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25 June 2005
Excavation of a prehistoric site in Indiana

Ball State University researchers are studying the remainder of what was once called the finest example of a prehistoric Native American site in Indiana. The property formerly contained a burial mound surrounded by a 31-acre rectangle made of earthen walls reaching 9 feet high - the largest Indian enclosure that has ever been found in the state. "This site is part of the puzzle of what these people were doing here in East Central Indiana right about 2,000 years ago," said Donald Cochran, director of BSU's archaeological resources management service.
     Cochran has found records of more than 300 prehistoric mounds and enclosures in this region of the state, "but when we go out to try to find them, there are maybe about 80 of them that there are some remnants left," he said. "The rest are gone."
     The property is known to archaeologists as the "Fudge site," because farmer Albert E. Fudge owned it in the late 1920s when University of Chicago anthropologist Frank Setzler excavated the hundred-foot wide, 15-foot tall mound, which is completely gone now. The historic site's four earthen walls, each more than 1,000 feet long, have been plowed down as well, replaced by corn fields, two roads, a gravel pit, and more than half a dozen homes. Before it was excavated, the mound was used as the grandstand for a horse-racing track.
     Cochran said of the Fudge property: "This site could have been a major tourist draw, had it been preserved. A lot of sites like this have been preserved as state and national parks. This site was very unusual. It was the largest enclosure in the state of Indiana. This thing was huge. And there was a mound in the center." Cochran has received a federal grant through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to help pay for a new investigation of the site.
     The property still contains tremendous potential for a better understanding of the pre-historic Indian cultures known as Adena-Hopewell, or Early Woodland and Middle Woodland, the researchers say. They hope their investigation will provide answers to many questions, such as what activities occurred at the site, when was it built, how was it built, how the site relates to other earthworks in this region, and what's left of it. A 1936 aerial photograph of the site revealed dark, circular areas inside the enclosure that could be an undocumented feature.

Source: TheStarPress.com (21 June 2005)

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