Map could yield clues at Tippecanoe battle site

Battle Ground, Indiana (AP) 11-09

Tippecanoe County officials are working to create a computer-assisted map of a historic battlefield that could yield clues about archaeological remnants buried there.

The Tippecanoe County Historical Association plans to use a device to measure anomalies in the earth’s magnetic field to find underground objects. It also might use ground-penetrating radar to find items if funding can be found.

Archaeologist Colby Bartlett says it would be the first professional investigation of the site. Researchers have only a 1910 map done by Purdue University to work with.

Researchers say it’s important to know what’s on the site so it can be preserved.

“It’s very difficult to protect something if you don’t know what or where it is,” Bartlett said.

Barlett said records indicate there are some “archaeologically sensitive” areas of the battlefield. Buried items could include prehistoric American Indian artifacts and artifacts from the November 1811 battle.

But the historical group doesn’t plan to do any digging, said executive director Kathy Atwell.

Atwell said researchers don’t want to disturb the bodies of soldiers who died in the Battle of Tippecanoe, considered a critical battle between settlers and Native Americans.

“The site is considered a cemetery,” she said. “That’s why we really don’t want to dig them up again. They need to be left in peace.”

The team instead will use a method called proton magnetometry, which uses a device that measures anomalies in the earth’s magnetic field to locate underground objects.

“It kind of amounts to an MRI of the ground,” said Allen Nail, Tippecanoe County parks director.

Researchers also could use ground-penetrating radar if funding is found.

The map will be used for the underground study, which Purdue University might help with. Officials hope the project provides guidance on future development of the site.

Atwell said researchers hope to have the work completed before the battle’s 200th anniversary in 2011.

“If there’s a significant archaeological find, the study can only help us in terms of protecting it,” Nail said. “We don’t want to plant trees over anything significant.”