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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 25, 2008

Archaeologist opens UI Explorers Lecture Series Oct. 9

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History will kick off its annual UI Explorers Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, with William E. Whittaker, project archaeologist with the UI Office of the State Archaeologist (UI-OSA), presenting "Frontier Forts around Iowa" in the Museum's Biosphere Discovery Hub.

Between 1682 and 1862 Europeans built more than 50 frontier forts in Iowa or in view of Iowa, all designed to control and manipulate Native Americans, Whittaker said. In his lecture, Whittaker will discuss the history of these forts and related archaeological investigations.

Whittaker has been a staff archaeologist at the UI-OSA, a research unit of the UI, since October 2002. Among other projects, he recently completed the analysis and reporting for the Lafayette Mound data recovery project for the Missouri Department of Transportation. He is currently working on a ground-penetrating radar study investigating burial mound structure at Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeast Iowa.

The UI Explorers Lecture Series features University of Iowa researchers, professors, and students presenting relevant and current research relating to culture and the environment. The lectures, which are free and open to the public, are held throughout the year in the museum's Biosphere Discovery Hub gallery.

The lecture series will provide an opportunity for visitors to view the Biosphere Discovery Hub, which explores human interaction with the Iowa landscape throughout history while addressing both local and global environmental issues. This gallery, which opened in September 2007, is centered around a satellite photo of the world on the hall's floor. The culturally oriented and research-based exhibit is focused on Iowa, but also oriented toward addressing current environmental issues with global significance. Starting with a display of how ancient people used the land and ending with an explanation of modern-day farming methods, the Biosphere Discovery Hub explores nearly 12,000 years of environmental and cultural change in Iowa.

Connected to the Hageboeck Hall of Birds, the Biosphere Discovery Hub also includes displays about extinct bird species, such as the dodo. Visitors can see an early conservation film produced in 1918 about a campaign to save the white egret population on Avery Island in Louisiana. Interactive displays with videos, quizzes and interactive maps allow visitors to see UI research projects and presentations. Research on hydraulics, nanotechnology, environmental engineering and many other areas is represented the gallery.

The Museum of Natural History is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information about museum programs, visit or call 319-335-0606.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sarah Horgen, UI Museum of Natural History, 319-335-0606,; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,