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Nov. 30, 2005

Friends of the Natural History Museum Ready New Troyville Exhibit

The Friends of the Natural History Museum at the University of Louisiana at Monroe are preparing for the grand opening of a new photography exhibit of the Great Mound of Troyville discovered in 1804 at their museum site on the third floor of Sandel Hall.

The focal point of the grand opening will be the exhibition of 99 unique black and white photos documenting an ancient mound at Troyville, La. The mound is believed to have been originally over 80 feet tall. In 1931, Winslow Walker, an archeologist from the Smithsonian Institute, uncovered preserved organic remains from the mound. The photos that will be displayed are prints of the photos of his original findings. Each 8” x 11” photograph will be displayed with a statement explaining the photo’s contents.

The grand opening will be Thursday, Dec. 1 from 7- 9 p.m. on the third floor of Sandel Hall. Speakers will be state archeologist Tom Eubanks and Dr. Chip McGimsey of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. All media is invited to attend.

The exhibit will also be open Friday, Dec. 2 from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. It will continue through the weekend and will be open Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. The exhibit will remain open Monday Dec. 5 -Thursday, Dec. 8 from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. each day.

A limited showing of the photos was on display at Marksville State Park through Nov. 29.

Experts in 1804 described the Great Mound of Troyville as a three-stage mound measuring 82 feet in height and 180 x 180 feet at the base, making it the tallest mound in Louisiana (at least 10 feet higher than the largest mound at Poverty Point).

Dr. Joe Saunders, archeologist at ULM, says this exhibition is exciting and rare and that there is much history stored in the mound.

"Between 1804 and 1932, the Great Mound was reduced to its current height of approximately 3 feet. The final leveling of the mound took place in 1932. Smithsonian archaeologist Winslow Walker conducted limited excavations in the mound and uncovered details about how mounds were construction that has yet to be matched to this day," Saunders said.

"Discoveries included split-cane domes 25 feet in diameter, wooden planks up to 7 feet in length, palmetto covered floors, a palisade wall at the base of the mound, log steps up the side of the mound, and layers of cane matting secured to the mound with wooden stakes. His 1936 report included 12 photographs of his phenomenal finds," said Saunders.

This one-of-a-kind event was made possible through efforts by regional archaeologists McGimsey and Saunders of ULM. They discovered the black-and-white photographs from the Walker excavations. Through grants from the Louisiana Endowment of the Humanities, Justiss Oil, and Friends of the Museum of Natural History at ULM, prints of the original photographs will be displayed at the museum for the first time, the archeologists believe, in over 70 years. The photographs reveal details about the engineering of mound building, the wooden plank floors, the mysterious split-cane domes, the palisade, and the stacks of logs at the foot of the mound.

About the Museum:

The Museum of Natural History will promote an appreciation and understanding of natural history with an emphasis on north Louisiana, its animals, plants and human cultures, as a part of the global environment. The museum will support the generation, synthesis and dissemination of natural history information by facilitating natural history research by the students and faculty of ULM and the national and international community of scientists and students. It will
also serve as an educational center for the region through the development of exhibits and tours and will encourage the production of scholarly and popular natural history publications by its staff, research associates, students and users from other institutions.

ULM houses unique and significant research collections of fishes, reptiles and amphibians, plants, fossils and archeological artifacts. The vertebrate and plant collections are among the largest in the world with a primary focus on southern North America, a major center of biodiversity. The archeological collections contain the greatest number of mound artifacts of any institution. In addition to their use by numerous scientists, these national treasures have served in the education of thousands of undergraduate and graduate college students. Each year, thousands of school children from northeast Louisiana parishes also tour the collections and visit the exhibits.

Persons or corporations wishing to become a member of the Friends of the Natural History Museum are encouraged to do so. Corporate memberships range from $250 to $10,000 and personal memberships range from $15 for students to $750 for a lifetime membership.

For information about the Friends of the Natural History Museum or to become a member, contact Dr. Mike Zambie at 322-5555 or Dr. Frank Pezold at 342-1868.

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