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Team Archaeology educates local Iowans along the RAGBRAI trail

BY ANDREW POTOCKI | JUNE 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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During this year’s RAGBRAI, spectators can sit and enjoy watching the cyclists ride by, while at the same time learning a bit about the state’s archaeological history.

Made up of four professional archaeologists from the Office of the State Archaeologist, Team Archaeology will ride the whole of RAGBRAI from Sioux City to Davenport.

At every stop, the members will present facts about that particular area’s archaeological history.

“The team is very enthusiastic about the ride,” team captain Alan Hawkins said.

At each stop, they will hand out booklets and encourage people to talk to them about the archaeological history of the state.

The ride will be the team’s eighth year on RAGBRAI, and Hawkins’ seventh year biking across the state as part of the event.

The team will highlight many different sites that lie along the route this year. The members will also have artifacts from these sites on display, Hawkins said.

“We want to put an emphasis on educating the public about the state’s archaeological history,” said Elizabeth Reetz, the State Archaeologist Office education director and a team rider.

Riding in RAGBRAI isn’t free, so the team has been trying to raise money for through sponsors, including the university, as well as donations from private individuals, she said.

Reetz said each rider has a different goal for donations. One has even promised to bike across one of the routes twice if he receives enough donations.

Unlike Hawkins however, this is Reetz’s first time to ride in RAGBRAI.

“It’s a scary thought, but I’ve been training pretty hard, and I’m confident,” she said.

Hawkins noted that there are many more sites than the ones they will highlight during their bike trip.
There are roughly 28,000-recorded archaeology sites across Iowa, and many of these contain historic farmsteads and Native American artifacts, he said.

Some sites even have evidence of human life from roughly 10,000 years ago, Hawkins said.

“A lot of people aren’t aware Iowa has been inhabited for so long,” he said.

Iowa City has a few archaeological sites of its own, including one in Hubbard Park and one under the new Voxman Music Building, Hawkins said.

With RAGBRAI stopping overnight in Coralville, Hawkins said, the team would most likely visit these sites.

For the Iowa City area, the team has partnered with the UI Mobile Museum in order to provide a stronger educational experience.

J.C. Gallet, an employee at the mobile museum, said this is the museum’s second year partnering with Team Archaeology in RAGBRAI.

Hawkins expressed the gratitude the team has for the various groups and people that helped to make the educational excursion possible.

“We’ve gotten a lot of help from sponsors and various individuals that really deserve to be thanked,” he said.


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