Anthropologists, archeologists and university students carefully sift through dirt and set up survey markers in a part of the Hoosier National Forest that was home to a German family. They are a part of a team lead by the USDA and Indiana University that is excavating a nineteenth German settlement site in the southern part of the forest.
“What we have behind us is actually what’s left of the house, which is the cellar,” Timothy Baumann, the curator of Archeology with the Glenn A. Black Laboratory, explains as he stands in front of what looks like a large sinkhole. “You can see the square depression here and then the cellar entrance is just to my right so where people were going down into the basement.”
Baumann says the family that lived here tried to farm, but eventually left because of the ground became infertile.
Hoosier National Forest Archeologist Angie Krieger says there are many settlements like this in the forest but most of them still need to be studied and preserved.
“It’s just like any other resource, water, soil that we are charged to manage. It’s just that cultural resource sites are nonrenewable,” she says. “They’re not like trees. If they get destroyed, they’re gone. They’re gone forever, you can’t get them back.”
The excavation will continue through the next two weeks. The artifacts will then be taken to a lab where they can be analyzed for more information.
The National Forest is also hosting an open house this weekend where tourist can learn more about the site.