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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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Paddling the Past on The St. John's River


Mud Creek
 "Old Florida" can be allusive in our modern day, but it is readily accessible along the St. John's River.  When traveling slowly and quietly by kayak, your imagination kicks in. It's easy to envision the prehistoric world of native peoples, the 16th and 17th century of French and Spanish explorers, the 18th century of Jon and William Bartram and the 19th century of chugging steamships.

I joined one of the monthly kayak tours provided by The St. John's County Parks and Recreation Department.  This tour departed from Trout Creek Park (it's a large river so you need to just start somewhere!)



Trout Creek Park is off of the  Bartram Scenic and Historic Highway, which runs 17 miles on the East side of St. Johns River along State Road 13, from Jacksonville South to the northwestern part of St. John's County.  There are several recreational areas and boat ramps in the area making for easy access to the river.  Check out St. John's River Alliance for more details of access to this area.

Our group varied from experienced "yackers" to first-timers.  After some initial paddling and safety instruction, our group made its way down Trout Creek:
Trout Creek
Which flows into Palmo Cove:
Trout Creek opening into Palmo Cove

 The creek and cove are full of estuaries and undeveloped shoreline:

The springs,  alcoves and creeks around Palmo Cove make it ripe for exploration, or you can cross it and  head out into the wide St. John's River:
Opening of St. John's River across Palmo Cove
According to the The St John's Riverkeeper's, The River was formed approximately 1000,000 years ago however, it did not take on its current form until about 5,000 - 7,500 years ago.  Clearly a lot of history, and prehistory, has occurred on the river during this time!    According to the Florida Mast Site File, over 1,500 archaeological sites have been identified along the 310 mile river, not counting the unreported sites.  Native peoples lived, ate, worked, and sheltered along its shores for thousands of years.  Some of the earliest pottery uncovered in North America was discovered on the St. Johns!  The sites along the river vary from prehistoric mounds, missions, forts, shipwrecks and plantations.  
Archaeology Sites along the St. John's River - (Florida Master Site File)

The St. Johns County Parks and Recreation department offers short guided trips at different points along the St. John's River. For a small fee, they'll even bring you a kayak!  It's a great way to get started in exploring, understanding and appreciating the longest and most utilized river in our state.   To find out about future St. John's County tours, contact Kelly Usina at kussia@sjcfl.us.

Or find your own means of getting on the river!  To learn the access points in your neck of the woods, check out the interactive map at the St. Johns River Alliance.  This map shows the river's put-in locations, bathrooms, points of interest, landmarks, etc.

(Photo found at cartoonngmnexpo.com)

Happy Paddling!


Text and Photos (except where noted) by FPAN Staff:   Robbie Boggs

Catching them all in NE FL

Everywhere you walk in downtown St. Augustine, people are playing Pokemon. The underlaying algorithm makes historic markers, landmarks and other sites of cultural and historical interest prime spots to find Pokemon, pick up supplies or battle it out in Gyms. There's been a lot of chatter in the museum and historic site community about the game: Is it good that it's getting people to visit these sites? Or can it be disrespectful when people are playing games while walking through memorial sites? And one group has embraced it completely with a Pokemon Archaeology twitter highlight Pokemon finds at archaeological and historic sites.

My experience in St. Augustine, and Northeast Florida, is that it's getting folks out there! I visited the Castillo de San Marcos Historic Monument on a Tuesday evening and it was busier than I've seen in a while. Apparently Pokemon love the fort's nice big lawn!

Venomoth is happy that he found his park!


We visited Kingsley Plantation and found a Pikachu enjoying the archaeology panels.




Many of the Pokestops and Gyms in St. Augustine will help folks discover archaeology signs, sites and places of interest.


 Some of the Pokestops even include information about the sites!



And if you're strolling around downtown, you can come pick up some Pokeballs and a map of cool archaeological sites to visit!


Words and photos by Emily Jane Murray, staff

Historic Cemetery Preservation: Tradition v. Vandalism

Recently I took a trip to New Orleans for my birthday. Of course while there I wanted to check out all the cemeteries in town. The main cemetery in the middle of the French Quarter, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, is no longer accessible to the public. To enter the cemetery you must go in with a tour group. This rule was instituted in an attempt to help curb vandalism to the graves. Vandalism has been a long standing problem in New Orleans cemeteries, the most recent memorable occasion was the vandalism to Marie Laveau’s grave. Someone snuck into the cemetery and painted the whole tomb neon pink. However vandalism is not all that meets the eye, some grave markings aren’t just run of the mill vandalism, some are actually from living descendants themselves. 
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
When entering into a historic cemetery with living relatives you must always consider that not all graves are abandoned. Just because the cemetery may be old and in disrepair, does not mean each individual grave is not being visited. A visit to old cemeteries in Florida can attest to this as well as New Orleans. Off the beaten path in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, there is a grave with bullet shells, candles, and X marks written on the brick of the vault. Some may glance at the grave and think it has been vandalized, the burnt candles and cards forgotten items tossed aside by tourists. However, this particular grave is visited frequently by living descendants who have the right to visit their relative as much as they please, without a tour guide. The difference between these writings left by relatives vs. vandalism mimicked by tourists? Any tour guide will tell you, the families use biodegradable mediums like dirt, brick dust, or less commonly chalk. Any rain or sometime in the elements and their markings will fade. While no markings on the old bricks will completely go without damage over time, it is much better for the grave in the long run. Tourists however use markers, lipstick, and even paint. Leaving permanent markings that will not go away without cleaning and restoration efforts. To make matters worse, tourists are just that, visitors who are leaving permanent damage to monuments they may never see again. While you don’t have to be someone’s relative to pay respects to the dead and leave flowers or flags, you should never mark on a grave. Even if it is a “tourist tradition” as in the case of Marie Laveau’s grave which was written on for years. It is a miracle the tomb is still standing today. Not only is it disrespectful but sometimes these “tourist traditions” steal from actual traditions. 
Marie Laveau's grave now (with me standing in front)
A close up of a grave with markings and a saints card

A Painted grave 
You don’t have to be in New Orleans to see a colorful variety of burial traditions. I mean colorful literally, there are many cemeteries in Florida with brightly painted graves. Pink and blue graves can be found throughout the Masonic cemetery in Palm Coast and there are at least two in San Sebastian Cemetery in St. Augustine as well. These graves however have not been vandalized, they were purposefully painted by the family. It is important to remember when volunteering to help clean a cemetery what could be vandalism or neglect vs. what is not. Shells are a common grave good in Florida, and frequently left scattered around and on the tops of above ground vaults and markers. Empty bottles and coins are also common. When volunteering it’s important to never move things if you are not sure what their purpose is. 
Beads, stones and some shells on top of a grave in Lafayette Cemetery

Whether you are visiting a historic cemetery on vacation or one in your home town, always remember to be respectful and not disturb the graves. If everyone does their part, these historic cemeteries will be around to visit for generations to come. Working with FPAN I have been lucky enough to be able to clean, monitor, and record several cemeteries around town and have found it to be a very rewarding experience. I have always been fascinated by cemeteries ever since I was a child. There is so much variation in architecture, headstones, and grave goods between cemeteries that no two are the same. It is important to preserve cemeteries, not only out of respect for those that have passed, but also as part of our cultural heritage. Cemeteries have more to teach us than meets the eye. 
Text and images by Megan Liebold, FPAN Staff

New Small UAS Rule Part 107: Quick Info and Links

Drones Are Here To Stay



The FAA recently updated rules on the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in the U.S. airspace. This is a definite recognition of the magnitude of drone use in the U.S. by professionals as well as non-professionals and also helps to clear up some of the rules that have thus far been in place, rules that some thought were far too stringent in some cases. You can read more about the past attempts by the FAA to manage drones in the U.S. airspace and read past blog posts we've added about the topic here, here, here, and here

FAA airspace system


The New Small UAS Rule (part 107) clears up how drones may be utilized by individuals. For the most part there are no gigantic changes (no, the government ain't comin' fer yer drones) except that stipulations are now better laid out for professional drone use. The weight limits are still in place, rules allowing fun flying haven't really changed, and you still need to register your drone. Drone operators can now apply for a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate, which you might think of as a driver's license for drones. Makes sense, right? Those beleaguered souls at the FAA have had a rough time of managing this quick introduction of thousands upon thousands of aircraft into our shared airspace. We think they've done a great job of stepping up to the task. Remember, the FAA works to ensure 100% safety for all. Think about what that means; all air travel, the nation's airspace, all airplanes (and now drones) big and small, are expected to operate safely 100% of the time. And they hit that goal day in and day out. 99% is just not good enough. The old trope holds true: If 99% were good enough then four plane landings daily at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago will be unsafe, etc. etc.

FAA part 107 updates, a breakdown


You can read more about getting started with the new rules HERE. We all have plenty of time to implement them as they go into effect on August 29th, 2016. For those of us using drones for outreach, education, and research it's imperative that we lead the way in staying abreast of new information while demonstrating solid safety practices. Have fun and we'll see you in the skies!



Text: Kevin Gidusko
Photo credit, in order:
1. https://skyward.io/part-107-resources/
2. http://www.cfinotebook.net/notebook/national-airspace-system/national-airspace-system
3. https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_Fly_with_Me_(Frank_Sinatra_album)

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Archaeology Crafts, Activities and Snacks for Summer Vacation!

Archaeology  Crafts, Activities, and Snacks for Summer Vacation!


Can you believe it’s already June? Summer may have only just arrived, but it’s certainly already in full swing! If you have been searching for fun, educational (and even some yummy) activities for your kids to enjoy during their summer vacation – look no further! We’ve poured over the web and have found a handful of engaging archaeology-related activities and crafts that you can do at home with your young scientists-to-be.  

Indoor Activities

"Lego Stratigraphy"



Legos are so much fun! 
If your kids are crazy about Legos, why not try this awesome building activity? Originally created to teach kids about geology, this activity can easily be adapted to explore the concept of stratigraphy and archaeological excavations. Just add archaeology-related details you can learn about in the image and website below:  

A great illustration for explaining stratigraphy and relative dating in archaeology

This is a great image to use as a resource as your kiddos get to work building up some archaeological Lego-layers; click on the link for more information about stratigraphy and how archaeologists use stratigraphy to help relatively date artifacts. 

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“Dig it Up” Home-made Archaeology Game


This is a fun craft and activity!

Here’s a great home-made archaeology game that was designed for a younger audience (suggested ages 3-4). Kids “excavate” cards from a “grid” and try to find matches. The game was designed to teach kids: the following concepts: “Science is done by many people at once, who help each other, Science is a continuing process, and Science is done one small step at a time.” (source

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“The Great Garbage Mystery”


Did you know that archaeologists love garbage? It’s true! You can learn a lot about a culture by studying the things they use and throw away. This activity can easily be adapted to have kids make inferences about a “mystery culture” that lives right in your own home! 
Archaeologists study a midden (ancient trash) in Jacksonville. 
Here's a great article about archaeologists studying pre-historic Native American "trash" here in Florida to get the conversation rolling: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2016-06-03/story/digging-through-ancient-trash-looking-clues

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"Mini Archaeological Dig" 



A home-school teacher/blogger/mom came up with this excellent indoor/outdoor archaeology activity for her kids! This particular activity has everything from setting up the grid to recording detailed notes about the excavation. This activity gets an A++ for fun and learning! 

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"Dirt Detective"



Sometimes a great website can be all you need to entertain (and educate) your kids for hours. This particular website has some really great interactive games that teach kids the fundamentals of archaeology and how archaeologists excavate units. 

Archaeology Snacks



Okay, okay... so archaeologists don’t technically specialize in fossils, but we can certainly appreciate this great paleontology cookie idea! 

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"Oreo Dirt Cups"



Here’s a geology-turned-archaeology project that is both fun and easy! Layered pudding and cookie crumbs in clear plastic cups provide the perfect opportunity to tell your kids all about the wonders of stratigraphy and archaeological excavation!

Ideas to adapt for archaeology: swap the gummy worms for 2 or 3 different types of smaller candies (M&Ms; gummy bears; mini-marshmallows…etc). Place a different type of candy in each layer and have kids tell you which is “older” using the Law of Superposition!

Outdoor Activities


“A is for Archaeological Dig” 

Source: http://www.eagered.com/a/a-is-for-archaeological-dig

Here's another great excavation activity that is loaded with great information. This website provides step-by-step instructions for how to introduce archaeology to your kids, how to set up a test unit, how to excavate, and how to record your findings. The author set up this activity to span over the course of several days - this one is sure to be a hit with your young archaeologists! 

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"DIY: Potsherds for an Archaeological Dig"


If your archaeologist-in-training is also an artist, why not inspire them to draw upon all of their talents (no pun intended) ? In this activity, kids draw on small gardening pots, break them, and bury them for a mock-excavation. Be sure to pick up a notebook and to talk about the importance of recording their finds. Bonus points for having them interpret the art and pottery to learn something about their imaginary culture! 

Here are some additional resources that could help to make this activity a success:

 Lesson Plan/Parent Resource for teaching about Archaeological Digs (AIA):

Recording Sheets from the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA):

Or you can work this activity into the "A is for Archaeology" and "The Great Garbage Mystery" activities above. 


Thanks for stopping by!


We hope you are having a GREAT summer break with your kids so far. Hopefully these activities will be inspiring for a few afternoons of archaeology fun! 




What If You Encounter Artifacts At The Beach?

Front of Beach Artifact Postcard
Summer is here!  And you know what that means..... It's time to eat blueberries, time for kids to be out of school, time to go swimming, and time to receive your annual beach artifact reminder!

As the summer storms of weather and people hit our Florida beaches, buried artifacts may become revealed.   Our "WHAT IF YOU ENCOUNTER ARTIFACTS AT THE BEACH?" postcard lists 3 steps you should take if  an artifact is found on the beach (see above).  The back of the card explains what archaeology is and why it's important to leave artifacts in their original context (see below)


Back of Beach Artifact Postcard

For more information look at:  http://dos.myflorida.com/historical/archaeology/ 

Thank you for helping to preserve your past!


 Text and photos by FPAN Staff, Robbie Boggs

St. Augustine Lighthouse: Boat Launch & Wrecked Exhibit


May 5th was a big night for the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. A few weeks ago, the Lighthouse Park hosted the boat launch of the 1790s recreation of a British Yawl. Named “Heart of Oak," the Yawl was constructed by the Heritage Boatworks volunteers and was sent out for its inaugural voyage on the docks across from the lighthouse. 


Staff members and visitors gathered to watch the boat receive a traditional blessing with wine and salt. The crowd was invited to throw salt onto the boat before it was lowered into the water and sent off on its first journey captained by a team of rowers.
After the Yawl boat was launched on her maiden voyage, the Lighthouse began its grand opening for its new exhibit, Wrecked! 


Staff from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, and the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) have been working hard for years to bring artifacts from a shipwreck to the public eye. The shipwreck dates to the era of the American Revolution. The boat contained British loyalists who were fleeing Charleston and wrecked their ship on a sandbar off our coast.
Christopher McCarron dressed for the occasion
They tried the best they could to salvage the ship, but in the end they had to abandon ship. The new exhibit can be seen in the Keeper’s house, which has been completely redesigned to accompany the new exhibit. Artifacts include cauldrons, a gold coin, buttons, and a four pounder cannon. Staff have been working on restoration of these artifacts for years. Including the time when I first visited the lighthouse in 2013, and it brought up a bit of nostalgia seeing them on display for the first time. A large amount of people showed up in support of the new exhibit and I was glad I could be a part of it. Wrecked is now open to the public and is great for all ages, so go to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and check it out!
Text and images by Megan Liebold, FPAN Staff.

FAS 2016 Poster Presentation, East Central Region

In Case You Missed It!


We just got back from the 68th Annual Florida Anthropological Society Meeting in Jupiter, Florida. It was a great time, great to catch up on all the amazing research happening around the state, and great to share some of what we've been working on as well! The East Central Region submitted a research poster for the conference covering the use of aerial and terrestrial photogrammetry in cultural resource documentation. You can check it out below.

While this research used historic cemeteries as the type of resource to be documented, there is an increasing awareness of the applicability of photogrammetry and other 3D modeling techniques to archaeological research. We will be talking about this in future blogs, but in the meantime you can join the conversation at a facebook page those of us working in this medium have created: 3D Public Archaeology Working Group.


Text and Images: Kevin Gidusko

Conversations About Conferences: SAA 2016


We recently attended the Society for American Archaeology in April. It was luckily right in our backyard at Disney World! Sarah and Emily Jane sat down to talk about Emily Jane's first experience at this conference...

SM: What did you expect in attending SAA 2016 conference?

EJM: This was my first SAA - and from what everyone has told me, I expected to be overwhelmed by the size of the conference. The listing of papers and session was at least inch thick without abstracts! I expected it to be packed with so many archaeologists that I wouldn't know anyone. I also expected to be overwhelmed with papers and session that were out of my wheel-shed - things that wouldn't quite help me serve the public in Florida.

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

EJM: I've participated in local, state and regional archaeology organizations for several years. I wanted to see what the community was like at the national level. What conversations are happening? What are some of the big concerns we're trying to deal with? And how does my little piece of the world fit into this?

SM: What did you actually learn?

EJM: Our field is actually a lot smaller than I realized, and we're all working towards similar things - especially when it comes to public archaeology. It was nice to hear from folks across the country (and the world!) to see what worked for them and what they're still trying to figure out. I heard a lot about issues with bad legislation, problems with getting wider audiences involved and examples of projects that are trying to deal with climate change and sea level rise. All of these are issues we face at FPAN quite often. Even if no one in the room had an answer, it was still nice to have some solidarity in our work.

SM: What was the hardest part of attending SAA?

EJM: This might sound a little bit goofy, but living in a hotel for so long! I was there from Tuesday to Sunday. Eating out adds up, being at sessions and meetings wears on you, and it's hard to find a little space for yourself in all of that. I ended up packing a bunch of snacks and hiding out in my room over lunch - which helped with all three!

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

Panel on advocacy and engaging citizens politically organized by two of FPAN's board members.
EJM: I was really inspired by some of the advocacy issues I heard - from engaging voters to handling climate change issues. One of the biggest things I realized when it comes to climate change is that it has so many impacts. We've been trying to talk to people about sea level rise, but really that's just one small part of what could happen. I also met a lot of people that I think will help us bring even more great resources and programs to the people in Florida.

SM: What sessions/activities did you take part in?

In the big scary room presenting my paper!
EJM: I attended the Project Archaeology meeting and a panel on advocacy in archaeology as well as sessions on Florida archaeology, public archaeology and climate change. I tried to tweet some overarching points the various presenters made on @FPANLive - you can check out some of the twitter chatter by using #SAA2016 as well. On Friday afternoon, I presented a paper with Dr. Keith Ashley at UNF on work I've helped with at the Mill Cove Complex in Jacksonville. (Check out my blog post on the analysis of pottery from the project.) I also spent some time in the book room talking about FPAN and Project Archaeology. And I sat in on a meeting with a video game company that FPAN is looking to partner with. And... I visited the Indiana Jones bar at Downtown Disney. Busy week!
SM: Anything that surprised you?

EJM: I ran into far more people that I knew than I expected to! And I even found connections between some of my far-flung archaeology friends. I had several six-degrees-of-Emily-Jane moments.

SM: Got plans for next year’s conference?

EJM: We'll see. It's in Vancouver so it's a bit tough on logistics. I might stick with my Florida and Southeast conferences for a few years, though we do have some exciting programming we're starting in August (Stay tuned for the big announcement!). It'll be great to share that with my colleagues at the national level once we have some good data and examples of that!

Words and images by Emily Jane Murray and Sarah Miller, FPAN Staff.

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