The latest North Dakota Studies newsletter is out and I couldn't be more excited. Dr. Barbara Handy-Marchello wrote an a stunning article on paleoindian peoples of ancient North Dakota, and it's full of beautiful watercolours by Greg Harlin, who is, in my humble opinion, one of the top historical painters alive. We have originals at my museum, and I was all, "Somebody fetch me my fainting couch!" Greg is kinda' the knees of the bees.
But back to Barbara's article. The people who hunted at Beacon Island used Agate Basin lithic technology. And if you were wondering just what the real "paleo diet" from ancient ND was, Fern Swenson, Director of the Archaeology and Historic Preservation (AHP) Division at the State Historical Society is participating in a project to answer that question. Swenson is working with Kacy Hollenback and Whitney Goodwin at Southern Methodist University on a pilot study to analyze the meat of modern animals in order to match it to the residue found in pots at ancient village sites. It's gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, if you're nerdy enough to look it up. Pretty cool.
But if you're like me, that's far too contemporary. 13,000 BC? Practically 5 minutes ago. The real action is 10s and 100s of millions of years ago. Paleontologist Becky Barns and I will be doing a series of art classes, "Jurassic Art," again at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, and if you're 11-16, we hope you can join us. Classes and materials are always free! Just like the North Dakota Studies Newsletter. If you want extra copies for your classroom, page 5 has all the details for ordering.
Making Plaster Casts
STEP 1: MIX
Take a cup and mix together the water and plaster. If you're working with a large class, marking a waterline on the glass will help speed things along. Water is typically 2/3 volume of the cast.
STEP 2: POUR
When fully mixed, pour your plaster into the mold. You will see bubbles rise to the surface. That’s a good thing. Pour slowly, and gently tap the sides of your mold to release any air bubbles.
STEP 3: SET
Depending on the size of your cast, it may take from 15 minutes to 1 hour for your cast to fully set up. You will notice heat from your cast. This is because gypsum and water cause an exothermic reaction. You feel this crystallization process as heat in the form of steam.