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Stimulus Helps Idaho Organize Road Artifacts

BOISE, Idaho - State and local governments in the Northwest have used stimulus grants to modernize and build new roads and bridges. But an Idaho state agency has found a surprising use for part of its stimulus money.

For more than 40 years, the Idaho Transportation Department has been doing little archaeological digs at the sites of new road projects. It has found some interesting things.

Marc Münch: “Arrowheads. Other stone tools. Maybe the barrel of a small revolver.”

Marc Münch is the state’s highway archaeologist. He says the agency stored thousands of found objects at its office in Boise.

Marc Münch: “You know, when you use federal funds, you have to curate your artifacts properly and stuff was boxed and labeled.”

But the boxes in a storeroom didn’t meet federal standards for curation.

So the agency spent $150,000 to catalog the artifacts and then send them to three artifact curation locations around the state.

One place scholars can now find these objects is the University of Idaho’s anthropology lab, run by Leah Evans-Janke.

Leah Evans-Janke: “They’re finally getting some attention they deserve.”

As for the goal of stimulating the economy, the grant created at least 15 part-time temporary jobs.

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