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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.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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