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Indiana students hope to dig up buried past

CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – There is a place in the forests of Carroll County that has remained largely undisturbed since it was settled in the 1800’s.

And now, some students are digging around in hopes of learning more about Indiana’s buried past.

Christopher Moore is an archaeologist and Associate Professor and the University of Indianapolis. He spends most of his days digging, in what he calls one of man’s only untapped frontiers.

“Instead of in wagon trains and keel boats, we’re doing it at the trough’s edge, we’re digging down into the past, into these different layers to try and figure out who these folks were,” said Moore.

The dig is part of a bicentennial legacy project with UIndy, at Baum’s landing in Carroll County.

That notion of discovery, settlement and of pioneering spirit is a real strong part of the American psyche.

“Here you see it’s coming up as granules kind of like sand, but those are those worm casts and you can see those worm holes as you go down there,” said Moore.

The Baum’s were one of the first and most influential families in Carroll County. Today’s dig, included the area they called home.

Moore said, “Until Delphi was formally established, the center of Carroll county life took place here, the first courts for instance were established at the Baum residence in this location. It’s like anybody’s trash. People don’t think about this very often but your trash says a lot about who you are.”

For the students, it’s a meaningful way to spend the summer.

“I like history, but this is a chance to change or make history, and that’s really cool,” said one University of Indianapolis student.

For the pro,it’s a dig that becomes more gratifying with each find.

“Even now, I’m sometimes amazed at how much we can tease out of the archaeological records. Most of our history is actually unrecorded because most of our daily lives those people who came and went, there’s nothing written about them at all, about who they were, how they lived,” said Moore.

Even at a site that’s been relatively undisturbed for 200 years, the most important discovery is that the human condition has remained largely the same.

“What we find out inevitably is that a lot of the concerns, a lot of the questions, a lot of the issues that they were facing wind up being very familiar to us. Where we’re going to get our next meal is a question that people have had throughout all of time. It was the same for pioneer families first settling here in the banks of deer creek. and it’s been the same for native peoples before that and it’s the same today for people dealing with food insecurity and food desserts in the cities and those sorts of things.” Said Moore.

“For this legacy project we’re trying to draw on that broader legacy of the pioneering spirit, and the American psyche and what it meant for our ancestors to be these pioneering families settling Indiana when it became a state in 1816. The sons of the pioneer families who came here eventually were the pioneer families that were heading to Kansas and Oklahoma and all these places,” said Moore.

Right now you can go and watch the digs at Baum’s Landing.

This fall, there will be public digs, where you can grab a shovel and help sift through history. For information on dates and times, click here.