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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 16, 2004

Iowans To Explore 'Life In The Ice Age' During Iowa Archaeology Month

For anyone who has lived through an Iowa winter, it's not much of a stretch to imagine the whole state looking like northern Canada. But these days, we can usually count on warmer temperatures by March or April. What was it like in Iowa when the whole region was in the grips of a deep freeze, covered in tundra for thousands of years? How did the earliest residents cope?

The Office of the State Archaeologist at the University of Iowa is offering Iowans a chance to find out during Iowa Archaeology Month Sept. 18 through Oct. 16 with statewide events celebrating this year's theme, "Life in the Ice Age." Ancient finds recently uncovered in Iowa and the Midwest, and a national debate concerning early human remains, have renewed interest in both the animal and human residents of the Ice Age.

The Pleistocene, or Ice Age, began over 2.5 million years ago and ended a short 10,000 years ago. During this time, numerous ice sheets formed and moved south from Canada into the United States. Periodically the climate warmed and the glaciers receded, only to form and surge south again. About 50,000 years ago a large ice sheet formed in the Hudson's Bay region, and began to move as far south as Greene County in Iowa. Part of another, the Des Moines Lobe, entered Iowa and pushed down through the center of the state to reach Des Moines about 17,000 years ago. It finally retreated 14,000 years ago.

The first weekend of Iowa Archaeology Month, Sept. 18-19 features events in Dubuque, Hardin, Polk, Winnebago, and Van Buren Counties. Other events are scheduled throughout the month in Allamakee, Boone, Dallas, Grundy, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Montgomery, Scott, Wapello, Winnebago, and Winneshiek Counties. For the first time, three selected communities (Iowa Falls, Red Oak, and Storm Lake) and museums in three cities (Dubuque, Des Moines, and Davenport) have been selected for special Iowa Archaeology Month programming.

The Office of the State Archaeologist at the University of Iowa has, for more than a decade, coordinated Iowa Archaeology Month, an annual statewide commemoration to foster awareness of Iowa's nonrenewable archaeological heritage and encourage public participation in its understanding and conservation. Each year Iowa Archaeology Month engages the participation of dozens of humanities presenters, promotes partnerships among cultural, historic, and environmental organizations statewide, and introduces thousands of Iowans to archaeology and its lessons of the past.

In addition to the Office of the State Archaeologist at the UI, major sponsors of Iowa Archaeology Month include: Humanities Iowa, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Iowa Archeological Society, State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Association of Iowa Archaeologists.

Archaeology Month activities are designed for people of all ages, although some events, such as lectures and videos, are more appropriate for adults. There are also several events throughout the month that are geared specifically towards children, including Time Capsules from the Past and spear throwing. Most events are free of charge although some venues have admission fees. Complete details are available on the Office of the State Archaeologist website, The calendar will be updated as needed.

For more information about Iowa Archaeology Month, contact Lynn Alex at 319-384-0561, or visit the OSA web site

The Office of the State Archaeologist is a research unit of the University of Iowa. Its mission is to discover, disseminate, and preserve knowledge of Iowa's human pre-history and history. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa appoints a State Archaeologist, who is a member of the UI Department of Anthropology. The State Archaeologist directs a program of statewide archaeological research, service, and education. More information is available at

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

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, Program: Lynn Alex, Office of the State Archaeologist, 319-384-0561,