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Welcome to the first week of the IUPUI Archaeology field school.  We began field excavation May 11th at 800 Camp Street; go visit our 800 Camp Street historical background page for more information on this lot.  We will post pictures to the page regularly, so check back and see what happens to things as the summer goes on.

On Wednesday, May 10th, lifelong Indianapolis resident Thomas Ridley gave us a tour of the Ransom Place neighborhood and Indiana Avenue.  Mr. Ridley grew up in neighborhoods that are now covered up by Lockefield Gardens.  Built in 1937, Lockefield Gardens was one of the nation's first public housing projects, and today some of the original buildings still stand on the north side of campus, just south of Indiana Avenue.  Mr. Ridley took us to the Ransom Place Heritage Learning Center, a museum that examines African-American history in the neighborhood and city, as well as the Madame Walker Theatre. Today Mr. Ridley still lives in Ransom Place.

Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger graphic.

rptour7.jpg (52494 bytes)Left: On north Camp Street. rptour2.jpg (65051 bytes)Center: Touring the Walker Theatre Museum. Right: Departing the Heritage Learning Center with Thomas Ridley. rptour6.jpg (52293 bytes)

On Friday, May 12 we toured the Crispus Attucks Museum.  Curator Gilbert Taylor discussed African-American life in Indianapolis and the impress of African culture on American society.

modeling1.jpg (71306 bytes)Left: Heather models African garb at the Crispus Attucks Museum.

Center: Examining Attucks Exhibits.attuckstour2.jpg (53684 bytes)


attuckstour.jpg (56835 bytes)Right: Curator Gilbert Taylor discusses African-American education at Crispus Attucks.

Units in the west of the site have been placed in area that appears in maps as yard space.  Several of these have immediately yielded laid brick or tile surfaces whose functions can't be determined until we more clearly date them and define their contours.  Most are directly beneath relatively recent artifacts, but the surfaces themselves may be considerably older than the soda can pull tabs and recent debris scattered in the topsoil above them.  The unit pictured in the lower left is closer to the front of the structure and has much different soil; directly beneath the surface the traces of a straight line of mortar have been identified.

feature2-3.jpg (76759 bytes)Left: Portions of a laid tile surface (on the bottom of this picture) and partial brick surface (top) were quickly exposed, though the artifacts on top of the surface are quite recent; oh, 1960s or so...  A neighboring unit to the east contains more of this tiled surface, and a unit to the west includes more of the laid bricks. feature4.jpg (75683 bytes)The same tiled surface was more intact five feet east, where this feature has been uncovered.  These tiles were removed a day later; see the picture below.
feature4517.jpg (81493 bytes)When the tiles were removed (click thumbnail left), a dark soil was revealed, as well as a 1947 penny, which provides a date after which the tile surface was laid.
feature5.jpg (54949 bytes)Left: This unit revealed a line of mortar running north-south.  It is too soon to know whether this is a foundation, traces of a foundation, or some other yard feature.  Many householders in the neighborhood decorated their yards quite elaborately, though this would seem a little unusual at a corner store.  Compare the yard to the right for an example of how Ransom Place yards were once decorated. pond.jpg (146587 bytes)A California Street backyard now contains this example of the yard ornamentation once common to the neighborhood.  While it is a bit deteriorated now, this example still includes a sizable fish pond, small bridge, and elevated flower bed.  This pond has no drain from the fish pond, so maintaining it would have been a chore; the size of the feature further indicates that this was the product of a dedicated housekeeper, rather than a weekend project.
lab1.jpg (71681 bytes)Rain on the 17th sent us in early, where we set to washing screens full of artifacts of varying ages, such as the golf ball in the left foreground. lab3.jpg (74756 bytes)jar.jpg (30487 bytes)Left: This milk glass cosmetics jar still contains the pliable paste remains of makeup.  Right:  In the lab.

Check back soon and we'll post pictures of what these units look like later on.  Better yet, come by the site and see for yourself any weekday between 9:00 and 2:30 through June 21.

Click here to visit the May 24 field school report

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