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Museum Monday: Bill Is Back!

August 25, 2017
By Bill Green

Welcome back to Beloit College’s Museum Monday series, in which the Logan Museum of Anthropology and the Wright Museum of Art let you know what’s new and interesting in the college museums. Generally, we alternate between Logan and Wright Museum news.

This week, the Logan Museum wants to let everyone know that Bill Green, the museum’s James E. Lockwood Jr. Director and adjunct professor of anthropology, has returned after a sabbatical.

He spent most of the past year researching and writing on Iowa and Illinois archaeological projects. His fieldwork in southeast Iowa involved colleagues from the National Park Service and the University of Iowa, and Beloit anthropology and museum studies graduate Glenne Tietzer’16.

Glenne Tietzer’16 mapping Gast Farm with a total station as part of the geophysical survey
Glenne Tietzer’16 mapping Gast Farm with a total station as part of the geophysical survey, November 2016. Photo by Bill Green.

His fieldwork focused on a place in the Mississippi River valley known as Gast Farm. A village site at the eastern end of Gast Farm dates to around A.D. 100 and one at the western end to around A.D. 400. Bill had excavated parts of both sites in the 1990s along with students and volunteers when he was the state archaeologist of Iowa, but the full layout of the villages was never clear. So last year he arranged for a geophysical survey of both sites. The survey used magnetic gradiometers to detect anomalies, mostly pits and other features that show where people had lived. For the first time, the overall village plans became clear: both communities were donut-shaped, featuring a ring of dwellings surrounding an open plaza. The survey also revealed that seven mounds, long since plowed down, were situated between the two sites. As he watched the village layouts and mounds take shape on the computer screen, Bill dubbed those discoveries—“wonderful things” —as his Howard Carter moments.

He received generous support for his fieldwork from the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration and from Beloit College through a Keefer Senior Faculty Grant.

While on sabbatical, Bill gave several conference presentations and worked on collections and archives in Davenport and Iowa City, Iowa, Madison, Wis., and Springfield, Ill. Between research trips, he also found time to visit Portugal, Spain, Cuba, and Austria. All in all, it was an enjoyable and productive year.

Field crew examining survey results at Gast Farm.Field crew examining survey results at Gast Farm, November 2016. Left to right: Adam Wiewel (Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service), Bill Green, Glenne Tietzer’16 (now with Crater Lake National Park and California State Parks), and Brianna Hoffmann (Office of the State Archaeologist, University of Iowa). Photo by Steve DeVore (Midwest Archeological Center, National Park Service).

Bill says he’s happy that the Logan Museum’s curator of collections Nicolette Meister filled in so effectively as acting director in his absence. The Logan was a busy place last year and promises to be just as active this year. Stay in touch with the Logan via Museum Mondays and on Facebook and Instagram.