Cheers for Archeology

Cheers for Archeology

Archeology Month highlights the importance of studying human activity and culture through time.  The fields of archeology, ethnology, anthropology, and folklore can offer insight to modern problems and context to societal behavior patterns.  The state of Indiana’s focus for Archeology Month this year was on the production and use of alcohol in Indiana. The Campus Library has many resources available about a variety of archeological topics.

One major source is the Wiley Online Library, which offers dozens of journals and other sources on anthropological topics. Another resource is JSTOR, which has a slightly smaller selection of journals but a much deeper historical perspective.  Thousands of hours of streaming video are available through Ethnographic Video Online including ethnographic films (both traditional ethnographic methodologies as well as films made directly by indigenous cultures), documentaries, and more, all with searchable transcripts. Daily Life through History covers ancient to recent cultures from across the world, offering context and (where possible) primary source documentation.

IU East’s book collection contains titles that support beginning and advanced archeological research, such as Doing Archeology: A Subject Guide for Students by Donald Henson, Anthropology and Archeology: A Changing Relationship by Chris Gosden, Appropriating the Past: Philosophical Perspectives on the Practice of Archeology by Geoffrey Scarre, or Boundary Conditions: Macrobotanical Remains and the Oliver Phase of Central Indiana, A. D. 1200-1450 by Leslie Bush.  If you were interested in exploring Indiana’s alcohol topic, it even includes books like A Companion to Food in the Ancient World by John Wilkins.

In addition to a wealth of scholarly materials, studying archeology at IU East can be a tactile, hands-on experience through fieldwork. There is an outdoor lab on campus donated by Rob and Nancy Tolley in 2015, and there are several historically significant sites throughout the region. In past years, these have included sites like Grave Creek Mound Archeological Park and Meadowcroft Rockshelter.  Onsite experiences teach both methodology and stewardship – the duty the Archeologist has to the physical site and the culture under observation.

This responsibility is being modelled by IU East faculty Dr. Aaron Comstock, who recently received a preservation grant from the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council.  His project is called “Past, Present, and Future Stewardship of Native Village Space: Integrating Indigenous Voices to Preserve our Cultural Landscapes.” The project focuses on the Guard Archeological site near Lawrenceburg, which offers insights about the beginnings of agriculture by the native inhabitants of the region 1,000 years ago.  The grant will facilitate working with members of the Miami tribe (the descendants of the original inhabitants) to situate commemorative butterfly gardens over burial mounds, restore native plant life (and improve biodiversity) with traditional pollinators, and establish a non-destructive hayfield (much of the nearby area is farmland).  This collaboration with Miami experts will inform and preserve the site in a historically authentic way.  IU East students, Archeology Research Center staff, and community volunteers can assist in these initiatives – the project will continue through summer 2022.  Dr. Comstock can be contacted for more information about the project (or archeology studies at IU East) at

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