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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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Conversations about Conferences: SHA 2017 Ft. Worth

Last month both Sarah and Kevin attended the Society for Historical Archaeology's annual meeting in Ft. Worth, Texas. They had a chance to sit down this week and decompress. That means another installment of "Conversations about Conferences!"

Kevin: What did you expect in attending SHA 2017 conference?

Sarah: I expected to be very busy. This was my first meeting officially being on the board so I knew there would be lots of meetings, hopefully a chance to see some papers, and lots of running outside for a moment to experience Ft. Worth. This was also the 50th anniversary of the very first SHA, so I expected some nostalgia and lots of reflecting back to where historical archaeology was at in 1967. 

Kevin: What did you hope to get out of it?

Sarah: I was really looking forward to the PEIC (Public Education and Interpretation Committee) panel on reevaluating evaluation. On top of evaluation being a hot topic in archaeology education, many friends from different paths of my career were on that panel: my graduate internship advisor Tricia Samford (Director of the MAC Lab), my co-worker for 5 years at KAS (Kentucky Archaeological Survey) Jay Stottman, my favorite roomate at Project Archaeology meetings Teresa Moyer (NPS Urban Archaeology Corps), and of course many FPAN friends and colleagues including Barbara Clark, incoming post-doc Laura Clark, and former outreach coordinator dynamos Melissa Timo now at Exploring Joara Foundation and Mary Furlong Minkoff now with Montpelier Archaeology.

Well done organizing that Texas sized panel Kevin!

 But it's a good representation of what you hope to get out of any conference- connect with old friends, kick the topics further down the road, and enjoy who you meet in the peanut gallery. I had none other than Judy Bense sitting next to me in the audience during the panel, recently retired UWF President and Chairman of the FPAN board. And also Matt Reeves, new SHA board member this year and director of the Montpelier Archaeology programs that I have long admired.

Kevin: What did you actually learn?

Sarah: I registered to take the Anti-Racism workshop that has been offered for three years now. It was moved to Saturday morning so board members like me could attend. Many of us do what we do to end racism, so going in I wasn't sure how far the needle on my anti-racism meter would move. But the workshop wasn't about that, it was examining systemic racism and how it's built into our society, limiting access for all to health, education, homes, jobs, and tax codes. Another part of the workshop focused on themes that reoccur in the media, which was powerful given all the current events related to the Black Lives Matter movement, DAPL, Islamaphobia, and the intersection of these topics with women, Latin@, and LGTBQ issues. It was very informative and I think should be a requirement for any archaeologist, but particularly for us public archaeologists. I learned there is a large literacy gap between myself as a newcomer to the course versus those who have been teaching it for years themselves, it's critical we find common ground to move the conversation forward.

I also learned most of the work of the society is done by the committees. As a board member I was assigned to the APTC (Academic and Professional Training Committee) and the SSC (Student Sub Committee). They are having similar conversations to other committees I've served on in the past about webinars, social medial coordination, and training topics for next year. I hope newcomers to SHA, like yourself, realized joining a committee is as easy as just showing up. Like you did Kevin, and now you're Chair of PEIC! It's a great way to meet people, and there is so much work to be done it's really up to the committees how to move important topics forward in the society. If you are a student, you really must join the Student Sub Committee- I wish I had when I was a student. I didn't come from a grad school with a large cohort, so any personal contact I could make with those also seeking new historical archaeologist pen pals, really helps to make the conference more fun and meaningful.

Kevin: What was the hardest part of attending SHA?

Sarah: Just staying alive. 
I spent a lot of time before and during the conference examining strategies for attending such an epic event. It's hard to figure eating out, especially if you are traveling alone and again don't come from a large grad school cohort. I find meal planning exhausting and ordered a lot of take out so I always had food back in the room. This really helped as things were scheduled so closely from 7 am up to 10 pm. And when the rare chance to step outside presents itself, Uber and Yelp are lifesavers. It's sad when you don't make it out of the hotel, which happend to me last time SHA was in Toronto. Now I make it a priority to get out into the host city and go to at least one museum, helps with finding a balance.

Dinner at the Stockyards w Jay Stottman after the Awards Reception - Congratulations Russ Skowronek and CHAPS!

Kevin: So we attend a lot of conferences in a year - what from this SHA will you bring back to the public for their benefit?

Sarah: I'm bringing back many takeaways from the Anti-Racism workshop, the sessions I took part in, and comments from the audeince especially pertaining to marketing and working with the media during the PEIC panel. My paper on Friday was about our new Heritage Monitoring Scout program. Lucky for me, the paper after mine was a no show so there was time for people to ask questions and give me immediate feedback. I also had more meetings inbetween papers than I ever had before- lots of other archaeologist concerned about the environment and advocacy issues. There are a lot of apps and resources out there for us and for the public, which I'm excited to share.

Me presenting HMS Florida paper. Photo credit: Thanks to John Lowe @archaeocore! 

Kevin: What sessions/activities did you take part in?
Sarah: I facilitated a panel on Disaster Management on Thursday. There were not many people in the room, but those who stayed had a lot of experience and passion in the topic- was good to hear of how different people approach the topic from various points of view, like how someone based in GIS would look at the problem versus land managers or researchers. Sara Ayers-Rigsby from FPAN was on the panel, and it was exciting to see how far she's come since starting in May. Working with local governments, initiated citizen science programs, and learning from others who have been through Florida hurricanes before how to possibly be well prepared was a good moment.

Sara Ayers-Rigsby presenting on FPAN and HMS Florida in Disasters Management panel.

Friday afternoon I was chair of a general session on public archaeology. I generally submit a paper in symposiums or organize one myself, but this year with HMS Florida being so new, I wanted to just throw it into the random mix and see what reaction it got. I give a lot of credit to the program chairs, that general session was tighter and more focused than many of the symposiums I've been part of in the past. I really, really, really enjoyed hearing the broad range of papers happening: from ArchaeoBlitz in North Dakota by NPS, to contemporary advocacy against neighborhood gentrification in Oakland, to using GoPros in the field, to FPAN staff talking about their ongoing work in Middleton on the Scott site, plus too many more to mention. Oh, the community Slave Wrecks Project  on St. Croix by Southeastern Archaeological Center (NPS) folks! Some really great projects, all going so far beyond just giving the public a pamphlet or a flash in the pan effort to check a box. These archaeologists are working so closely with all these communities and being themselves so affected by the community, I can't stress enough what a fun session it was to take a pulse reading on what was happening all over the place in public archaeology only to find we're really focused on the same thing: sincere and collaborating engagement.

Then there's board activities that start Wednesday morning and don't let up till Saturday night. But it's really an honor and priveledge to be on the board, look behind the curtain of what makes this society I've been a part of so long work, and get to know others who the members have trusted with this work. Timo and I worked to prepare and read the resolutions for the Business meeting on Friday night. What an other world experience to sit down with Timo from Finland, hear about the amazing work he's doing over there, and work together on projects.
View of the app schedule for the Public Archaeology General Session.

Kevin: Got plans for next year’s conference?
Sarah: Next year SHA will be in New Orleans. Holy smokes, it's going to be a great conference! I'm excited to take part in ongoing sessions related to public engagement and climate change. I'm excited to see what new directions the committees take on. And I'll be listening for yearound opportunities for advocacy, hopefully with workshops or session related to progress made over the next year.

Enjoy this post? Check out conversations from past conferences:

SEAC 2013
SAA 2016
SEAC 2016

Text and images: Sarah Miller and Kevin Gidusko, FPAN staff except photo submitted by John Lowe credited above. 

Los Remedios: Modern Excitement over Historic Discoveries

On-going excavation at 1 King Street in St. Augustine, FL
Last week, archaeologists discovered what could be some of St. Augustine's earliest colonial burials.  Usually, City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt only has the opportunity to look below the ground if construction is pending.  But when this wine shop's hurricane-damaged floors were being replaced, David White, owner of the Fiesta Mall, generously offered to allow the City Archaeology Program to dig.
External View of 1 King Street at intersection of King and Charlotte Street
Of course Halbirt and his team of volunteers from the St. Augustine Archaeological Association jumped at the offer!  The on-going dig occurring outside of the shop's wall could now be expanded.  This was important because just on the other side of the wall, on adjacent Charlotte Street, human remains believed to be associated with Nuestra Senora de Los Remedios had been discovered.

Los Remedios sketch based on the research of Elsbeth Gordon
In 1572 (seven years after the city's founding)  Nuestra Senora de Los Remedios (Our Lady of the Remedies) was created.  This was the first parish church built in St. Augustine, arguably making it the oldest documented church in the United States.  Los Remedios was a large wooden structure with a thatch roof and a rich interior.  It was destroyed three times: 1586 during a raid by Sir Francis Drake, 1599 by a hurricane and fire, and in 1702 when English Forces burnt it to the ground - after which Nuestra Senora de la Soledad, on today's St. Geroge Street, became the parish church.  (Take a stroll South on St. George Street and check out the La Soledad marker!)
Baptista Boazio Map depicting the 1586 Drake Voyage (Library of Congress)

In the above map, Los Remedios  was located in the northeast (lower right) corner of the building cluster (but of course not for long since this image is capturing Drake's raid and the impending burning of the city).

 a closer view of the Baptista Boazio map with Los Remedios circled in red (Library of Congress)

When visiting the King Street excavation site last week, I observed two exposed burials that were mostly intact.  Based on ceramics found nearby, Halbirt estimates that the individuals were buried between 1572 and 1586.  These individuals had not seen the light of day for over four centuries.  Encountering them now was exciting and humbling.

I also observed a lot of excitement around the discovery of a posthole, a circular stain in the dirt showing where a wooden post once stood.  It's believed that this stain marks the interior of the Los Remedios Church.  If there was any doubt about the location, the posthole stain confirms that these individuals were originally buried under the church floor.  This would be in keeping with the tradition of the time.  Mission churches across Florida buried everybody (Spanish, Native Americans, and slaves) in the church floor, which was considered consecrated ground. 
West edge of Los Remedios marker on Aviles Street
In 2010, Halbirt and his team uncovered other postholes marking the west wall of Los Remedios Church  Take a stroll down Aviles Street today and you will see four round brass markers in the sidewalk denoting where the original posts were located.

Aviles Street

These brass markers can help recreate the church in your mind that once was the "heart of the new settlement" and the cross on top which was the "highest landmark, intended as a beacon of faith and a safe harbor."   You can also imagine the people over four centuries ago who lived, died, and were buried under, these streets you now walk.

For ongoing information, please check out the City of St. Augustine Website:  www.citystaug.com

Text by FPAN Staff, Robbie Boggs
Image Credits: Robbie Boggs, except where noted

HMS Florida Training Day: Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum

    The Florida Public Archaeology Network Southeast and East Central Regions unite! Last month the East Central Region of the Florida Public Archaeology Network traveled to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum to assist the Southeast Region with their Heritage Monitoring Scout training.

Beginning setup for prospective Scouts

Peter DeWitt addresses the Scouts

     The morning session consisted of an introduction of the HMS Florida program as a citizen science program. Peter DeWitt with the Bureau of Land Management continued with an overview of the affect climate change continues to have on the local natural area. Sara-Ayers Rigsby, Regional Director of the Southeast and Southwest regions of FPAN, addressed prospective Scouts regarding the need for the HMS Florida program.

Scouts look at artifacts brought by Chris Davenport

A Scout observes some artifacts brought by Chris Davenport

Caitlin Sawyer takes notes during the morning session lectures

     A practicum session followed the morning lectures. Scouts were led across the Lighthouse grounds closest to the beach line by Amanda Dixon, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum Program Coordinator, and Mallory Fenn, FPAN Southeast Outreach Coordinator. 

Kevin Gidusko talks the Scouts through the HMS form process

     Kevin Gidusko, FPAN East Central Outreach Coordinator, addressed the issue of sea level rise affecting cultural resources. Kevin also led Scouts through the registration process of creating a Scout ID, Scout missions, and how to fill out the HMS Florida form for each site visited. 
        Other featured talks like the "Laws Important to Monitoring Cultural Sites" and "Common Artifacts in Southeast Florida" were led by Sara-Ayers Rigsby and Chris Davenport. 
Amanda Dixon examines a piece of  ceramic
Sara-Ayers Rigsby addresses the Scouts during the practicum session
Sara-Ayers Rigsby introduces the HMS Florida program
You can still create your HMS Florida Scout ID and join this growing program! 

Text and pictures: Caitlin Sawyer

How to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout: Identifying Animal Bones

Archaeologists frequently come across bones in the field. Where there are people, there is usually an array of animal remains. Use of the remains varies from food waste to tools or even decorations. Classification of the remains found at sites is important as it can teach us about the population that once lived there. So how does one identify animal remains?

Some bone remains are easier to identify than others. Most modern carnivores can identify chicken bones from seeing them in cooking today. The same can be said of pig or cow ribs. Human and nonhuman mammal bones often have a similar morphology, so having a basic knowledge of your own bones can actually help you ID bones. Take for example this bone.

This bone is a femur, an easily recognizable bone that looks very similar to one you would find in a human. However this femur is obviously much bigger than what would be seen in a human. This femur belongs to a hippo. However compared with a human femur seen below, you can notice the obvious shape similarities.

Knowing what human bones look like can also help to ID nonmammal remains. For example this picture of fish vertebrae, which look some what similar to human vertebrae.

We can easily know that these remains are vertebrae just from common anatomical knowledge of our own bodies.

Other classifications can be applied to animal remains. For example, quadrupeds forelimbs and hindlimbs are roughly the same length. In bipedal humans however our legs are clearly longer than our arms. When dealing with more complete skeletons, this knowledge can be helpful in comparing different bones.
Deer Skeleton

Differences can also be an easy way to identify animal remains. Bird bones for example are very lightweight and hollow. This contrasts greatly to the thick and heavy bones of mammals. The picture below shows a cross section of both these bones for comparison.
Fish bones are delicate, like bird bones however they have some easily identifiable differences. Fish bones can have a translucent appearances to them, while bird bones are glossy, but not translucent. The picture below is a great example of the translucent look fish bones can have.

So why is the identity of animal bones important? Animal bones can tell us about the diet of a population as well as what local resources were being used. Finding fish bones shows that people were utilizing fishing technologies, while finding terrestrial animals suggests other hunting techniques. Animal bones are an important and common part of the archaeological record. Analysis of them is important for archaeologists to understand the people of the past.

Written by, FPAN staff Megan Liebold

Picture Sources: 

Spengler Island: Grandeur and Garbage

Many of Florida's archaeological sites were damaged due to Hurricane Matthew.  With the help of our Heritage Monitoring Scouts (HMS Florida), FPAN is in the process of assessing the extent of the damage.  However, sometimes we discover that Matthew has befriended us by unearthing something from the past!  So was the case when we assessed Spengler Island.
Spengler is a small island located in the San Sebastian River in St. Augustine, FL.  There are many stories that float around this small, pine covered island.  Locals swear that Spengler was once home to a sanatorium (a place to quarantine and care for the contagious), but there is no archaeological evidence that supports this belief.   No broken medicine bottles or anything associated with a hospital has ever been uncovered on the island.
Historic aerial view of Whitney Mansion prior to burning
Could the sanatorium story have come from the memories of a large home that once stood on the island and burned in the 1920's?   John F. Whitney (grandson of Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin) purchased Spengler Island in the 1870's and proceeded to build a home only the wealthy could afford.   Whitney had friends in high places:  Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and P.T. Barnam to name few.  It's known that after the president's assassination, Mary Todd Lincoln was an over-night guest at the Whitney mansion at least once.
Mary Todd Lincoln
As we approached the island by kayak we saw no sign of the former grandeur, only the evidence of more recent habitation.   Wet sleeping bags and modern day garbage were the initial finds to greet us.

After the fire and passing of many decades, nothing of the Whitney home is left above ground.   St. Johns County did an archaeological survey in 2010  where test pits revealed the footers (foundation) of the mansion.  We never would have located the house location without a former 2010 survey crew member guiding us through the thick brush (thank you Eric Giles!)

What was only revealed through excavation in 2010...

was now exposed from downed trees due to Hurricane Matthew...

Brick and coquina footers, along with pottery and glass pieces from the era, had been churned up by the hurricane.   Not a treasure from Mary Todd Lincoln's stay, but a treasure for an archaeologist!

Once again, the visit to this site reaffirmed the necessity of the HMS program and the importance of keeping an eye on our cultural heritage - for better or for worse!

Text by FPAN Staff: Robbie Boggs
Photos by: Robbie Boggs, biography.com, St. John's County

How to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout: Prehistoric Pottery Identification

Prehistoric pottery refers to fired clay objects, most notably vessels, made by the native peoples in Florida. These pottery traditions began in the St. Johns River valley around 4,500 years ago and continued through European contact even to Seminole potters today.
Cordmarked pot from ca. AD 900-1250 Jacksonville, UNF Archaeology Lab, photo by Kevin Gidusko.
How to spot this pottery when monitoring
Prehistoric pottery is coarse earthenware and can range from greys to tans and even reds and oranges. It is generally unglazed, though it can be polished to a nice shiny surface. The vast majority of the pottery found in northeast Florida will also not have any paint or coloring added to the surface. The pottery was all pit-fired at lower temperatures than European wares and the ceramics we use today. This means it will be more porous and soft.
Prehistoric pottery can be found at various prehistoric sites including shell middens, mounds and even in simple artifact scatters. Later types are also found at historic sites like missions and Spanish households.

What does Pottery tell us about the past?
Archaeologists can learn a lot from pottery. We can gain insights into cooking and cuisine when thinking about the shape, size and uses of the pottery. We can learn about art and prehistoric worldviews when examining the designs on pottery. We can trace trade routes and social interactions when studying when and where pottery is found. We can understand prehistoric technology and manufacturing when delving deeper into the construction of the pottery.

How do archaeologists learn all of that stuff?
Archaeologists use a wide array of techniques and technology to uncover this information. At the most basic level, we try to establish typologies (categories of pottery) and seriations (putting these categories along a timeline) to help us understand how pottery changes over time and space. Archaeologists use the tempering agents in the paste and the surface treatments to sort and classify individuals sherds (pieces of pottery). A temper is anything added to the clay to help with the firing process and can give the final pot specific characteristics. We'll then try to reconstruct whole vessels.

View from basic pottery analysis.
For more information on prehistoric pottery, check out these blog posts: Ceramics 101: Unglazed Coarse Earthenware (Part 1: Prehistoric), Woodland Pottery: Swift Creek, or Lab Time: Prehistoric Pottery. You can also check out a guide for prehistoric pottery on the Gulf Coast here.

To learn more about or join the HMS Florida site monitoring program, visit www.fpan.us/hmsflorida.

Words and images by Emily Jane Murray, FPAN Staff, unless otherwise noted.

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