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New archaeological curation center now at Valleybrook

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JOHNSON CITY (September 12, 2014) – A large collection of artifacts discovered during various Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) federal highway projects is now part of a special collection at the ETSU/Eastman Valleybrook Campus.

The ETSU Valleybrook Archaeological Education and Curation Center was made possible through a competitive grant by TDOT and is now open to students and faculty at East Tennessee State University as well as visiting scholars.  The 2,500-square-foot-center contains thousands of items, such as tools, pottery, ceramics and metals, including mostly artifacts dating back to prehistoric times.

“This is a tremendously rich resource for students and researchers,” said Dr. Jay Franklin, an archaeologist and associate professor at ETSU.  “Many of these artifacts had been in storage for years, and only contract reports have been completed in most cases. Through this curation process, our students in ETSU’s minor degree program in archaeology have bagged and boxed most of the collections to bring them up to federal curation standards. They have done a fantastic job.”

Franklin added that the archaeology minor program at ETSU has a new course in cultural resource management, and that 85-90 percent of employment in the archaeology field within the United States is in the area of resource management.  “The center will provide our students with a learning environment that will give them competitiveness in the job market,” he said.

Funding for the curation center was made possible through two grants from TDOT.

Most of the artifacts were discovered during local and regional TDOT projects in Unicoi and Carter counties.  Large collections were also recovered in Claiborne and Blount counties.

In 2010, Eastman Chemical Company donated 144 acres of its Valleybrook property to the ETSU Foundation, and that property was leased to ETSU for research and educational purposes.  The donation includes a 72,000-square-foot research and office complex and a 30,000-square-foot warehouse and storage facility. The property is located near Eastern Star Road.

In conjunction with the collection and labs at Valleybrook, the site also includes the Stanley A. Ahler Archaeology Library which houses numerous archaeology volumes, contract reports and journals.

To make arrangements to view the archaeological collection, contact Franklin at 423-439-6653 or .  For more information, visit http://faculty.etsu.edu/franklij/valleybrook/valleybrook.htm.

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