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University of Iowa News Release


July 14, 2008

UI archaeologists share artifacts while cycling across the state with RAGBRAI

Woodpecker Cave, located in North Liberty on a small stream flowing into the Iowa River, once provided shelter and access to a wide variety of resources. In the late 1950s, the cave was discovered to contain stones, tools, pottery and bone tools that may be more than 1,000 years old. These materials, which are now housed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., are some of the artifacts found by the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist in Johnson County's archaeological sites.

Woodpecker Cave in North Liberty (above) is just one of several stops during The Register's 36th seven-day Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). For the first time ever, staff with the UI Office of the State Archaeologist and the UI Museum of Natural History will participate with other RAGBRAI riders, pointing out archaeological sites, and the artifacts they contain, to cyclists and residents of the communities. This project is possible thanks to a $3,000 grant from Humanities Iowa, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"We are hoping to educate people on Iowa archeology and what it has to offer," said co-chair of Team Archeology John Hall, a technician in the Geographic Information Systems Program at the UI Office of the State Archaeologist. "A lot of cultural information is lost due to progress. We want to make people aware of it and help us preserve our past."

The trip will begin Saturday, July 19, and make eight stops across the state with members of the UI Office of the State Archaeologist and UI Museum of Natural History, with additional presenters from the Iowa State University Department of Anthropology, the Quad Cities Archaeological Society, and the filmmakers of "Lost Nation: The Ioway."

The events begin in western Iowa at Missouri Valley with an artifact road show. The riders will travel on to Harlan, then along parts of the old Lincoln Highway to Jefferson and Ames, looking at archaeological sites, including the site of a horse bone bed at Iowa State University (left).

The group will continue across the state to Tama to speak about the recent historical research in Sauk and Meskwaki locations. Next, RAGBRAI will bike to North Liberty for a film presentation on the Ioway, and Tipton to talk about transportation methods through time. The bike ride will end Saturday, July 26, in Le Claire for an artifact road show, a flint knapping demonstration and a look at Native American life along the Mississippi Valley from the time of the glaciers to the Black Hawk War.

Hall, who will be riding with Team Archaeology, looks forward to visiting Le Claire and learning about its past.

"There's a lot of Native American history there," Hall said. "Also, it's where some of the old riverboat captains use to winter."

The seven-day total mileage for RAGBRAI averages 472 miles. A weeklong rider fee is $125; a weeklong non-rider fee is $35. Instead of entering for the week, participants may enter for daily wristbands for $25 per day with a limit of three days per person for the daily wristbands.

For more information on the ride, visit the Office of the State Archaeologist Web site at

The University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) is a research unit reporting to the Office of the Vice President for Research. The mission of the OSA is to discover, disseminate and preserve knowledge of Iowa prehistory and history. For more information visit or call 319-384-0732.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: John Hall, University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist, 319-339-1981; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070;; Writer, Aly Dolan