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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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FPAN Applauds African American Burial Grounds Network Act Introduction in Congress

Handmade concrete cross, San Sebastian Cemetery, West Augustine.

The Florida Public Archaeology Network adds their gratitude and congratulations to Representatives Alma S. Adams (NC-12) and A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) for introducing the African American Burial Grounds Network Act today and urges swift passage of the bill to chronicle and preserve African-American burial grounds for future generations.
“The African American Burial Grounds Network Act will make a lasting contribution to preserve protect these unique cultural resources significant to our local, state, and national history and further protect our nation’s African American burial grounds,” said Sarah Miller, FPAN's Northeast Regional Director.
The legislation would create a voluntary national network of historic African-American burial grounds and establish a program to educate the public and provide technical assistance for community members and local organizations to research and preserve burial sites and cemeteries within the Network. The African American Burial Grounds Network Act would:
      Create a voluntary, nationwide database of historic burial grounds, with the consent of the property owner, that relate to the historic African-American experience;
      Provide technical assistance to local public, private, state and local partners to research, survey, identify, record, preserve, evaluate, and interpret these burial grounds;
      Establish educational materials for community members, local groups, and schools about African-American burial grounds; and
      Make available grants for local groups to research, survey, identify, record, and aid in the preservation of sites within the Network. 

The legislation has been endorsed by a number of national and local organizations: The National Trust for Historic Preservation, Coalition for American Heritage, Society for American Archaeology, Society for Historical Archaeology, American Anthropological Association, Association of Black Anthropologists, the Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society Inc., Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Preservation of African American Cemeteries Inc., American Cultural Resources Association, United States Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, Save Our Heritage Organization, Preservation North Carolina, Preservation Virginia, Enrichmond Foundation, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Preservation Maryland, Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology, Illinois Archaeological Survey, the Wake Forest Historical Museum, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, Virginia Humanities, the Council of Virginia Archaeologists, Black Genealogy Research Group of Oklahoma, River Road African American Museum, River Road African Burial Grounds Coalition, Shadow Lawn Memorial Gardens Maintenance & Perpetual Care Association, Preserve Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas African American Heritage Association, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

Notes from the Field: 5 Things I Learned at Pineland

Last week, I was invited down to help our Southwest office with some programming. While I was there I had the pleasure of visiting the Pineland site! This site was the second largest Calusa town - once encompassing over 100 acres - and was home to the Calusa from around 500 to 1700 AD. The Randell Research Center protects many of the features that still stand today on its 67 acres, including numerous mounds, middens and canals.

Here's 5 cool things I learned on my visit:

1.  The shell mounds contain tons of whelk shells.
Spending so much time on the northeast coast of Florida, I thought I knew what to expect from a shell mound. However, I was blown away by all of the whelk shells at Pineland! In NE FL, we have mostly oyster at our marine sites, and freshwater snails along the St. Johns River. We do find other types of shells including quahog claim, whelk and conch, razor claims and many more. But never had I seen so many whelks!

One huge pile of whelks and conches! (and lots of other important information)

2. Archaeologists uncovered evidence of hurricanes in the archaeological record.
While it will come as no surprise to anyone that hurricanes swept through Florida in the past, it is amazing to me to fine out we have solid archaeological evidence of one such occurrence. Archaeologists found evidence of flooding as well as shellfish and drowned animals far enough inland to suggest a pretty big storm surge hit the island around 1,650 years ago.

Artist's interpretation of a post-storm Pineland.

3. Smith Mound was protected from destructed by Mr. Smith. And his shotgun.
Around the turn of the century, new settlers to the area harvested the mounds at Pineland for sand and shell to use as fill material, as happened to many sites here in Northeast Florida. Shells were particularly sought after for use as roadbed construction and many sites across the state were basically destroyed because of these activities. However, Mr. Smith owned his namesake mound at the time and did not want anyone on his property hauling away the sand mound. As the story goes, he sat on the top of the mound with his rifle to keep away the work crew hired by his neighbor.

4. The Calusa moved some serious earth.
I had read about the large site and extensive canal system, but seeing it in person gives a totally different perspective! The inhabitants of Pineland built tall mounds and dug huge ponds. They completed changed the landscape of the island to their liking. And much of this infrastructure can still be seen today.

Brown's Mound, the tallest at the site, stands around 30ft today but was once much larger.

One of the mortuary mounds was encircled with a pond.

The main Pineland canal once stretched 2.5 miles, clear across Pine Island.

5. The archaeology at Pineland gives us lots of information on environmental changes and human adaptations - something to reflect upon as we face this ourselves.
Because people lived at Pineland for so long, archaeologists are able to look at a long record of environmental data paired with the actions (or often, reactions) of humans living at the time. Archaeologists have been able to understand how Pine Island itself changed through time. They have clues as to how humans dealt with these changes including retreating inland as shoreline occurred and elevating structures and cemeteries to combat flooding; both strategies are being explored today as we face similar issues.

For more information on Pineland, check out the Florida Museum's collection from Pineland, or plan your own visit to the Randall Research Center at Pineland.

Text and images by Emily Jane Murray, FPAN Staff.

Adventures in St. Augustine's Archaeology Lab

The St. Augustine Archival Society gets a tour of the city's archaeology lab
Last week we received a special treat: a tour of St. Augustine's Dr. Sue A. Middleton Archaeology Center!  Andrea White, city archaeologist,  opened her "home" to the St. Augustine Archival Society and gave us the lay of the land (or what's beneath it).
A lot happens in the city's archaeology lab.  Everyone is interested in the digs, but 75% of an archaeologist's work is done in the lab; This includes screening, cleaning, sorting, analyzing and report writing.
A St. Augustine City Archaeology volunteer explains screening and sorting

Buckets waiting their turn to be screened
Andrea was asked why the city's collection wasn't available to the public?  The St. Augustine Visitor's Center currently has a city archaeology display, but most of the city's finds are not what one would put on tour.   They do occasionally get lucky and find enough large pieces to create part of a whole.
Mission Red-Filmed Stamped Bowl (San Marco Variety), 1726-1754

Spanish olive jar (the Tupperware of its day)
But the vast majority of the lab's boxes are full of cleaned, sorted and labeled artifact pieces (sherds).  Perhaps not of museum quality, but these sherds, and understanding the context from which they came, provide archaeologists with a wealth of information.
ceramic and pottery sherds in the act of being sorted

Just a portion of St. Augustine's archaeology lab's boxed artifacts

Of course I had been to the city's archaeology lab before, but I had never poked around in it.  The lab is a candy store of not just artifacts but of maps, journals, comparative collections,  and zoo-archaeological collections (my favorite!)
Matt Armstrong making drawer discoveries

drawer of sheepshead bones for comparison
large mammal collections for comparison
Over the past 30 years, The city's archaeology lab has been housed in a couple of different locations, starting at the water treatment plant and then in the city's Government House.  But the Dr. Sue A. Middleton Archaeology Center has been the lab's home since 2011 (see FPAN blog from 2011 for more details).
Opening Day of the Dr. Sue A. Middleton Archaeology Center

Andrea White became the city's city archaeologist when Carl Halbirt retired in 2017.  According to Andrea, over the past 30 years, St. Augustine has acquired the "best Spanish Colonial collection in the United states"!  She has a plan sketched out for the next 10 years to further protect this collection and give the  public more access to it.   This plan starts with updating the physical lab space and repackaging artifacts then eventually to digitize and  establish a database to better track projects.

The lab is aiming to host an open house in March to show off its revamped space.  (Stay tuned for the date!)  I know that Andrea is excited to see what her newly purchased curation cabinets look like outside of these boxes...

Text by FPAN Staff: Robbie Boggs
Images by FPAN Staff

Conversations about Conferences: Society for Historical Archaeology 2019

Historic St. Charles during Winter Storm Gia.

Sarah: What did you expect in attending SHA?
Presentation action shots are always the most

Emma: SHA is always a chance to network and catch up with colleagues you haven't been able to see in the year. I was expecting a pretty usual SHA; attend a bunch of sessions about public archaeology and heritage at risk, catch up with friends, and present my current projects. But this year was a little different.

Due to the government shutdown my session was canceled. At this SHA I planned to present my work I did while at the Midwest Archeological Center. Before I came to the East Central, I was working in Nebraska developing a heritage tourism program for the NPS. The session I was to present in was about archeology* education in the National Parks system. Since everyone in the session was an NPS employee, they were no longer able to attend the conference. So the session was canceled. 

But, I was there ready to present! Thankfully, the SHA conference organizers allowed me to present on the last day, after the last paper, in the last session. It was perfect! There was a decent number of people stayed to listen to my talk, although I do feel that a few were there out of the guilt they would feel if they were to leave before my talk. 

 I should realize by now that SHA will always have something unexpected happen, and that I should prepare for it all. This SHA would be one of the top most interesting I have ever attended. 

Sarah: So what did you actually learn?

Emma: This question is always the hardest for me to answer, because what didn't I learn? I think the best take away was learning how other organizations are confronting climate change, incorporating public education into field work, and the increasing voice of descendent communities into interpretation. 

Over 10 inches of snow
Sarah: What was the hardest part of attending the conference?

Emma: The hardest part about attending SHA is always remembering to pack for cold weather and being upset that I do not have a clone. There are so many sessions I want to got to, but they either happen at the same time, or are at the other end of the building. 

The conference is organized so well that it makes attending something to look forward to at the beginning of the year. I just really need to remember the SHA curse when I pack  

Sarah: What will you bring back for the public for their benefit?

Emma: Besides networking with some people about some new partnerships, I think I had a few sparks of inspiration to adjust some existing outreach programs! 

I am also hopeful about bringing my NPS project to Florida National Parks or even State Parks! Stay tuned.

Monks Mound! Not used to seeing mounds this large in Florida!

Sarah: What activities did you do, with the conference or in St. Charles?

Interpretive reconstruction of a grave excavated at Cahokia 
Emma: Besides getting to go to CAHOKIA!? Honestly, the Cahokia visit was amazing. It really is an experience any archaeology needs to have once in their lives. 

We got to climb Monks Mound, the largest pre-Columbia earthen work in the world, and the largest in North America. 

Then outside of attending sessions, I got to go the Public Education and Interpretation Committee meeting, and the Past Presidents Student Reception. 

Sarah: Anything that surprised you?

Emma: Winter Storm GiaThe St. Louis Airport Fire? Joking aside, at the conference I was surprised by how many Public Archaeology sessions or papers there were. If I were to look back through to the 2015 SHA I attended in Washington DC I think there would have been half the number of papers. You can definitely see the increase in the topic and the acceptance of Public Archaeology as its own professional sub field.  

Sarah: Future plans?

Emma: Preparation for SHA 2020? I am interested in presenting my work on the Florida Tales Through Ales project. Talk about how to access target audiences that traditional public archaeology programs don't reach. It will also be the largest project undertaken since I started at the East Central office!  

*Archaeology is spelled with out the "a" for federal work! Fun facts.

Words and Images by Emma Dietrich, FPAN Staff.

Conversations about Conferences: Thames Discovery Programme's Foreshore Forum

In October FPAN staff Sarah Miller participated in the Thames Discovery Programme's Foreshore Forum to talk citizen science and public engagement along shorelines. Here are a few lessons learned from her foray into London's foreshore.

Emma:  What did you expect in attending the Foreshore Forum?

Sarah: Anything and everything! I wasn’t entirely clear what a foreshore even was, so there was nowhere to go but up. The whole trip was somewhat a surprise as Della was the invited speaker but due to a medical emergency I was asked to fill in. I did get to meet some of the Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) folks at the EAAs the month before, their papers that gave me a good overview of TDP's mission and activities. Their Foreshore survey volunteers are called FROGS…I always wanted to be a FROG!

I did think we’d hear lots from these FROGs and their experiences volunteering along the river to monitor and record changes to shoreline archaeological sites. And I did know in advance that I’d get a chance to do a little foreshore survey or foreshore watch with TDP staff and CITiZAN folks (Stephanie Ostrich, Project Officer).

Emma: What did you hope to get out of the Foreshore Forum?

Sarah: I hoped to bring back some good ideas about how to involve volunteers even more on the shoreline. We have some coastal sites where the public have helped us monitor and record changes, but not many of these sites are along rivers. I think any public archaeology program also needs the energy of new ideas to help invigorate volunteers, otherwise interest can start to lag. I came to learn TDP would be celebrating their 10th anniversary- and while FPAN is 13+ years old, our HMS Florida monitoring program is really just getting started. It’s really helpful to see how these kinds of programs operate in another country with different preservation and protection laws. The fact that site locations are not public information is one of the main hurdles we constantly have to work at to overcome- so how does outreach work in a vacuum where the locations are publicly known and promotion of the program is less limited?

Emma: What did you actually learn?

Sarah: Wowza…where to begin. Have you ever heard of a Mudlark?

Emma: A what?

Sarah: A Mudlark! I had actually heard of the term--meaning people who collect things along the Thames--but had not realized the long history and the specificity the term has to the Thames.
Clever painting of sherds found along the Thames with river threading through. Painting on the wall of The Mudlark.
Definition of a Mudlark on the wall of The Mudlark. 

I also learned the Thames is a truly unique cultural landscape feature that has changed much over time- prehistorically and historically. I really liked how the presentations ranged from historical documentation of activities along the river from art of various mediums, to the archaeology being done today for the Super Sewer...projects on a scale hard to believe that uncover wooden locks and landing features going back hundreds and thousands of years. 

Stella from MOLA shows denstiry and activities along foreshore in earlier days.

Emma: What was the hardest part of attending the Foreshore Forum?
Celebrating #tenyearsofTDP by cutting the cake. Image: Chris Haworth @Luceleaf6 via Twitter. 

Sarah: I tried to live tweet the forum, but some moments could not be captured by text or photo. Tom Dawson (SCAPEhttp://www.scapetrust.org/) showed a history of archaeology in television programming with the general thesis that for archaeologists to be in control of what’s communicated about our sites, we need to get behind (and in front) of the camera ourselves. Also- the taste of the TDP 10 Year celebration cake…the beauty can somewhat be captured, but to truly taste it one had to be thereJ 

Emma: What from the Foreshore Forum will you bring back to the public for their benefit?

Sarah: We’re already looking for where we have foreshore here. Some sensitive areas around the Castillo de San Marcos or Fort Clinch might be the same kind of environment where we could launch similar programs. We don't use the term foreshore here that I know of, but is similar to litorral (meaning land between the high and low tide marks). The Foreshore forum also demonstrated best practices in expanding audiences- from the TaDPole youth program to the very moving presentation by Theresa O'Mahony, founder of Enabled Archaeology Foundation. It takes an open mind to let others in, but isn’t that what FPAN is all about?

Josh training TaDPoles. Image: MOLA @MOLArchaeology via Twitter. 

Theresa O'Mahony, Enabled Archaeology Foundation.

Emma: What direct activities did you do?

Sarah:  A few days before the forum I had the opportunity to do a foreshore walk with Eliott, Josh, and Stephanie. We walked the segment at Rothilde, meeting at the tube stop of the same name. That was pretty cool- to realize there are staircases down to the shore all along the Thames, many with historical names and located on historic maps. Once down on the shore, we started to walk upriver. The density of artifacts—ceramics, glass, nails, wooden boat parts—was pretty awesome. I didn’t understand how packed the Thames would have been with boats and ships in historic times. For instance, Josh and Eliott shared in one day it was recorded that 2,000 boats were recorded in the river. That’s A LOT of boats! And the boats would have been broken up on the beach, or lots of other activities in the past centered along the water. The deposits were compounded by continuous dredging the dumping of the river’s sediment up on the shore. And now everything is eroding so fast, because of rising tides but also the dredging/dumping cycle no longer happens, in otherwords the foreshore is no longer maintained.

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Wooden feature recorded in place along the Thames.

During the forum I tweeted from the audience so others could benefit from my being there, and then my paper was just before closing on the forum on Sunday.

Emma: Anything that surprised you?

Sarah:  I didn't expect to learn American history as part of the walk, but there I was at the foot of the Mayflower pub where THE Mayflower set off (and returned!) from our shores. The Captain of the Mayflower is also buried in an unmarked grave in a nearby cemetery.

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UK and USA flags mark where the Mayflower launched.

I really enjoyed the feedback from my presentation. The talk centered on FPAN’s citizen science programs, from Heritage Awareness Diving Seminar (HADS), Sumberged Sites Education and Archaeological Stewardship program (SSEAS), Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT), Heritage Monitoring Scouts (HMS Florida) and submerged HMS. I’m glad I threw CRPT into the mix, because I think there’s nothing really like it over in the UK and lots of people are interested in historic cemeteries over there. They’ve never heard of D2, the biocide used most commonly to clean headstones in the states. And the issues around abandonded African American cemeteries in the American South are different than many other places in the world. It helped point out to me one of the key differences I hadn’t thought of before when it comes to doing archaeology in America. Many of us state we do archaeology to end racism. Not to say this isn’t why some British archaeologists are practicing today, but our history and charge in education, to prepare students to participate in our pluristic democracy, provides a unique context for why we do our work.

Sarah presenting at TDP Foreshore Forum. Image: Stephanie Ostrich @Steph_Ostrich via Twitter. 
Sarah presenting at Foreshore Forum. Image: Nautical Archaeology Society @NautArchSoc via Twitter. 

Emma:  Got future plans for another Foreshore Forum?

Sarah: I wish! This is likely a one-off for me, but I do plan to put lessons learned from the forum into 2019 Keeping History Above Water in St. Augustine and the 4th annual Tidally United Summit in Pensacola 2019. 

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Medieval sherd recorded along the Thames.

Final thing just for fun- raffle to guess how many sherds in the jar!
What would you guess?
For more information:

Foreshore Forum Presentations now up on YouTube!

ThamesDiscovery Programme project page  

#foreshoreforum on Twitter to see live tweets from the event.


Or pick up a copy of The River's Tale

Text and Images: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff except where noted

Notes from the Field: Erosion at Pockoy Shell Rings, SC

In December, I had the pleasure of being invited up to South Carolina by a colleague with the State's Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to work on a critically at-risk archaeological site, Pockoy Shell Ring. Archaeologists with the State have been monitoring the site for years, tracking erosion and other changes. At this point, they give the site about five more years before it has completely washed away. In order to save what information they can, SCDNR has been excavating portion of the site for the past two years.

Pockoy Shell Rings are located right on the Atlantic coastline.
SCDNR staff and volunteers excavated a trench in the middle of one of the shell rings.
Talk about beach-front property!
Selection of ceramics found on the beach in the tidal zone at the site.

Pockoy Shell Ring is located at the Botany Bay Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area on Edisto Island, SC, right along the Atlantic coast. It's a series of Late Archiac Period shell rings constructed more than 4,000 years old. The site features some of the oldest ceramics in the United States - a type archeologists have dubbed Thom's Creek, notable for its sand tempering and bold punctated designs. The site also contains animal remains, shell tools, stains from structures and other evidence of life in the past.

While the site has always been a coastal site, it was once a little further inland, even in recent times. Since SCDNR started working at the site in 2017, they estimate the maritime hammock along the coast has lost at least 50 yards. Trees that once stood now lay fallen on the beach. Storms are a constant issue at the site and cause more damage through erosion, wash-out and flooding. Erosion control and shoreline stabilization efforts would be difficult and expensive to deploy at the site - and may not be that effective, especially long-term. So SCDNR decided the best option is to retrieve data from the site while it still has integrity. This is a tactic they've deployed at other sites including the nearby Spanish Mount.

The project also included tours of the site for the public. This is a strategy we love at FPAN! Let people enjoy, explore and learn from the site while we still can.

SCDNR staff and volunteers conducted site tours during the excavations.

For more information on SCDNR's work at Pockoy Island, check out this article in SC Wildlife Magazine.

Notes from the Trenches: Week 5/5!

EnVision Heritage scanning...an image so cool we're inserting it twice!

Pardon our delay over the holidays, here's the latest update from Dr. Kathleen Deagan at the excavations at the Mission Nombre de Dios that wrapped up last month:

It’s been 2 weeks [eta 4 weeks] since our last update – we did not work during Thanksgiving week, and spent last week cleaning the foundations to prepare for laser scanning. But all the cleaning was worth it, thanks largely to Phil Gulliford and Bob Kennedy’s expertise with brushes and trowels!

Bob cleaning the trenches.

On Friday, Professor Marty Hylton, Dr. Sujin Kim and doctoral student Leisha Chen from the University of Florida EnVision Heritage program worked until dark, scanning the site with their laser scanner. It is an amazing process and is being used to document whole buildings, archaeological sites and even towns in super-precise 3-D digital imagery. They are especially committed to documenting resources that are threatened by sea level rise or other dangers. These images could theoretically be printed in extraordinary detail by a 3-D printer.

EnVision Heritage first run version.

Marty Hylton explaining the scanner.
Marty took the time to explain to the crew how this worked. The laser scanner is mounted on a tripod and revolves 360 degrees, capturing everything the scanner sees from that location. They move the scanner around the site to scan virtually any perspective – probably 20 or more scans, with each one containing at least one reference point that was in the previous rotation. The scanner records millions of points, each with x, y and z coordinates (typically an east coordinate, a north coordinate and an elevation). This creates a  “point cloud” that takes shape in 3-D – in this case, our site in 3-D.  

The image included here was produced just hours after the scanning took place as a first run to see if the point cloud captured the site. This will be manipulated with software to give us multiple perspectives on the foundations.  

Leisha doing detail photos.
Marty with laser scanner.
Scanning team!
And as if that was not amazing enough, they simultaneously recorded the site with photogrammetry – thousands of digital photos of every inch of the site, each containing a reference point. They used a traditional digital camera – some on a boom that takes 5 photos at once (no, that is not a weapon Sujin is holding) and some hand held for more detail. These can be “stitched” together by the reference points, and also creates a point cloud. When the laser point cloud and the photo point cloud are combined, we will have a 3-D model of the foundations in super hi-res photo realism.  

Cool or what?

We will be back at the site (barring rain) for a few days this week for some final documentation and preparing the site for the next phase. We have some new and somewhat puzzling finds, and are working with Architect Herschel Shepard and Prof. Tim Johnson to interpret these – and that will be in the next blog entry. 

Sujin with boom camera.
 Text and images by Kathleen Deagan.

Check out all of the updates here:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Week 4

Thanks to all of the sponsors who made this project possible!

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