Simulated Archaeological Site
During the 1970s and 1980s the Institute for American Indian Studies was involved with the excavation of many archaeological sites in and near Washington, Connecticut where indigenous peoples once lived and worked. This simulated site includes many cultural features that were uncovered by archeologists during those digs. The three-dimensional site model appears to merge into the mural which provides perspective and scale for the site. You can see a direct correlation between the site features and those in the mural. Also, the more "distant" portions of the painting depict a more distant time period.
The different levels seen in the simulated site are distinct soil layers that represent different periods in time. In a temperate upper woodland area, like northwestern Connecticut, decaying matter that produces soil builds up slowly over time and evidence of past cultures is buried. Some scientists estimate that it can take up to 300 years for one inch of soil to build up. Archaeologists carefully excavate this soil, layer by layer, going further back in time with each level removed.
An archaeologist's primary goal is to learn about the people who once inhabited this land. What were their daily lifestyles? What did they eat? Did they trade with other groups of people? We can learn much by properly excavating a site. When artifacts are removed from the ground improperly, the site is destroyed. If their removal is not carefully documented then the knowledge that could have been gained from that site will be lost forever. Today, whenever it is possible, sites are left intact out of respect for the people who once lived there. Additionally, new scientific techniques are developed over time that may help to better interpret the site in the future.