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Saint Augustine, Northeast Florida
Going public with archaeology for outreach, assistance to local governments, and service to the citizens and state of Florida. Visit our website at: http://flpublicarchaeology.org/nerc/
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From Frightening to Facts: Mummies

Mummies have been starring in horror movies as early as the 1930s. While they have certainly lost their scare factor in the more modern era, action films like The Mummy have kept them in popular culture. Mummies are commonly associated with archaeology. Egyptology is often seen as one with archaeology and I am often asked if I have ever wanted to work in Egypt. However popular, mummies are not only found in Egypt. Mummification has been used in cultures around the world for centuries. Examples of mummies can be found on every continent of the world, whether human or animal. The process of mummification can either be intentional, in a process conducted by humans, or naturally through environmental factors. While popular culture has portrayed mummies as bandage wearing ancient kings, not every mummification technique involves wrapping up a body and mummification wasn’t always used on kings.

Humans have been mummifying remains for thousands of years. While Egypt is thought of as the birthplace of mummies, there are actually older mummies in North America. The Chinchorro mummies, found in southern Chile and northern Peru, date as early as 5050 BC. To compare, the oldest Egyptian mummy dates to around 3000 BC. Chinchorro mummies weren’t just leaders or kings, they mummified anyone from all social classes of their society. There are however no clear answers as to why the Chinchorro people chose to mummify their dead. The Chinchorro preparation of their dead varied and became more complex over time. Preparation mostly involved disassembling and reassembling the body after treating it with heat. The bodies were also covered in clay and given clay masks.
A clay mask covers this Chinchorro mummy

Though mummies are often associated with antiquity, mummification can be found in the 1900s. In 1920 one year old Rosalia Lombardo passed away in Italy, her father distraught over her death, employed an embalmer, Alfredo Salafia to preserve her body. The preservation technique worked so well, that she looked to be alive. She became known as the Sleeping Beauty of the Capuchin Catacombs, and is arguably one of the best preserved bodies of mummification. The techniques were more modern using chemicals like glycerin, formalin, and salicylic acid.
Rosalia Lombardo

Natural mummification is the process by which a body is mummified by their surrounding environment. This normally happens in extreme cold, low humidity, and environments that lack air. The Windover bog people are examples of natural mummification that can be found in Florida. The Windover people existed approximately 7,000 to 8,000 years ago in the area around Titusville. The Windover people buried their dead in a pond, why this site was chosen is still unknown. A possible theory was that without shovels, grave digging would be much easier in swampy mud than hard dry soil. The pond was rich in peat, which covered the bodies creating an anaerobic atmosphere, which helped prevent the bodies from decomposing. While the human remains found on the site aren’t the typical mummies, they are skeletal remains not bandaged remains with remnants of skin tissues, the peat preservation had some advantages. Preserved human brain tissue was able to be recovered from several skulls as well as the last meal of a female skeleton that was still in her stomach. Natural mummification still occurs today, albeit not intentional. Mount Everest contains the mummified remains of climbers who were not able to return from their climb. As of 2011 there are over 200 known climbers who have passed away ascending the mountain. Their remains are left in their place of death and have mummified over time from the extreme cold.

Skeletal Remains from the Windover Site
A climber from Mount Everest 

While mummies are viewed as an object of horror movies, real life mummies have interesting stories to tell. Archaeologists study mummies from around the world to learn about their lives and the stories they can tell us about their culture. Mummies have not always been as protected and valued as they are today, they used to be burned for fuel and used as color pigments, but we continue to learn from what they leave behind.

Written by: Megan Liebold, FPAN Staff

Traversing a Great Florida Landscape: Sebastian Inlet State Park and Sebastian River Preserve

      As a resident of Florida for about 19 years it has come to my attention within the last 3 that I have not explored much of my home. Acknowledging my own adventurous nature, and recent acquisition of a car, I have taken it upon myself to learn more about the history that surrounds me. Luckily for me, and local inhabitants of Brevard, there are two gems to visit: the Sebastian Inlet State Park and the Sebastian River Preserve. The former rests just south of Melbourne Beach and the latter further mainland in Fellsmere, Florida. Both showcase plants native to Florida’s landscape including tricky palmetto scrubs and expanses of sand hills Oh! And don’t forget the mangroves!
Sebastian Inlet State Park
         Riding up on the Sebastian Inlet Bridge I was taken aback from the splendorous view of both the Atlantic on one side, and the Indian River on the other. At low tide, approximately 5pm, you can see the river actively being sucked out of the inlet. Jetties created by the outward current of water and sediment matched with the southward current of the ocean, draws your gaze to the stark color change of the water a few yards away from shore. To think, after its temporary closure in 1924 after World War II it had to be blasted open again with dynamite in 1947. Over several decades the jetties were extended further out and the inlet deepened. For the regular visitor this vision of dry land in this very spot is near impossible. Peering down into this outlet and into the Atlantic I can’t help but this what this area would look like without this inlet in place.
        At the inlet one can pay to enter either the North or South entrance to the park. From there it is up to the visitor to partake in a slew of activities; from taking a paddle on the Indian River to be among the docile sea cows, turtles, and even alligators, or one can stroll down one of their many trails to bird-watch.
        I chose to take a short stroll down a trail and out along the shoreline to get a different perspective on the inlet. Afterwards, I took my adventure on the road to the Sebastian River Preserve. With up to 60 miles of traversable trails I was a bit overwhelmed. After a couple of hours my wandering eye found peace on the designated ‘Red Trail,’ a 14 mile trail on the southwest part of the preserve. In the hopes of seeing a bear or bobcat, I trudged on through sticky mud. After a while I decided to depart from my endeavor without a bear or bobcat sighting. However, I was graced with the presence of multiple bird species and snakes like the sandhill cranes and Eastern indigo snake.
St. Sebastian River Preserve Pinewoods

            During the 1880s this land was home to multiple homesteads until the 1930s when Joseph Marion Hernandez was commissioned to build the Hernandez-Capron trail. This road was to connect St. Augustine and Fort Capron in present-day Fort Pierce. It ended up connecting Fort Capron to Fort Brooke in Tampa, Florida.  This land has witnessed much change from logging, ranching, and the blooming and wilt of the citrus industry. Envisioning all of these years of historic usage of these lands, it is impossible to ignore the strength and perseverance of the natural landscape to return to what we see today, a truly wild and beautiful Florida. 
St. Sebastian River Preserve Trail
Text and pictures: Caitlin Sawyer

Join us on a monitoring Dash through Florida's Cemeteries!

With HMS Florida officially accepting volunteers, you might be wondering how to get involved. It's easy: join us on a Cemetery Dash!

For years, we have been offering our Cemetery Resource Protection Trainings (CRPTs) and urging people to help us get these sites listed on the Florida Master Site File. But what if the cemetery is already listed - shouldn't we still keep an eye on these sites? Of course we should! And now with HMS Florida, we have the perfect means to do so.

Check out our Cemetery Dash basics below - and don't forget to keep an eye on our HMS Florida website as well as the CRPT Alliance and EnvArch Facebook groups to learn about upcoming cemetery events and Scout opportunities. You can follow #CemeteryDash on social media to keep track of our monitoring goal, read great resources on cemeteries, and learn about sites in Northeast Florida.

The Dash has already started in South Florida - Rachael is working on the second cemetery at a CRPT in Naples.

Why: Florida Cemeteries at Risk 
Over 1000 cemeteries across the state, both inland and coastal, are currently threatened by sea level rise, storm surge and flooding, development, and more. Other coastal states like Louisiana have already seen huge impacts at historic cemeteries from recent events like these.

What: HMS Florida in Cemeteries
Monitoring historic cemeteries will help collect data about potential impacts and threats from natural and human causes. We hope to have 50 sites monitored in the Northeast Region and all 48 historic cemeteries in South Florida.

Who: Heritage Monitoring Scouts 
Anyone can be a part of the Dash! You can fill out a Scout application at our website and join us at our next Scouting event to learn how HMS Florida works.

Where:  Historic Cemeteries near you
We will host training and monitoring events throughout the state. At each event, we will provide Mission Sheets with cemeteries that need monitoring. But even if there's not a training near you, you can still monitor cemeteries in your area - contact us at hmsflorida@fpan.us for more information.

When: October 2016 through March 2017
The Cemetery Dash will kick off in October and carry on until March.

How: Training Days and Mission Sheets
Join us at an upcoming CRPT workshop or cemetery monitoring day to learn how to verify site information, assess threats and document the site with photographs. You can pick up a Mission Sheet to guide you to your next cemetery or go check in on one of your favorites.

Unless otherwise noted, words and images by Emily Jane Murray and Sarah Miller, FPAN staff.

Archaeology and Horror

Archaeology is not really something that people associate with horror. Action movies are generally the only genre Hollywood associates with archaeology. However that doesn’t mean archaeology doesn’t have its place in terror. For those of you who are fans of Halloween Horror Nights, there is a house this year that has certain archaeological overtones. 

Tomb of the Ancients is an original house this year focusing on the awakening of  “ancient ones” from their slumber. The house description online is vague so I wasn’t really going into the house expecting much. However as soon as the line turned to the front of the house, I realized what I was getting into. There was a white work truck parked among a ton of palm trees in front of a temple face that was covered in vines. My friend immediately turned to me and said, “This is like an archaeology house,” nudging me jokingly. He wasn’t wrong though. The storyline of the house featured people, who I assume to be archaeologists or some kind of tomb raiders, stumbling upon an ancient temple and stirring up ancient evil that resided inside. Despite the Mayan looking temple facade, the inside was pure Egyptian. There were Egyptian styled hieroglyphs, sarcophagus, mummies, and even some scare actors dressed as Anubis. I won’t spoil too much for you, but it was a clear conglomeration of different cultures. The house was fun, for those of you who will end up at Horror Nights this year and are debating on whether or not to give it a shot.

This isn’t the first case of the entertainment industry using the trope of unsuspecting archaeologists unearthing ancient curses. It’s a trope that has been used so much there’s actually an onion article about it

Universal has also done this before, just without mentioning actual archaeologists. In The Mummy, Evelyn an aspiring Egyptologist travels to the fictional city of Hamunaptra along with a rival group of treasure hunters. Evelyn is not an archaeologist, but a librarian and arguably a historian. However, the team goes excavating in search of an ancient book and treasure. They awaken an ancient curse and resurrect a mummy who goes on a killing spree. The Halloween horror nights house is very reminiscent of The Mummy franchise.

mummy reboot release date The Mummy Reboot Plot Details Revealed?

A lesser-known horror movie The Ruins focuses around an archaeological dig site. The movie is set around Mayan ruins and a group of tourists who are helping a man look for his brother, an archaeologist who has gone missing. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but it is implied that said missing archaeologists stumbled upon a cursed temple and has brought said curse upon themselves and their friends.

Archaeology has always had a strange position in pop culture; either we are associated with Indiana Jones and his action packed scenes of running from booby trapped temples, or with unearthing ancient evils. There doesn’t seem to be much in between. So do archaeologists spend their time uncovering ancient evil and fleeing giant boulders? Well, no, but that doesn’t mean we don’t find “malicious” artifacts. In August, archaeologists in Serbia unearthed gold curse tablets. The inscriptions were thought to be magical spells invoking the powers of good and evil.  Similarly there were 4th century BC lead curse tablets excavated from a cemetery near Athens that had inscriptions cursing business owners. A robber who stole two ballista from an Israeli dig site in the 1990s returned them claiming that they had brought him nothing but suffering since he took them. 

While we may not unearth ancient curses and resurrect mummies, archaeologists do occasionally find artifacts worthy of the silver screen. Personally, being a big fan of horror, I'd rather have people think my job involves interpreting ancient curses than the misconception that I dig up dinosaur bones for a living. 

Written by: Megan Liebold, FPAN Staff
Image credits: http://screenrant.com/mummy-movie-reboot-story-details/, http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Ruins-Blu-ray/884/, 

FPAN 3D Public Archaeology

Helping to Lead the Way in 3D Public Archaeology

Last year, several FPAN staff began to engage with a new type of technology that was making waves in the field of archaeology: 3D visualization of archaeological sites and artifacts (see here and here). Three-dimensional models of artifacts and archaeological sites have been around for a few years now, though for much of that time the hardware and software required to undertake a project was a bit cost-prohibitive, at least to us. However, as cost and 3D technology began to make a pivot towards more public use, we jumped at the opportunity to see what we could do with it. We were lucky in having colleagues, such as those at the VCU Virtual Curation Laboratory,  who had ventured into the field already and were able to give us much needed pointers. At FPAN, we immediately saw how this emerging technology could couple with our archaeology education outreach to engage the public in new and exciting ways.

Recently, we saw that the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has partnered with Google to assist in engineering a portion of the museum that will provide access to more of the museum's collections through 3D visualization. Many museums have the mass of their collections in storage, due to the fact that there is simply not enough space to display these items, or that the items are too fragile for display. This new, interactive display will allow visitors to follow their personal interests through a vast collection of artifacts that have been modeled and interpreted by museum staff. In a way, this creates a unique visitor experience for each and every person that comes to the museum. Astonishing!

But, FPAN got there first! We have been busy creating 3D models of artifacts and archaeological sites that the public is able to interact with through our Sketchfab site. There, you can see unique items up close and personal. You can even, if you are able to, download the item for 3D printing. Of course, this is just some friendly bragging; several groups preceded us and there are sure to be many who will follow us in utilizing this new technology. What is important is that the public now has ways to interact with archaeological resources from around the world in ways they have never been capable of before. Want to visit the British Museum, but can't afford an airline ticket? Have a lunch break to check out what archaeologists in Korea are working on? Want to see what a shipwreck looks like, but don't want to bother with all that pesky SCUBA diving? Take a peek here. Certainly, this new trend in interpretation and engagement is taking solid hold, and we're happy to see the Smithsonian embrace the technology for the public!
FPAN will continue in incorporating 3D technology in our future outreach and will also apply it to current curriculum. Plenty of projects are in the works, and we are currently working on incorporating 3D models to our current Project Archaeology curricula for Kingsley Plantation and Florida Lighthouses. But, stay tuned for more!

You can learn more by checking out the links above, or you can swing by the 3D Public Archaeology Working Group Facebook page where professionals from around the world share ideas, answer questions, and show what they're currently working on. No prior knowledge needed; we're happy to talk anytime!

Text and Pics: Kevin Gidusko
Models: Kevin Gidusko and Tristan Harrenstein

HMS Florida: Now accepting volunteers!

For a few months we've been working to develop a program called Heritage Monitoring Scouts (HMS Florida) to engage the public in helping us: 
  1. Verify site information
  2. Monitor sites at risk
  3. Make a difference 
This data can help guide how archaeological sites to be impacted by climate change, most notably by sea level rise, will be managed. 

How to get involved? Fill out the HMS Florida volunteer application form  or visit the HMS Florida website.  You must check the box saying you have read and will comply with the Ethics Statement and Agreement at the bottom to participate. If you'd rather send your information by email, contact HMSflorida@fpan.us

Multiple regions are conducting pilots and could use your help. In other areas projects are just in the beginning stages, please be patient, but we'll be sure to let you know when opportunities become available near you.

Need more information? Here's who, what, when, where, why, and how. And don't forget to check the FPAN website for other education and outreach opportunities year-round. 


Why - Florida Sites at Risk

Image courtesy of  Florida Master Site File.
As of 2013 the state identified 16,015 historical resources to be impacted by a 1 meter rise in sea level, numbers reaching 34,786 given a 2 meter rise scenario. Of these, 2,908 are archaeological sites (or 3,985 in the 2 meter scenario). Additionally, 630 historic cemeteries are estimated to be at risk from storm surge. More information is needed to identify and manage the threat of erosion on archaeological sites.

Who - Monitoring Scouts

The public is encouraged to apply for the HMS Florida program to help monitor archaeological sites across the state. Ideal scout candidates are environmentally friendly volunteers interested in Florida's past ready to help FPAN staff and land managers. As they rise to the level of Master Scouts, their responsibilities will grow as they work independently monitoring sites and areas selected by mentors. Some Scouts may visit the same site multiple times, others may want to visit different sites each time. 

Where – Shoreline

Previously recorded sites potentially threatened by erosion due to rising sea levels, storm surge, development, and other climate change related changes to the landscape. Ideal sites can be accessed by hiking, biking, paddling, diving or other recreational activities. 

How- HMS Mission sheets and reporting form

Scouts will be given a HMS Mission sheet generated by FPAN staff and fill out a Scout monitoring form to verify location, assess condition, and estimate threat. While a beta version of field forms are currently in use, an integrated website is in development that will integrate site information and reporting for ease of Scout use. Quarterly updates on sites visited will be shared with the Florida Division of Historical Resources as state land monitoring is needed and condition report required. An annual report of HMS Florida outcomes and results will also be submitted. 

When—May 2016 to August 2020

Phase I: May-August 2016 FPAN staff conducted summer pilot programs and hosted 1st Tidally United summit in St. Augustine.
Phase II: August 2016-January 2017 Pilot programs by Mentors continue to work with Monitoring Scouts to develop Master Scouts in approved locations. 
Phase III: Summer 2017 Master Scouts work with new Monitoring Scouts to provide in the field training and regularly submit updates of site conditions.

What—Training and Support

Initial training received by attending HMS Florida events offered across the state by Mentors, during a Tidally United: State of the Shoreline summit, or in the field with Mentor led site visits. The first Tidally United summit took place in St. Augustine August 5-6, 2016. The 2nd annual meeting is proposed to take place in June 2017 in South Florida, contact southeast@fpan.us for more information. Supporting resources for Scouts will be posted online to the HMS Florida and Tidally United pages.

Text and Images: Sarah Miller and Emily Jane Murray, FPAN staff unless otherwise noted

Better Know SAAA Speaker: Matt Armstrong

Matt Armstrong is the Digital Preservation Curator for The Government House Research Collection in St. Augustine (and a former FPAN intern!)  He's giving Tuesday night's lecture for the St. Augustine Archaeology Association.  I got a chance to ask Matt a few questions before the big night...

1. You are scheduled to talk Tuesday for SAAA at Flagler College about Archaeology on St. George Street in the 1960’s.  Why the 1960’s vs. another decade?

It was a really interesting time in St. Augustine because the the Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission had just been formed (1959) and they hit the ground running. Their work and their vision for the city helped to literally recreate the streetscape of downtown. A big checkpoint for them was the Quadricentennial Celebration in 1965, so the push to get a chunk of projects done before then made things exciting. 

2.  The Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission - I suppose their mission is somewhat self-explanatory from the title but what had this commission initially set out to accomplish?

They were a state-funded agency that was created to protect and promote the history of St. Augustine. Their goals are outlined in the enabling legislation, signed in 1959, as being "to acquire, restore, preserve, maintain, reconstruct, and operate for the use, benefit, education, recreation, enjoyment and general welfare" of the citizens and visitors to St. Augustine. Most of the interpretation of these sites focused on the Spanish colonial periods of the city's history. 
3.   How does your job as Digital Preservation Curator at the Government house, connect to Tuesday’s talk? 

The Government House Research Collection is actually the research material of the Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission - which changed it's name to the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board (HSAPB) in 1968. The HSAPB operated until 1997 and collection is a valuable resource into some of the early preservation and archaeological work in downtown St. Augustine. 

4.  What kind of items do you have in your collection? 

All sorts of cool stuff. Maps, photographs/negatives , slides, architectural drawings, archaeological maps, historical documents, research notes, archaeological reports, etc. All the material pertains to the work of the HSAPB - it helped to inform their restoration work, reconstructions of historic buildings, and how the sites were interpreted. 
5.  Is this collection open to the public?

The collection is very much open to the public!  I made a website to help people access the material in the collection:
6.  What do you personally find most interesting about archaeology on St. George Street in 1960’s? 

I am going to decline to answer this one, because I don't want to give too many of cool things away for the talk!

So Matt left us with a cliffhanger!  You will have to attend his presentation to get the answer to that question.
Come meet Matt and hear his presentation Tuesday night (Sept. 6th), 7 pm in the Flagler Room at Flagler College for the St. Augustine Archaeology Association.  This event is free and open to the public.  

Text: Robbie Boggs, FPAN Staff 
Images:  Top Photo: Brian Miller with St. Augustine Social Magazine,
All other photos:UFHSA Government House Research Collection

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