When is Iowa Archaeology Month?
As soon as I started the position as Education and Outreach Director last year September, I began to get inquiries from across the state about Iowa Archaeology Month. Many agencies have traditionally participated and wanted to know the timeframe for scheduling events. Being new to Iowa, I didn't know. I soon learned that what began as "Iowa Archaeology Week" morphed into "Iowa Archaeology Month" at various date ranges in August in September. In 1999, Iowa's then governor Tom Vilsack signed a proclamation to declare August as Iowa Archaeology Month. In the 6 years previous to this, Iowa Archaeology Week was held in September. According to the Iowa Archeological Society's Fall 1999 newsletter, during that first Iowa Archaeology Month over 50 events including lectures, workshops, artifact "road shows," tours, exhibits, and video presentations were offered to 20 locations throughout the state. Eventually, International Archaeology Day came into prominence, expanding Iowa Archaeology Month events into October.
When the OSA began participating in RAGBRAI, Iowa Archaeology Month stretched all the way from July into October, still ending on International Archaeology Day. It's true, that the OSA's busiest stretch of outreach events occurs within this July-October timeframe, but that is just OSA. RAGBRAI is by far OSA's most successful yearly event, and this focus took away time and resources from focusing on other events limited to the traditional Iowa Archaeology Month timeframe. Other agencies who do archaeology outreach across Iowa have not been able to participate in RAGBRAI, and that left many out of the loop with Iowa Archaeology Month.
Soon, email threads were flowing from partners across the state who were interested in reestablishing a month-long timeframe for the increased promotion of archaeology, including talks and other events, across the state. Because International Archaeology Day is such an important event with many people and resources involved, the timeframe will still end on that day. In order to take advantage of better weather, starting in mid-September was ideal. Of course, anyone wishing to promote archaeology in Iowa doesn't have to be restricted within this timeframe, but having a 5-week timeframe will help redefine some structure, enable others to pool resources, and create a unified joint effort to promote archaeology throughout the state.
Iowa Archaeology Month has traditionally had a theme, and often a poster. Examples of past themes are, Life in the Ice Age, Hunting and Gathering for Iowa's Past, The Space Within: Containers Through Time, and Baxoje: Maps, Material Culture, and Memory: On the Trail of the Ioway. While this year will not have an overarching theme or a poster, it does give those willing to participate in the promotion of any and all aspects of Iowa archaeology a timeframe to focus their events on.
Even though we're just getting started with this again, there are plenty of events being organized statewide! Stay posted for a listing of events. If you'd like an event to be included on this list, send me an email. Also, in addition to "boots on the ground" events and lectures, let's not forget social media and our virtual world! Promote, promote, promote! Write a blog! These virtual outreach tools are free and a fantastic way to reach a large audience. I'm happy to link to your pages if you give me the information. You can even have a blog posted here in our "What's Happening?" section. OSA contributions can be found on this website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Youtube.
In the Future
Would your organization like to be part of the Iowa Archaeology Month conversation for the future? Do you have theme or poster ideas? Thoughts on fundraising for Iowa Archaeology Month events? Let me know!