The Dirt Blog

The Dirt: The Glenn A. Black Archaeology Blog


Spring 2017 Donations

by Melody Pope, Curator of Collections, May 1, 2017

The GBL received several donated collections over the course of the Spring 2017 semester: 

Robert F. Braunlin, M.D., and G. Louise Braunlin Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of significant artifacts, books and related documents from the family of Robert F. Braunlin, M.D., and G. Louise Braunlin. Dr. Robert F. Braunlin was an avid collector of Native American material culture especially in the 1930s and 1940s. The collection was passed down to Dr. Braunlin’s son William. William Braunlin’s son, also Robert F. Braunlin, and his sons completed the transfer to the GBL in December 2016. The items will be part of the laboratory’s permanent archaeological collection, and will also be part of the donated collections that explore the practice of collecting antiquities during the early part of the twentieth century. The collection numbering nearly 1,200 items includes ceramic vessels, pipes, atlatl weights, bone tools, plummet stones and numerous chipped and ground stone tools.

Jeremiah Mattix Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of a small collection of artifacts from the family Jeremiah Mattix. Mr. Mattix farmed in Indiana Creek Township, Pulaski County, and Liberty Township, White County, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; this donated collection reflects the collecting of Native American artifacts turned up by his plow. The collection was passed down to the granddaughter of Jeremiah Mattix, Orpha Wickersham, and then to her executor who was the mother of David Lottes of Fairmount, Illinois. Mr. Lottes donated the items to the GBL on behalf of Jeremiah Mattix. The items will be part of the laboratory’s permanent archaeological collection, and will also be part of the donated collections that explore the practice of collecting antiquities during this time period. The collection includes numerous projectile points that will be part of a project that maps spatial distributions of point types and raw materials across land forms and regions in Indiana.

Anonymous Collection

The Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology announces the donation of a small collection of artifacts from an anonymous donor. This collection includes numerous projectile points found in Tippecanoe County near Lafayette, Indiana, between 1975 and 1977. The donor was affiliated with Purdue University at the time and was involved in corn research that required traveling the county and surveying fields for weeds, insects and diseases. The collection will be part of a project that maps spatial distributions of point types and raw materials across land forms and regions in Indiana.


SAA Conference: March 2017

by Melody Pope, Curator of Collections, April 28, 2017

An image of a banner for the SAA (Society for American Archaeology) from the meeting.

In March, Curator Melody Pope traveled to Vancouver for the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Pope presented a paper titled “Exploring the Ineffable Aspects of Stone Tools” in the symposium “Integrating Functional Analysis: Contributions from Use-Wear Analysis within the Broader Context of Human Behavior in Prehistoric North America,” organized by Katherine Sterner and Robert Ahlrichs. She also attended several informative sessions on collections management, digital archaeology and heritage, collections based research, and archives. While in Vancouver Pope had the opportunity to visit the University of British Columbia - Vancouver Campus Museum of Anthropology and took in some sights while hiking the City of Vancouver sea wall.

View overlooking the City of Vancouver's sea wall.

A structure made from stones on display at the City of Vancouver's sea wall.

Hiking the sea wall.


Drums Along the Scioto

by Hannah Rea, April 11, 2017

An image taken at the

The Mathers Museum of World Cultures Classroom was packed full of people for a lunchtime talk on Tuesday, April 11.

The discussion, entitled “Drums Along the Scioto: losing our marbles but gaining new insights on Hopewell material culture from contemporary Shawnee ceremonial practices,” was a joint presentation of a collaborative research project by Ben Barnes, Second Chief of the Shawnee Tribe, and Dr. Brad Lepper, Senior Curator of Archaeology for the Ohio History Connection.

In the talk, they discussed objects found at the larger Seip Mound in the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park in Ohio. Specifically, five small stone orbs –Steatite Spheres. Unearthed in excavations led by Henry Shetrone in the 1920s, they were previously thought to have been marbles used as children’s toys.

Second Chief Barnes and Dr. Lepper described that Shetrone likely arrived at this conclusion by using his current context, as marbles were a popular pastime of American children in the ‘20s; however, Second Chief Barnes pointed out, there is no evidence of such games existing in American Indian culture.

A possible identity can be found in the practice of using water drums, common throughout the centuries in various tribes across America: cylindrical bowls or dishes, sometimes made of wood, which are covered in various types of animal hides, are secured; around the edges, small round stones are pulled tightly and tied in place under the hide. The stones seem to bear a striking resemblance to those found in the Seip Mound excavation.

Dr. Lepper explained that he hoped this possible identification would open a discussion on new interpretations of the objects, saying it was an “exciting opportunity” moving forward to increase conversation on Hopewell culture.

Video of the talk can be found in two parts on the GBL’s Facebook page.

Contributors

Headshot of Rachna Chaudhari

Rachna Chaudhari is a senior majoring in biology at IU. This spring, she is a Bicentennial Intern. In this internship, Rachna will be researching the Wylie family and recent artifacts found at the Wylie House. Her work will provide important background information for an upcoming excavation project at the Wylie House led by the Glenn A. Black Laboratory. She will be posting updates about this exciting project on this blog, so stay tuned!

Headshot of Maclaren Guthrie

Maclaren Guthrie graduated from Harmony School in Bloomington, Indiana in Spring 2017. Maclaren spent the majority of her senior semester project working at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology addressing the essential question: “What is the importance of the study of Archaeology and how does it affect the everyday life of the average person?”. Another leg of her project was assisting on an excavation at James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange,Virginia. Maclaren will be attending Indiana University this fall to pursue a major in archaeology.

Headshot of Hannah Rea

Hannah Rea is a sophomore in journalism and history at IU. She’s passionate about studying and preserving history, and started as a volunteer at the Glenn A. Black Lab in August 2016. Now, as the social media and programming intern, she is helping to share the great resources at the GBL and connect with the community.