Behind the 20-year archaeological excavation on UE’s campus

Behind the 20-year archaeological excavation on UE’s campus
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 7:29 PM EDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The University of Evansville is celebrating 20 years of excavating work where a housing project used to stand on the campus in the 50s. They say it’s still providing insights into the area’s past.

For archaeology students, there’s nothing quite like the experience of being able to get out and dig for artifacts. For the lucky students at the University of Evansville, they get to do so right on their own campus.

The work of archaeology is alive and well on UE’s campus, but it might not be what many people imagine.

“No fedoras, no adventuring, but it’s certainly a different kind of fun and I think it’s just as valuable,” said UE senior Jacob Overstreet.

For the past 20 years, UE has been excavating the remains of Tin City, a housing area from the 50s which was built to accommodate veterans using the GI bill to attend UE after World War II.

The area is a unique opportunity for archaeology students, as it makes UE the only university in the country with an on-campus excavation site.

The students working here say what they find sheds light on those who lived there, especially the veterans’ families.

“There’s far less of a mention of the women and children in the university record than there is when you’re looking at what we find here,” said UE junior Cara Schultz. “If you were to look more at the university record, there’s the emphasis on the veterans coming here for their education, but it neglects to mention that they also brought their families.”

Over time, the university has found a variety of objects from the site, including building materials, toys, and more.

University officials say it’s meaningful to practice excavation techniques on campus, and be able to study what they find in their archaeology lab a short walk away.

They say the artifacts give an important glimpse of what life used to be like here.

“It’s something that someone cherished at one time, most likely, and now that we’re able to find it again and bring it to light and use it for something educational, it’s a very nice feeling,” said Overstreet.

They say while they don’t perform excavations every semester, they hope the space will continue to be an asset in training new archaeologists for a long time.

During the tour, you could see where the students were digging to find artifacts related to the people that lived there.

A junior in the archaeology program leading some of the tours Saturday says it’s something everyone should learn about.

”It’s important to know the context of the area you’re in and know the history,” said UE junior, Sara Wilkens. “I mean, one it’s really cool but it also kind of gives you the context of what we’re doing here and how we came to be in this area. Plus I feel like it’s uncovering the stories and lives of the people who used to live here and honoring their memory in a way.”

Here is a look at the touring event from Saturday:

Behind the 20-year archaeological excavation on UE’s campus

For more information on the work they’re doing, visit