General Contracts Program
|What is the site?|
|The Edgewater Park site
represents a Native American campsite located along the banks of
the Iowa River that was occupied around 3,500–3,550 years
ago (2,000–2,050 B.C). Over the years, the site has been covered
by flood deposits from the Iowa River, which is why the site is
now located so deeply under the current ground surface. The trench
around the site has been excavated to help remove groundwater which
might hinder the archaeological investigation.
Click here for more images of the Edgewater Park Site.
Why is the site being excavated?
The Edgewater Park site (also known as Site 13JH1132) will be indirectly impacted by the construction of the Coralville Convention Center and an associated parking facility. Archaeologists are excavating the site to save information about the people who once lived here.
Who are the archaeologists?
The University of Iowa, Office of the State Archaeologist (UI-OSA) was selected by the City of Coralville to conduct the archaeological investigation of the Edgewater Park Site. The supervisors and crew members are highly qualified archaeologists with extensive previous experience throughout the U.S., especially in Iowa and the Midwest.
|How was the site discovered?|
|The site was initially discovered in 2002 during a survey conducted by the UI-OSA on behalf of the City of Coralville. Federal law mandates that an archaeological survey be conducted in areas which will be impacted to ensure that any potential archaeological sites within the project area will be identified.|
Who lived at the site?
Native Americans lived here. We do not know what they called themselves, what language they spoke, or what current tribes might be descended from them. Archaeologists have coined the term “Late Archaic” for the time period during which this site was occupied. The Late Archaic period is marked by cooling climatic temperatures, which led to a recession of the tall grass prairies that supported bison herds. Native peoples who lived during this time began to rely on a more diverse diet to sustain themselves, including deer, small mammals, wildfowl, fish, native plants, and nuts. The social order of these people was also affected by the change in the environment, and groups which had previously been living a more nomadic lifestyle to follow the bison herds eventually became more sedentary.
What are the archaeologists looking for?
They are trying to find remains of fireplaces, refuse pits, tools, and food debris left by the site’s occupants. They are working carefully to see changes in soil color and other clues to identify how the people who once occupied this site lived.
Why is this site important?
The Edgewater Park site was occupied during a period of great change in the lifestyles of native peoples in the Midwest. Technologies which are first identified during this period include the invention of pottery, the construction of burial mounds, and a reliance on plants that eventually led to the birth of agriculture in Iowa. Soil samples are being collected by the archaeologists; these will be returned to the UI-OSA and examined for burned seeds and other plant materials which would show that the people who occupied this site used domesticated plants to supplement their diet. If this can be proven, the Edgewater Park site would represent one of the earliest instances in Iowa.
Are there any human remains?
No human remains were found during the earlier archaeological investigations of the Edgewater Park site, and none are anticipated during these excavations. The City of Coralville, the UI-OSA, and Iowa’s Indian community have procedures in place in the unlikely event that any human remains are found. Iowa’s burial site protection and reburial program has been a national model for over 25 years.
|What happens to the excavated objects?||All artifacts collected will be cleaned and studied at the University of Iowa. These materials will be retained in secure and climate controlled storage for future research. Archaeologists will complete reports on the site in compliance with State and Federal laws and provide updates to the community. The knowledge gained from the archaeological work being conducted at this site will help increase an understanding and appreciation of the lives of the region’s prehistoric inhabitants.|
For more information visit our website at:
(in progress) or contact:
Parks and Recreation Director
City of Coralville
1506 8th Street
Coralville, IA 52241
John F. Doershuk, Ph.D.
University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist
700 S. Clinton St.
Iowa City, IA 52242
Click here to go back
to the OSA homepage.
Click here to go to
The University of Iowa website.