Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
Sept. 6, 1996

Students dig it during the summer

by Anthony Stroh, special to Inside
Seven ISU students spent the summer digging in the dirt and at the same time helping to unravel the secrets of Nicaragua's prehistory.

The ISU group, part of a student group from the United States and Great Britain, participated in the Metropolitan Managua Archaeology Project.

Highlights included the discovery of 25 burial urns, the most ever unearthed scientifically in Nicaragua, and excavation of the oldest pre-Columbian architecture found in the country to date -- a stone foundation and plaster floor, circa 70 A.D.

Days began early for the students. After a breakfast of fruit and bread -- and sometimes cornflakes -- provided by their host families, the students were picked up by bus at 7 a.m. and taken to the sites.

By mid-morning, they were dust-covered and bathed in sweat as they meticulously removed layers of dirt with trowels and small brushes, then filtered it through a screen to search for ceramic sherds, bone fragments and stone tools.

Once the field work was complete, the students cleaned the artifacts with tooth-brushes and water, then pored over reference books to identify their finds.

Their scientific reports, which follow up on laboratory analysis of thousands of ceramic fragments and stone tools, or lithics, will be published in Spanish and contribute to a database for further investigations in the Managua area.

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