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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.

Friday, August 25, 2006

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