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IU Gets $300K Grant To Preserve Angel Mounds Artifacts

Many of the artifacts from Angel Mounds are still in cardboard boxes or brown paper bags used in the field. Photo courtesy of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology

Indiana University researchers have landed a $300,000 federal grant to preserve a treasure trove of artifacts excavated from ancient Native American earthen mounds in southwestern Indiana.

The grant from the National Park Service and other agencies will allow the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology to fully address preservation threats to artifacts recovered from the Angel Mounds State Historic Site near Evansville. Black and his team started excavation in 1939 and Black’s unexpected passing in 1964 halted work.

The artifacts will be rehoused in a new auxiliary library facility named ALF3 that IU is building. Curator of collections Miranda Pope says that rehousing the collection will open up an opportunity for research.

“The site holds a lot of research potential, untapped research potential,” Pope says. “So by being able to rehouse the collections and make them more accessible to researchers both here at IU and other institutions, that’s going to be very, very important for the archeological community.”

That 603-acre site along the Ohio River in Evansville encompasses 11 mounds that were once part of a fortified, walled city Native Americans occupied until about 1450.

The Angel Mounds Collection at IU's Bloomington campus comprises 2.8 million objects recovered there from 1939 to 1983, including artifacts made of ceramic, bone, shell and copper.

Laboratory director April Sievert says the grant is just the first step in safeguarding the collection.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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