Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Anne James
For Immediate Release:,June 9, 2004
Fifty Years of Reclamation Archaeology
On Exhibit at Interior Museum

left(WASHINGTON) -- A new U.S. Department of the Interior Museum permanent exhibition, Fifty Years of Reclamation Archaeology, features stories of past cultures told by artifacts uncovered at five Western dam sites.

Interior's Bureau of Reclamation archaeologists and their partners found the diverse group of artifacts at the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State, the New Melones Dam in California, the Central Arizona Project and Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, the Medicine Creek Reservoir in Nebraska, and the Jamestown Reservoir in North Dakota. The 55 artifacts on display provide episodic glimpses into thousands of years of human activity.

Plaster casts of eighteen thousand year-old mammoth bones that may have been shaped and used as tools in the earliest-known human settlements are exhibited, as is a buffalo shoulder blade used as a hoe from the Paleo-Indian period. A bird effigy pendant made from ground stone between 600 and 1450 AD by a member of the Hohokam culture is included in the exhibition with a Redware bowl from the same period.

Highlighting a more recent chapter in history are objects from the mid-nineteenth century unearthed at Grand Coulee Dam's Lake Roosevelt, when reduced water levels revealed the site of a Hudson Bay Company trading post (Fort Colvile) that had been abandoned in 1871. An English earthenware snuff bottle, brass finger rings and forged iron pincers used to trim horse hooves, offer a snapshot of life at this once-thriving trading post.

Using equipment as delicate as a brush or as robust as a backhoe, teams have conducted research at hundreds of archaeological sites uncovered during construction of water resource projects. The exhibit highlights projects from each of the Bureau of Reclamation's five regions.

In some instances, the archaeological teams excavated prior to the construction of the project. At several of the sites, archeological digs occurred during or after the construction projects were completed. In each case, the archeologists painstakingly sifted through the excavated soil, looking for and finding traces of past cultures. The results of these investigations have contributed significantly to American archaeology in method, theory, and data.

The Interior Museum educates the public and Department of the Interior employees about the current missions and programs of the Interior Department, the history of the agency, and the art and architecture of its headquarters building. The Interior Museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except federal holidays) and the third Saturday of the each month from 1p.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is free. Adult visitors must present a form of photo identification (such as a driver's license, student ID, or employment card) when entering the Main Interior Building at 1849 C Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. Wheelchair access is available at the 18th and E Streets entrance. For more information, call 202-208-4743.

A portion of a small bowl decorated in a style known as Tusayan Polychrome (Pueblo III, A.D. 1150 to 1300). Photograph by Lindsay Hunt courtesy of the Museum of Northern Arizona.



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