Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


July 9, 2009

UI archaeologists share artifacts while cycling across the state with RAGBRAI

The Carlisle Clovis cache, in Warren County dates to the end of the last Ice Age -- 11,000 years ago -- and represents the oldest excavated, intact archeological site in Iowa. It is also the site of the recovery of 38 unfinished stone tools possibly created to supply early hunters with material for spear points and butchery tools in a part of the state where good stone was hard to come by.

To allow the public to view this collection, the University of Iowa Office of the State Archeologist will exhibit these tools in Milo, Iowa, on the third day of RAGBRAI 2009 as part of "Archaeology on the Road."

The exhibit is just one example of how "Archaeology on the Road," now in its second year, is designed to draw attention to Iowa's rich archaeological past for the thousands of riders and community members participating in the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).

Joined by staff from the UI Museum of Natural History and the State Historical Society of Iowa, Team Archaeology will bike the entire 472 miles of RABGRAI, pointing out archaeological and historic sites along the route. The project is made possible by a $10,000 grant from Humanities Iowa, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support comes from historical and archaeological organizations across Iowa.

The trip begins Saturday, July 18, in Council Bluffs at RAGBRAI EXPO. Here riders can obtain an "Archaeology on the Road" booklet, a road map to important discoveries made along this summer's route, which cuts across the state slightly south of Interstate 80.

Over the next seven days, Team Archaeology cyclists will informally discuss Iowa archaeology with fellow riders, passing out free wristbands imprinted with the address of the Iowa Archaeology Web site. Outreach exhibits will also be set up mid-day in the following four communities: Henderson, Milo, Moravia and Packwood.

"We want to spread awareness that Iowa has this rich deep history," said Lynn Alex, director of education and outreach for the UI Office of the State Archaeologist. "Archaeology is one way we know about this history."

At Henderson in Mills County on Sunday, July 19, Team Archaeology will set up its outreach exhibit not far from the Glenwood culture earth lodges, built by early Native Americans 900 years ago. Riders traveling on to Red Oak may check out an approximately 300-year-old dugout walnut canoe at the Montgomery County History Center. At Milo on Wednesday, July 22, Iowa State University professor Matt Hill, discoverer of the Carlisle Clovis Cache, will join Team Archaeology.

The group will continue across the state to Chariton to learn more about the bones and teeth of mammoths and mastodons that have been found in all 99 of Iowa's counties. Next, RAGBRAI will bike to Ottumwa and on to Mount Pleasant. Outreach exhibits at Moravia on Thursday, July 23, and Packwood on Friday, July 24, will look at Native American life along the Mississippi from the time of the glaciers to the Black Hawk War.

The bike ride ends Saturday, July 26, in Burlington. Community members are invited to bring their local discoveries to exhibit locations for an "artifact road show" and to watch evening flintknapping demonstrations by Team Archaeology at the RAGBRAI campgrounds.

"This is meant to be for community members," Alex said. "We want them to see that these resources are available to them throughout the year if they want to get in touch with us about archeology."

This year also marks the 50th anniversary for the Office of the State Archaeologist. In 1959 the 58th General Assembly created the position of State Archaeologist to be held by a faculty member in the UI Department of Anthropology. Today the office has expanded and now maintains records on more than 23,000 sites in a state-of-the-art Geographical Information System, curates 4 million artifacts in acid-free containers, and reports the results of dozens of projects each year to professionals and the public alike.

For more information on the ride and exhibit locations, and to request an Iowa Archaeology wristband or poster, visit the Office of the State Archaeologist's 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: Lynn Alex, University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist, 319-384-0561,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070;; Writer, Tessa McLean