My first day to post and it looks like we’re pretty much done with the site. We removed eight more ribs from the ground before we left yesterday, but nothing else. Brought the backhoe in this morning to explore what we thought was a hopeful perimeter area, but no luck. Nothing in the few pedestals we took down or a few other sample shoveling squares either. We’re bringing the backhoe in again tomorrow for one final aggressive scouring, but unless something really surprising turns up, it looks like we’re left with a representative of Peggy’s new species of legless, invertebrate mastodon.

Actually, a ribs-only find isn’t all that bad. This is my 8th mastodon expedition and the first in which we turned up just ribs (we did get a molar, both tusks and a few stray odds & ends). Every dig has its own surprises. At Gumz Farm we got feet & knee caps, but no legs. At Shafer, we got pollen & seeds (that was fun). At Bothwell, we ended up with, what, seven young females? Ron says that every dig provides another piece of the puzzle – another clue. Maybe some future paleontologist will put them all together to explain how the world worked 12,000 years ago. Maybe she’ll cite the data we uncovered and we’ll be famous in absentia. Would have been fun to find 80% here, rather than 20%, though. I like being famous now. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Mostly, we’re a bit disappointed for the good folks of Marshall County. When I was a high school wrestler 20 miles down the road in Warsaw, the Plymouth Pilgrims were our mortal enemies. All these years later, it was still a little surprising to discover that some of their old athletes (and their sons & daughters) can, in fact, see their reflection in the mirror. We’d have liked to have given them all a little more of an opportunity to show off for their friends and family.

Ron says it’s about the SCIENCE, but he’d be the first to admit that it’s not ALL about the science. Some of it’s about hanging out with people who aren’t afraid to get mud under their fingernails and a little swamp water in their shorts. And, a lot of it’s about the new friends we have the privilege of meeting. Maybe it’s Hoosiers, or maybe it’s Midwesterners, or maybe it’s even Americans, but I think it’s just people. No matter where we dig; Crawford County, Grant County, LaPorte, Hebron, Plymouth, wherever, we’re always met with friendship and enthusiasm from the people who live there.

Two busloads of schoolkids showed up today and even though we didn’t have much to show ‘em they generally seemed excited to be there and their teachers were endlessly grateful for us “allowing” them to watch. Peggy mentioned the homemade peach cobbler and hot coffee after yesterday’s rain. Today we were offered copies of various photos people had taken and everyone always wants to know how we’re getting along and if we’re eating well and eating enough.

From dig-to-dig we never talk about Iraq, or stem cell research, or the relative strength of this religion or that. We do swap stories and (usually lame) jokes, poke fun at one another and get let in on the latest gossip. We know who’s having trouble with her new bi-focals, what 93-year-old doesn’t like the local football coach, which ol’ boys have stand-up reputations and which not so much. Science aside, we wish we had more to show them. We like them as much as they seem to like us.

I’m worn out. More tomorrow.

R. Dale Ogden
Chief Curator of Cultural History
Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 4, August 24, 2006

Ugh. Very wet all morning. And Ron doesn’t believe in sitting still-- bad for morale and all. So, we shoveled a terrace that we pretty much knew was free of bone. We couldn’t do detailed work on the bones that we’ve unearthed because the rain would have weakened the active site (we had everything important covered with tarps).

Even though there was much minor complaining about the futility of pointless work, it was actually a good idea to shovel in this area. Ron had wanted to confirm that we could abandon this area, and we sure can now. We’re all the way down through the peat, through the bit of clay, and through much of the brown sand, with no bone in sight. And, the shoveling kept us warm. I learned that not only does volunteer John Weddell actively steam when working in a 50 degree cave (see previous posts for Megenity Cave Dig); he also steams when shoveling in the rain.

We stopped late in the morning, and Mr. and Mrs. Day, senior stopped by with hot coffee and fresh peach cobbler. Not only are they donating a treasure to the State of Indiana, but they feed us, too. A reporter from earlier in the week also stopped by, hoping to see us remove some bone from the ground. In addition to several newspaper articles and TV news stories, Ron also did an interview on a local radio morning show. All of this publicity makes a difference, too. People are stopping by to watch, and we love talking to them. However, we do have to be watchful. The Day’s keep an eye on the site at night to discourage unchaperoned viewing.

The rain stopped after lunch, and we were able to start mapping in the bones and removing them so that I could bring them back to the museum. We had a big enough crew that others of us also shoveled some more in the active grids, and we found more ribs. I thought I found a rib, and everybody was fooled until Ron starting poking at it. Just a stick. As of today, this is still a legless and invertebrate mastodont. That’s usually our luck with mastodonts, though. Somewhere, someone is hiding a cache of mastodont legs, and they’re not giving ‘em up.

Today’s my last day here. I leave at mid-afternoon, and hope to see my kids before bed. Dale will be posting for a few days, and after that, we’ll see.

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 3, August 23, 2006


Oh boy, was I tired and sore today! At first at least. I loosened up as the morning went on. Today I began digging and ended screening. The digging of screen-worthy material began in earnest today. Before, we were able to throw away much of the material that we were shoveling. Now, though, we’ve started to excavate the bone units, and so are screening the dirt. So, all of a sudden, the buckets started coming fast and furious, and I moved onto screening. We found lots of spruce cones, and a small beaver tooth and perhaps jaw.

But, the crème de la crème was found while the guys dug. Finally, the skull was uncovered, but was unfortunately pretty disintegrated. But still, a rotten skull is better than no skull. A few nice-sized ribs were also uncovered.

We’ve been hosting many visitors at the site. In addition to the Day family members that have been showing up, high and middle school children have been taking days off of school, or showing up shortly after school. Today, volunteer Ed screened with one, and worked hard to answer questions. It is hard for some of us—I would say that several dig members are not so children-oriented. But, we try, because they love it! Nothing captures a kid’s imagination more than a paleontology dig. Even my three-year-old is starting to get interested.

The dragonflies here are the best and most varied I’ve ever seen. We’ve got a green and blue variety keeping us company, and a species with striped wings. The insects here are, in fact, gorgeous. I watched them quite a bit today, because screening doesn’t have to keep all a body’s attention all the time.

I’m back to mapping. We’ll start mapping the bones into the grid using the total station, which provides geographic and elevation locations relative to an artificial point. This is a so mewhat long and tedious process, with much writing and pausing.

So tomorrow, more sun, more lovely bugs, and another lovely day.

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 2, August 22, 2006


It could be whole lot worse. At about 2:30, after many hours of shoveling for Dale, and several on and off for me, we looked at each other and thought about what we might be doing otherwise. I think that Dale’s pretty much always in meetings, and I’d probably be typing something at my desk.

So, today, we’re busy cleaning up sterile sediment. At least we’re hoping it’s sterile. We prefer a nice tightly clustered site. Ron’s general rule is to dig out 2 meters from the last bone on an edge, so we’re doing it, and then some. I would say that we’re re-delineating. We can do large chunks of dirt though, instead of delicate digging around bone, which takes quite a bit more time.

I actually find this sort of digging very satisfying. On a very basic level, I am changing the earth, roughing it out to my specifications. But all the while, I'm also watching and feeling the sediment change, in color and texture. And so my thinking during shoveling goes something like this: “Mmm, I bought cherries for lunch. Mmm, cherries. Oh, sediment’s changing—this sand has fewer stones than the upper units. Mmm, cherries.”

More happened than just bulk digging today, though. We mapped the grid of the site in today, and the screens were going for part of the day. The sides of our lower pit are gradually undercutting and calving as groundwater trickles through freshly-made walls. Diggers uncovered a small tusk yesterday along the edge of the lower pit, and so today, fearing the wall would slump, Rex pulled it up. Tusks especially are very delicate and often fall apart after they’re removed from the ground. In fact, this tusk came up on a backboard, like a spinal injury victim. But all was well, and it came out intact.

I promised to write a little about the glacial geology of northern Indiana. The northern 2/3s of Indiana was covered at one time or another by continental glaciers. Thus, northern Indiana is flat, a favorite of those who revel in subtlety. As the glaciers were receding - out of Indiana by about 14,000 years ago - they left a changed landscape. Peat bogs were abundant, and it just so happens that most northern Indiana mastodonts exposed turn up within or below peat.

We’re looking at more beautiful weather tomorrow. The Day’s have friends and family watching and helping us, and they provide donuts, too. It could be a whole lot worse.

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

DAY MASTODONT DIG
Day 1, August 21, 2006


What a great start to a dig! We’ve found bone, and have delineated our digging boundaries—we think.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Day’s were digging a pond in a field in northern Indiana, near Plymouth, and the backhoe bucket encountered bone. After calling around, they found their way to Ron Richards, here at the Indiana State Museum. So, here we are digging near Plymouth, two weeks away from the local Blueberry Festival (hotels were awfully tight).

This happens to be one of several mastodonts that people have run into in this general vicinity. The sites all have been dating to around 12,000.

Mastodont digs tend to be different, more traditional, than the peccary dig that we have earlier in the summer. Here we have a wide open space, under the sun, along a tree line, with many visitors. In fact, where the Megenity dig can be considered secretive, the mastodont digs are very very public. We pulled into the site around noon today, and six cars were parked there, with half of them belonging to media crews. After interviews, and primary digging, we began to find bone. Previously, there were about 12 ribs and some other fragments, scavenged from the spoil pile dumped by the back hoe. Now we have some broken tusk, more ribs, and a few other fragments.

The big question is ”How do you know where to dig?” The easy answere is that we start poking around where the original bone was found. We are fortunate in having a backhoe at the site. The backhoe can remove a lot of material really quickly. While the very skilled operator was scraping off muck and peat, Rex and John dug around, looking for stray bone, and the bone-bearing layer. The few that we found in situ were at the top of the sand layer, below the peat and clay. Though Ron screened a few buckets of the overlying peat, we believe that we can dig just in the sand unit and down. So, the backhoe operator scraped off the peat and clay, and we manually scraped it off in areas around bone, or where the backhoe couldn’t reach.

We had a fall, which was almost a bad fall, but turned into more of prat fall. Ron Richards was trying a controlled slide down a bank, but ended up in a very uncontrolled slide into the watery pit. Because he was able to save himself before bodily damage occurred, we were able to have a good laugh. While its funny as long as no one gets hurt, we’re fairly conscience of potential injuries.

What else? I got to help dig today, and I quickly learned that I’m lacking in certain arm muscles. I’m writing this the next morning, and I’m a tad bit sore.

Okay, must be off. More tomorrow about the geology of these many mastodont sites in northern Indiana.

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

Thursday, July 27, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 11 (Last Day), July 27, 2006

We’re out of the cave! Not only are we out of the cave, we’re off the site. There was a ton of work to do, but everyone put it into overdrive and we finished up – about 80 buckets of screening, pulling gear out of the cave and from around the rock shelter, mapping the newly dug areas, hauling all our equipment to the top of the cliff. Last day is always a bear and this was as tough as any, but we’re out. Got back to the hotel about 8 p.m. Indy time and took a looong hot shower. We all got together for a nice dinner (as always in southern IN, Chinese tonight) and now finishing my last blog entry. We’ll head for home in the A.M. The blog was fun – interfered with my sleep and with my ... unwinding ... but it was fun. Hope it was worth a look and not too rambling. Maybe we’ll do it again sometime. In the meantime ...

Our chief curator of Natural History, Ron Richards, is the force of nature behind this project. He’s been organizing the dig, plotting our strategies, driving the workers, finding out what we’ve learned and conveying new knowledge to visitors for 20 years. I thought it proper that he sum-up what we did this year and what we hope to accomplish next season. The following paragraphs are ... essentially ... his words:

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During our annual field seasons we deal with many unpredictable circumstances. With all of the rock, and mud and water; with all the blood, sweat and tears some of the crew may loose sight of our ultimate goal. When you’re not seeing immediate and sexy results like dire wolf skulls or cave bear femurs, it’s easy to get discouraged. Long-term, what we’re looking to accomplish is the excavation, with extensive sampling, of an entire limestone cave. Completing this ambitious task will allow us to interpret the life & environment of Indiana’s Ice Age perhaps more completely than this has ever been done before. A cave often preserves remains from environments that are not usually preserved at typical paleontology dig sites. For example, lake deposits in northern Indiana. primarily preserve aquatic life. The extensive sampling at Megenity Cave will allow us to map the remains of practically any animal whose remains ended up in the cave.

The remains that we have discovered so far, over the course of 20 years of digging, date from over 100,000 years ago to the present. Many of the animals are from the 25,000 - 35,000 year old period and include animals such as the flat-headed peccary, dire wolf and beautiful armadillo that are now extinct. We also find animals that no longer occur in Indiana: yellow-cheeked vole, artic shrew and northern bog lemming (but are in some cases common in northern Canada).

We began excavating deep in the cave’s lower levels, gradually moving, room-by-room, toward the entrance. The first 10 years of the project dealt with the lower levels, the last 10 with the upper rooms. We are now on the final phase of the project, excavating the rooms nearest to the entrance. So far in the Twilight Room we’ve gone thru deposits of the last 8 - 9,000 years. Next season we’ll again enter the Ice Age; 25,000 – 35,000 year old deposits. We’ll plunge deep into the room where we anticipate a great diversity of animal bones. It would be great to find sloth, jaguar or tapir remains – maybe even signs of a great saber cat. This year’s excavation has basically set the table for next years feast. We’ll be ready. Any frustrations will be long forgotten and we’ll be as optimistic as ever.

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We’re on the way home! We’re tired, beat up, worn out, homesick and done with Megenity Cave for another season. Most of us won’t think much about an expedition for the next several months and then we’ll start looking forward to ‘07. For now; family, our own beds (sleeping in a little), pettin’ the dog, home cookin’ and everything that goes with it are our priorities. Oh yeah, there’s that mastodont in Marshall County we’re supposed to go get in August. Most of us should be healed up by then ...

R. Dale Ogden
Chief Curator of Cultural History
Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites

MEGENITY CAVE DIG

Day 10, July 26, 2006

A.M. was much like yesterday -- muggy and still only more so. It’s getting Hot. But, the rain we need is supposed to come tomorrow in torrents. Just in case, we moved the big truck all the way to the empty field at the edge of the woods to make sure it doesn’t get stuck in the mud. It’s a smart move, but it means carrying any equipment we want to take off the site every night an extra couple hundred yards. Just want you want to do at the end of a hard day – lug heavy . . . stuff . . . an extra couple hundred yards. We also moved the two porto-lets (which, only Michelle uses anyway) for the same reason. It’s a tight turnaround in the woods and John smacked the crap out of a very large tree with his truck in the process. Seemed to do lots more damage to the tree than to his truck.

ISM camera crew, Leslie & Ben, showed up around 11:00 to shoot some footage for documentary and whatever else purposes. Katherine, one of the other cultural history curators, came in close behind. Leslie’s shot film at a couple of digs and, I think, had been in the cave before. Ben and Katherine had never been in any cave. It’s always fun to have newbies to show around. Like anything else, you get used to it and everything becomes familiar and you kind of forget how extraordinary the expedition really is. It’s nice to be reminded by the fascination easy to spot in the newcomers’ faces. Leslie and Ben shot lots of footage and Katherine helped out at the screens. Leslie also took every opportunity to remind me just what an evil slacker I really am. It’s always comforting to know that you have the loving support of your colleagues. Speaking of which, Rex had to bail today to attend a meeting in Indy. The cave is a much different atmosphere absent his . . . um . . . colorful(?) persona. He’ll be back late tonight.

Digging has been generally uneventful. No new bone finds worth bragging about. Mostly scraps and more recent (a few hundred to a couple thousand years old) odds and ends that appear to have washed into the cave. We do seem to be opening a “new” passage out of the cave. We’ve been looking for a second entrance almost from the beginning. There’s much too much material scattered throughout the rooms to have all come in from the entrance we know. Some things probably washed into the pits directly by way of deep water channels, but there must have been at least one more “main” entrance. This new opening off to the left of the Twilight Room looks like the best bet so far. O.K., I know this is a little esoteric but, in the absence of dire wolf skulls this year, it’s how we get our kicks. Just humor us a little.

Digging might be done for this season. Grids got squared up today, levels were finished off and scattered rubble was pretty much cleared away. We’re at as good a place as any to stop for now. Doesn’t mean we’re finished – not by a long shot. There are over 100 buckets yet to wash and breaking down will take at least ½ a day. We’re winding down, but the most burdensome work remains. And as usual, there will be more than a few surprises along the way I’m sure.

R. Dale Ogden

Chief Curator of Cultural History
Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 9, July 25, 2006

A.M. was muggy and still. Cicadas drowned out the cardinals and the flycatcher. Far off whistle of a freight train, an annoyed Canada Goose somewhere out on the lake, occasionally the sound of an industrious woodpecker. More flies buzzin’ around than yesterday. Shadows in the canopy of 2-3 relentlessly circling turkey vultures. It all had kind of a Steinbeck quality to it. Really felt like late July in deeeep southern Indiana. Humidity dropped in the P.M. and it turned out to be a beautiful day. We could use some rain. The spring that feeds the screening stations is running a little slow. Doesn’t matter if it rains or not when you’re underground.

As you can probably guess from what obviously had my attention in the A.M., I started above ground – catching buckets like yesterday. We did over 100 buckets today, though, so it was no wuss job this time around. An extra 20 buckets means about an extra 700 lbs. of lifting. We worked today. Lots of buckets is a catch-22. Psychologically, it feels good to be moving a lot of dirt – makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something, and it keeps everyone busy and warm underground. On the other hand, lots of buckets means you’re digging fast, which probably means you’re not being too careful because you’re not seeing anything in the dirt to be careful with. When a skull, or some such is found, bucket-hauling practically grinds to a halt as the diggers go to gentler tools and methods. Anyway, today we moved a lot of dirt.

Had the chance to do a little sight-seeing. Move a few hundred tons of sediment out of a cave and you create a whole new cave. There are 12 foot pits where paths used to be and a couple of pretty good climbs have turned into belly crawls. There’s a new passage from the Squeeze into the Wood Rat Room. Its only about 15 feet long, but you have to lie on your stomach, stretch yourself out to become as skinny as possible and take your helmet off and push it ahead in front of you. And, you have to turn your head sideways to fit. It all interferes with your light, so you can’t really see where you’re going. The passage bends a little to the right, too. It’s not a straight shot. Only takes a minute or so to get through, but it really gets your heart rate up. No one has to do it. The passage doesn’t really go anywhere you can’t get to by an easier route. It’s just fun to see if you can do it. I mean, come on, it’s a cave for cryin’ out loud.

Had to go up to French Lick after we got back to the hotel (about 20 country road miles) to meet with a collector who’s loaning me a movie poster for an upcoming exhibit. I am, after all, still the Chief Curator of Cultural History. I have to spend some time on my real job and not dabble entirely in this hobby. My friend Peter in French Lick is a real trip, so’s this particular movie poster (it was worth the journey). But, that’s not what this blog’s about. Maybe we’ll get to that story some other time. Anyway, it’s another late night and I’m exhausted (not to mention a little homesick). Looks like the hotel room situation worked itself out and we’ll be here through Friday. More tomorrow.

R. Dale Ogden
Chief Curator of Cultural History
Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites

Monday, July 24, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 8, July 24, 2006

Another beautiful day to be hangin’ out in the woods. All the more so because it’s a Monday and not a Saturday. Blue sky, 80 degrees, gentle breeze. Life is good.

This is my 18th season at Megenity. I’d been at the Museum for a couple months in the summer of ’86 and I didn’t even know we did this kind of stuff, so I missed Pig Dig I. Last summer I was returning from a break in Carolina when I got a cell call to pull off the cave trip and head straight to the Bothwell Mastodont dig near Hebron, Indiana. In between I joined the crew in Crawford County every summer for 17 years. It’s good to be back.

As familiar as it is, it’s a lot different cave than it was the last time I was underground. We’ve dug out past the Squeeze, past the chasm where I fell and broke my left elbow in a moment of spectacular stupidity a few years back. All the way to the Twilight Room where you can see a hint of daylight coming in from the cave mouth. It’s a bit surreal . . . familiar, yet foreign.

I got in on Saturday and some of the others had already been here 5 days. I understand the last couple have been more of the same – pulling off the Holocene rubble that washed in from the cave mouth to get down to the Pleistocene bone bed. 80, 3.5 gal. buckets of mud and rock today. It’s a little tedious. You don’t see anything sexy at the digging – no skulls, or jaws, or carnivorous incisors, not even a good femur now and again. Not much in the screens, either – unless you count muskrat skulls or rabbit pelvises. Tomorrow should be a good bone day and if not tomorrow, the day after. In the meantime . . .

I’m feeling a little guilty. The work to get the sediment out of the cave isn’t near as hard as it was when we were digging in deep pits at the back of the cave and we have a pretty big crew this year – 10 to 12 every day. So far, I’ve had kind of the wuss job. In the morning, I catch the buckets as they come out of the cave on a roller system and hook them on a tram that takes them to the base of the rock shelter where they’re carted about 100 yards to the screens for washing. Only about a bucket every 5 minutes, so mostly I sit on a rock and listen to the thrush who’s not happy to have me there, look around the woods and daydream. It ends up being about 1,000 pounds of lifting, but it’s spread out over 3-4 hours . . . kind of the wuss job.

In the afternoon, I trade with the guy pulling buckets up a slope from the dig site to the cave mouth – about 25 feet – by rope. A little more work, but not much. At least I’m in the cave. Don’t put too much stock in that feeling guilty crock, though.

Don’t ramble – more tomorrow. Uber volunteer John Waddell brought his I-Pod & we had tunes for the first time – Zeppelin, Meatloaf, Annie Lennox (I’d say Eurythmics, but I don’t know how to spell it). Pretty sweet. Bill got stuck in the Bat Room entry passage and Rex had to get him out. More than a little funny. I got suckered into exploring the “new” passage between the Squeeze and the Wood Rat Room. Exhilarating. More tomorrow.

R. Dale Ogden
Chief Curator of Cultural History
Indiana State Museum & Historic Sites

Sunday, July 23, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG

Day 7, July 23, 2006

Yikes, what a day! The dig crew spent the day in the “Twilight Room” of the cave. We took out 2 levels of material that had washed in from the mouth of the cave. This stuff had tons and tons of large cobbles and limestone break-down that had to be pick-axed and hammered. By the end of the day, we had excavated some 55 buckets (5 gallon) of material and had carted out some 15 buckets of rocks.

The biggest rule of cave digging was broken today and there was hell to pay. One of the dig crew stated that they had to use the bathroom. We are never allowed to mention such a thing… always slinking out of the cave with excuses like “I’ve got to call my broker.” Leaving the cave for any reason is a pain in the Heinie. Between climbing out of the cave and getting all of your gear “adjusted” any back and forths are avoided at nearly all cost. The unlucky soul who did not remember our rule was forced to sing old Led Zepplin songs to the rest of the crew.

The screening crew had a good day. They came across some good Peccary (an extinct form of wild pig) bones. They also scored a couple of rattlesnake vertebra, woodchuck skull fragments, and some so-far unidentified bits and pieces. All in all, the weather was spectacular and it was a beautiful day to be under ground!

Michele Greenan
Archaeology and Natural History Collections Manager
Indiana State Museum

Saturday, July 22, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 6, July 22, 2006
Today was an extremely busy day for the field crew. We began by laying out a grid inside the "Twilight Room" of the cave. It’s critical to know where you are digging so we outline perfect 50x50 cm squares throughout the passage we are working on. Each square is given a specific number so that when we dig stuff up, we can label them in accordance to their square. This is tough stuff in a cave and we spent much time climbing around the cave - in and out of it’s crevices to drop plumb-bobs from our base line (our central reference line). The dig crews legs got totally bruised up.

After lunch, we started digging our newly gridded area. This was wickedly strenuous since our first levels of material to dig consisted of giant rocks and cobbles, which had to be broken up by pick-axe and carried out of the cave by the bucket-load. Needless to say, by the time we finished for the evening, we were extremely worn-out.

Michele Greenan
Archaeology and Natural History Collections Manager
Indiana State Museum

Thursday, July 20, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 4, July 20, 2006

Today’s my last day at the dig—I left after the gas in pump ran out around lunch time. I was still screening buckets today, and I think we did pretty well for the morning, finishing up the buckets from yesterday morning. Plenty more where that came from, though. That’s how it is. In fact, Ron (Richards, Chief Curator of Natural History) is a big fan of having too much to do (in life and screening buckets)—he thinks that it puts the fire in yer belly if you can’t see the end in sight. So, while we screened 27 buckets, there were about 50 or 60 more waiting in the cave. And it’s only the 4th day!

I promised more about peccary yesterday. I was hoping that we’d have found a shiny, gemmy tooth by this time, but to tell the truth, the things that we’ve been finding in the screen have been fairly usual. The diggers have been finishing up back areas in the cave, for thoroughness only. Nothing too fabulous is in the dirt that has been dug, but to be scientifically rigorous, everything’s got to come out.

So, on to peccaries. Although Ron’s not yet analyzed the bones that have been washed and sorted back at the museum, but he’s got a fairly decent general idea of the way of things at the cave. Based on the bones, it appears that peccaries, the little wiry-haired pigs, probably lived in the cave for thousands of years, on and off. They lived in herds, and probably drew predators. It seems strange to me that larger animals (not just peccaries) would make their way into the back of the cave, because many of the rooms are difficult to access, but with many tens of thousands of years of cave occupation, the random one would, and get stuck. Of course, bones would also get washed in back, with sediment. We have evidence of both.

Now, on to people. People doing field work act differently than people working in an office environment. Just like we’re doing a study of past animals and climate in our cave, a bored person doing the monotonous job of screening can do a sociological study of Homo sapiens stuck together, away from home. My favorite part is that certain people take on rolls that they’ve had for twenty years. One person is the phrase and story master: “Pig diggers, back in county” was a headline in a local newspaper, and now that is repeated in the van before the dig starts, religiously. Others take on the roll of comic relief, and there’s always a scapegoat. Then we go back to work at the museum, and we interact normally again.

Tomorrow, Michele Greenan, our natural history collections manager, is going to be the new blogger. A trained archeologist, she’s been working in the cave, mapping.

Thanks for reading!

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 3, July 19, 2006

Today was not a cave day for me. A couple new people showed up, who I had a sneaky feeling wouldn’t be screening. So, moved out of the cave coveralls and put on the big plastic apron and I screened dirt. The screeners are the end of the line on a dig. There is a temptation to be lazy about the screening—leaving little bits of dirt in the buckets or in the screen. But here we get to the part about why buckets are god.

The entire point of an excavation is to bring home relevant material that is associated with data. Each bucket coming out of the cave is mapped—sometimes one bucket equals a mapped unit, and sometimes several buckets equal a mapped unit. Throughout the entire process of shoveling dirt into a bucket, moving a bucket from cave to screening station, and finally running the dirt through the screen to retrieve just the coarser material, we’re very careful 1). To keep the mapped data associated with the sediment, and 2). Not to mix units by cross contamination.

Quite a bit of effort goes into getting this dirt out of the cave, and finally to home. If the sediment’s been compromised by mixing, or has been separated from its defining information, then its just expensive dirt that we brought home, and not even on our boots.

So, we must not be lazy screeners. And we weren’t. We went through at least 50 buckets today between the three of us. At first, we found very little, just rocks. But then, we started pulling out little bat bones, then rodent bones and teeth, and what I believe to be parts of peccary. It’s a real joy to find shiny wet bones, after smooshing through loads of mud. We even found a bonus fossil—a spine from a Paleozoic shark that came out of the cave ceiling rock, about 350 million years older than peccary and bats and rodents.

So, again a good day. We had a longer day than the others. We didn’t get back to our hotel until 7, but ended the evening with a picturesque car trip to a German buffet.

Tomorrow, a little about cave formation…

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 2, July 18, 2006

Good day today. We had eleven people working, and because it was the first day, we weren’t all busy all the time, but good progress was made in preparation for tomorrow.

Even though I’ve been going to this dig for several years now, today was actually the first day that I worked in the cave. Considering it was a nice, ambient 55 degrees or so in the cave, I think I lucked out. That compared to the steamy 95 degrees that it reached outside.

So, we spent much of the morning moving gear into the cave. First, buckets, then other gear, like mapping equipment and digging tools. Finally, our trusty Denver, who is in fact an exhibit fabricator at the museum, and who has been coming on this dig for ages, began setting up the tram system, and those of us around followed directions.

Why, exactly, a tram system? The cave is actually a fairly long cave, and toward the front is a lengthy, straight section that goes down and up and way down, and back up. So, the train tracks are made for buckets. This brings me back to the thought that I had yesterday about the custom-built nature of the things that we use here. This little tram system that we use, built of two-by-fours, is only used on this dig, and was made as a solution. Once the diggers start digging, the buckets full of dirt move their way, via human chain, through tight squeezes, over boulders, until they reach the tram, where the bucket is hooked onto a rope and pulled up, into the twilight.

This day, once the digging began, I was the bucket hooker, and I sat most of the day wedged between some rocks there. It was actually a fairly easy day for me, because I didn’t have to move around much, and the digging is always slow on the first day.

Other people were working outside, moving the buckets down the hill, to the little tractor, to pull the buckets over to the screening station. Just as the screeners started getting into the groove, the water pump froze up, and the backup pump had to be pulled out of the van.

After this slight glitch, things started moving more smoothly for the screeners, and they were still running dirt through when the cave crew came up into the light. We ended at about 6 today, and had dinner at a nice Chinese place.

Tomorrow, why buckets are god and other tidbits.

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Day 1, July 17, 2006

Just do. Yoda-like, that was said today, as we were sweating, and dragging and hauling gear from the vehicle. That’s about all that a person can do with a delivery truck full of sharp and pointy and heavy tools that need to get down a slick, rocky hill (the gear needs to get down, not the delivery truck). This is our first day, the unloading and setting-up day, of our Megenity Cave Dig. Though we will be stinky, and sore, and tired, and sometimes bored by monotony, depending on our job, I think that I can speak for all of us here, volunteer and staff alike, in saying that we look forward to much of the two weeks down in southern Indiana.

I do have to reiterate that everybody was fairly stinky by the end of the day. Some were stinkier than others.

One of the things that strikes me most about the set-up for this dig, in its twentieth year, is the well-honed nature of the gear that comes along. I’m a relative newcomer to this dig—this is my fourth time here, over my six years at the museum—and I’m continually impressed with the custom-built tools, just for this cave. There are wooden ladders that fit exactly in cave passages, screening stations whose posts fit exactly in holes from last year, and trees that are always used to string up tarps and zip lines. New eyes looking in get the feeling that each plank and each set of hose attachments have been carefully tested, with the duds getting tossed in the trash, and the winners brought along for the next year.

After we got all the gear down the hill, we began setting up the screening station. A massive tarp was strung up between trees, and a little stream down below the hill was dammed. Using several hoses and barrels, an artificial pond was created, from which we pump water back up the hill to the screening station. The tarp protects the screeners, mostly from rain and falling ticks, because the trees are thick enough that the sun is not such a problem. The water we use to rinse the cave mud through screens, and the bones of animals are bagged up and brought home.

We even encountered wildlife in the woods today. Several ticks were found, and four tiny toads were making a home in a log that we had to drag from the road in the woods, to make way for the two porta-potties.

The other thing that amazes me about this dig is that is represents a really pure form of scientific inquiry. This is no wimpy lab science, but hard, backbreaking labor done on behalf of obligation and intense curiosity. And its not just a few intellectuals who’ve been working on this project, but dozens and dozens of museum staff and volunteers with diverse backgrounds. We’ve had homemakers, children, a prison warden, carpenters and historians along. Everyone who comes is at least marginally interested in learning about this unique facet of Indiana.

So anyway, that’s day one. We got done fairly early today and after showers at the hotel, went on to a nice dinner at a local German restaurant. We’ve left the internal cave set-up for tomorrow. That’ll take about half the day, and then the dirt will start moving and we can begin our treasure hunt. I’ll keep you posted!

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

MEGENITY CAVE DIG
Summer 2006


For nearly 100,000 years – during both glacial and interglacial periods – the bones of countless animals have accumulated in the Megenity Peccary Cave. The Indiana State Museum has recovered hundreds of thousands of these remains, the largest and most diverse record of changing animal life in the state.

The Megenity brothers were boys in the 1960s and were told sternly to stay out of a cave that was hidden away on their property. So, of course, they went right in and began discovering bones of unknown animals. Later on, as teachers, they brought their students back. In 1987 some of those unknown bones made their way to IU Bloomington via a former student attending college. A professor at IU contacted Ron Richards, Chief Curator of Natural History, at the Indiana State Museum.

And that led to what is now almost 20 years of consecutive digging. The goal is to empty the cave of sediment by going in for one or two weeks each summer.

Each chamber, informally named by staff and volunteers who dig the cave, captured differing conditions at various times during glacial and interglacial climates.

In the Woodrat Room, seeds, bones, and butter knives were buried together. Generations of wood rats collecting odds and ends left tangled records for paleontologists to unravel.

The Microfauna Room held skeletons of ancient otter, tapir, and thousands of small creatures. Unwary animals fell and drowned in the water-filled chamber, and their skeletons remained largely untouched under a blanket of mud.

The Peccary Room trapped intruders, such as dire wolf, in its pit. Because the area was accessible for 100,000 years, remains were disturbed over millennia by erosion, rummaging animals, seeping water, and disintegration.

Many different types of animals have been found in the Megenity Peccary Cave, but as its name implies, peccaries, relatives of pigs, appeared to have been primary inhabitants. Remains of over 500 of the extinct flat-headed peccary (Platygonus compressus) have been recovered from the cave, yet only a single complete skull has been found.

The dig process itself is unglamorous and dirty. If a peccary tooth were to be tracked on its path from muddy cave to the museum’s display case, it would begin in a bucket, encased in fine, damp clay. Staff and volunteers begin by chunking out clots of mud from a mapped grid. The mud is dropped into a bucket and hauled by other staff and volunteers up ropes, through tight squeezes, over large boulders, and finally makes it outside the cave for the first time in thousands of years. Then the bucket gets hauled, with many others, 200 yards away, to the screening station. The screening station, a tick and chigger infested flat area at the forested crest of a rise, consists of several sturdily framed window screens. Staff and volunteers work the clots of mud through screens with hoses, bagging up the debris that doesn’t go through. Finally, the many bags are carried up a steep half-mile hill to the vans, to be brought back the museum, rewashed, sorted and finally stored, awaiting analysis.

This year, the dig runs from July 17 to July 28, and involves both museum staff and volunteers. Some people go for only a few days, while others spend the whole time at the dig.
We’ll be reporting back each day with descriptions of the different duties that people fulfill, interesting finds, and the strange things that always happen with these sorts of affairs.

Peggy Fisherkeller
Curator of Geology
Indiana State Museum

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For information now, visit the digs section of our website. And don't forget to watch the video about the Bothwell Dig from summer 2005, where the bones of at least seven mastodonts were uncovered. Click on the "Bothwell Video" tab to watch.