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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Feb. 10, 2003

UI Office of State Archaeologists Wins $220,000 Federal Grant

The University of Iowa's Office of the State Archaeologist (UI-OSA) has won a $220,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to support a project that integrates 30 years of transportation-related archaeology. This project will assist planners and archaeologists in identifying areas slated for development that are likely to contain archeologically significant artifacts or remains.

UI-OSA maintains the Iowa Site Records Files, a compendium of all the archaeological sites formally recorded in Iowa. To date, more than 21,000 sites have been recorded in the state. By combining and cross-referencing data from these records, the office will be better able to help agencies like the Iowa Department of Transportation avoid sensitive areas during development projects, such as new road construction.

The framework is called the Landscape Model for Archaeological Site Suitability (LANDMASS). Beth Pauls, the State Archaeologist and director of OSA, said it is based on the premise that prehistoric Native Americans found some locations more suitable for habitation than others, and that those areas can be identified by considering topographic, geologic, hydrologic, pedologic, and other data.

The model is made possible by the ability of current computer technologies, in particular Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to bring together a wide variety of environmental and archaeological data for the purposes of spatial analysis.

"LANDMASS represents the most recent phase in our ongoing work to streamline the archaeological investigation process in Iowa," Pauls said. "By federal law, archaeological surveys are a necessary component in the environmental and cultural impact statements that are required to gain certain development permits. By creating models of Iowa's archaeological site distribution in the lab, LANDMASS will make the field research process more focused and productive for archaeologists and developers."

This project is part of the Transportation Enhancement Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Funding is controlled by state departments of transportation, in this case IDOT. UI-OSA is partnering with USDA-Rural Development in the work. The principal investigator for UI-OSA is Joe Alan Artz, who will direct the modeling team; the contact at USDA-RD is Teresa Bomhoff in Indianola, Iowa.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, . Program: Beth Pauls, State Archaeologist, 319-384-0725,

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: OSA Highway Archaeology Program