UNI students sifting through artificats found in the location of Central Hall

Can you dig it?

Students are digging into the University of Northern Iowa’s past 10 centimeters at a time.

The target of the search? Central Hall, or at least the remains of it. Time has undoubtedly transformed what was once the first building on campus, but the discovery of its ruins could help understand the story of the building, which was erected in 1869 and burned down in 1965. At the very least, the students will gain valuable, hands-on experience in a range of skills needed in their future careers.

One-by-one-meter excavation blocks were laid out next to Lang Hall over where the ruins of Central Hall’s north foundation are thought to be. Students used shovels and trowels to skim off the dirt in 10-centimeter layers. The dirt was sifted through screens to find artifacts. Objects found in place are mapped and the soil analyzed.

The dig was led by Donald Gaff, associate professor of anthropology. This semester, his students will examine any objects they recover in a lab version of the same class. UNI

Digging through the ruins of Central Hall