Special Publications

Discovering Archaeology: An Activity Guide for Educators (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Author: Shirley Schermer
1992, 55 pp.

Archaeology is a multi-disciplinary, multicultural subject that offers teachers an engaging, hands-on way to introduce students to a variety of topics in science, history, social studies, citizenship and character education.  This guide contains detailed instructions for ten activities that teachers, scout leaders, and other educators can use to introduce children to archaeological concepts.  The lessons and activities are aimed at students in grades 5 through 8 but can be modified for other students. Each lesson addresses a specific topic, outlines the length of the lesson, the materials required, and provides a glossary and references for further information.  The volume also includes background information about archaeology, a brief culture history of Iowa, and a list of archaeological sites, museums, and resource centers in Iowa. 

The Iowa River Greenbelt: An Archaeological Landscape. Iowa Quaternary Studies Group Contribution No. 49. (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Author: James M. Collins
1991, 49 pp.

This volume brings together the results of an extensive project that was focused on the Iowa River Greenbelt area in Hardin County.  The project identified 84 archaeological sites in Hardin and Grundy counties. These sites include both prehsitoric, historic Native American and historic Euro-American components. The book was prepared to inform the public about the results of this archaeological survey with a minimum of jargon. The goal of the study was to find important sites and to gain knowledge of past cultural processes in order to enhance understanding, and propose more informed interpretations of past human adaptations in Iowa and the Midwest.

A Guide to Native American Artifacts in Iowa Hall. Special Publication (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Author: Alison Laird
1989, 60 pp.

Opened in May, 1985, Iowa Hall is a gallery in the Museum of Natural History located in Macbride Hall on the campus of The University of Iowa. The exhibits were designed to illustrate the natural history of Iowa through the components of geology, archaeology, and ecology. This special publication was created as a guide to the Native American artifacts which were incorporated in the display.  It was intended to document the available information regarding these cultural materials including the sites the artifacts came from, relevant descriptions, and references to previously published reports.  With the exception of the ethnographic materials featured in the historic Meskwaki display, the artifacts exhibited were assembled from the permanent collections of the Office of the State Archaeologist or from the Charles R. Keyes Collection.

Since the opening of Iowa Hall more than 30 years ago attitudes and understanding of the meaning and importance of some of the sacred objects in the exhibits have changed. Following the guidance of the Native American Advisory Committee, some of these artifacts have been removed and returned to the tribes. This guide reflects the exhibit as it was originally designed.

Iowa Projectle Points (PDF Download)

Author: Toby Morrow
1984, 114 pp.

Iowa Projectile Points is designed as a guide to assist with the identification of projectile point types commonly found in the state of Iowa. A few examples of diagnostic knife and scraper types are also included. It is organized by general typological forms (Lanceolate Points, Stemmed Points, Side-Notched Points, Corner-Notched Points, and Small Points) with the attributes considered for identification carefully described. The descriptions accompanied by Morrow's detailed line drawings make the guide easy to use. Appendices to the volume are equally informative including descriptions of raw materials commonly used for chipped stone tools in Iowa, guidance on recording archaeological sites,information on caring for a collection, and a review of Federal and State Laws Pertaining to Antiquities in Iowa.  In the years since this guide was written the chronology of projectile point typology has been refined by on-going research; however, the chronological listing of diagnostic artifact types in Appendix B remains generally accurate.

Iowa’s P.A.S.T.: A Classroom Manual for the Video Series (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Author: Julianne L. Hoyer
1993, 118 pp.

Iowa's P.A.S.T. was originally created in 1993 to accompany a video series designed for use in elementary and middle school classrooms.  The ten videos in the series highlighted key culture groups associated with Iowa's prehistoric and historic past, the science of archaeology, and the importance of preserving evidence from Iowa's past. Although the videos are now out of date the basic information presented is still accurate and the lessons and activities associated with them are still useful for educators interested in using archaeology and local history to enliven their lessons. Each section includes the key concepts of the lesson, vocabulary, the full text of the video narration, discussion questions, classroom activities, tests for key concepts, and related references. Supplementary information on Iowa archaeology and prehistory is available in the appendices. 

Titles included in this series are: 

  •  "The Early Iowans" - This lesson examines what we know about the earliest Ice Age hunters in Iowa, discussing where they came from and tracing changes in their hunting techniques over time.
  •  "The Hopewell Culture" - This lesson focuses on an early mound building culture in southeastern Iowa which participated in a widespread religion which encompassed much of the eastern United States 2000 year ago.
  •  "The Iowa Effigy Mounds" - This lesson presents the concept of an archaeological theory as it explores the origin and purpose of the animal-shaped effigy mounds of northeast Iowa.
  •  "Earthlodge Builders at Glenwood" - This lesson shows how archaeological evidence is used to learn about the distinctive houses and other facets the Glenwood culture, a farming culture which occupied southwestern Iowa from about A.D. 900 to A.D. 1200. 
  •  "Northwest Iowa Farmers" - This lesson compares the archaeological evidence left by two different farming groups who lived in northwestern Iowa 1000 years ago, showing how archaeologists study prehistoric cultures and illustrating different cultural adaptations to a similar environment and lifestyle.
  •  "Ancestors of the Ioway" - Using a combination of historical and archaeological research this lesson examines the roots of the Ioway Nation to the prehistoric culture group know as the Oneota.  
  •  "The Meskwaki Indians" - This lesson focuses on the Meskwaki Nation, Native Americans who are a major part of Iowa's story, both past and present. Topics include: the Meskwaki-Sauk association, events leading up to the Black Hawk War, their ultimate permanent settlement in Iowa, and the way in which the Meskwaki balance the pressure to adapt to contemporary Euro-American culture and preserve their traditional heritage.
  •  "The Ancient Site at Cherokee" - Using the excavations at the Cherokee Site in northwestern Iowa as an example, this lesson explains how archaeological work is conducted and how archaeologists interpret data . Excavations at the Cherokee Site allowed scientists from many disciplines to study climate changes and cultural adaptations over a 2000 year period of Iowa's past.
  •  "Preserving Iowa's Past" - This lesson is a plea for recognizing the need to preserve cultural resources such as archaeological and historic sites. It emphasizes the fact that the goal of archaeology is learning about the people of the past, not the collecting of artifacts, and that archaeological sites are non-renewable resources. It discusses some of the ways archaeologists are working to preserve the record and how the public can help.
  •  "Archaeology and You" - This lesson discusses the contributions made by professional and amateur archaeologists and talks about the types of training archaeologists receive and how amateur can participate.