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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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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.

Connecting with the Public: The Central Florida Anthropological Society

The Central FloridaAnthropological Society (CFAS) became an established chapter of the Florida Anthropological Society in 1963. The mission is to support the preservation of Florida historic and prehistoric heritage1. CFAS also encourages public education of Florida archaeology and history. A key method of connecting with the public on anthropology topics is the monthly lecture series.

            The monthly lecture series is a way CFAS makes research in archaeology, and related fields, accessible to the public. These lectures explore all facets of the four main fields of anthropology: archaeology, linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, and biological anthropology. 

This past week the FPAN East Central region traveled to Orlando for the last lecture of the year. CFAS members and students joined in a discussion on 3D visualization and printing with Kevin Gidusko, Outreach Coordinator of the East Central region. Kevin spoke about technical applications of 3D visualization and printing in archaeological research, historical preservation, and education. 3D models of artifacts and animal bones were passed around throughout the audience. These models help preserve real artifacts and sites from degradation over years of handling by researchers. 

Kevin speaks to the audience.
Kevin passes around 3D models for the audience to handle.
Kevin answers a question from an audience member.
                Afterwards, CFAS members and students grouped around Kevin to ask questions and learn about the 3D models of archaeological sites documented on Sketchfab. The rest of the night was filled with friendly discussion and sharing of potluck dishes.

Kevin engages with students and CFAS members after the talk.

         Stay updated with upcoming lectures with CFAS here and follow their Facebook page! Become a member by applying online

Text and pictures: Caitlin Sawyer 


Outreach Field Notes: Mandarin Winter Celebration

This year FPAN participated in the Mandarin Museum's 17th Annual Winter Celebration. We brought our Maple Leaf activity to show guests how mapping artifacts works when excavating a shipwreck. The Maple Leaf  was originally a passenger and freight vessel that was being used as Union transport during the civil war. Early morning on April 1, 1864, the ship was struck by a confederate torpedo and sunk in the St. John's River. In 1992, archaeological excavations began on the wreck. The Maple Leaf divers were also there for the event, including Dr. Keith Holland. Dr. Holland will be talking at the next St. Augustine Archaeological Association meeting on January 3, 2017 at 7 PM in Kenan 300 room in Flagler College.
Kids map out artifacts from the Maple Leaf Wreck

Mr. and Mrs. Claus stopped by our exhibit!

Dr. Holland discussing the Maple Leaf with the kids

For more information about the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society, check out their website
For more information about the St. Augustine Archaeological Association meeting and talk click here.

Written by, FPAN Staff Megan Liebold 

Flora and Fauna: Plant Usage of Early Floridians

            Archaeologists can answer many questions from artifacts (objects made by humans) and ecofacts (organic material with archaeological significance) left behind by people. Answers regarding past people’s lifestyles can be investigated from this material evidence and historical documentation. One aspect of lifestyle that archaeologists study is plant usage and one great, local place to learn more about this process is the Windover Site.
            There are certain steps archaeologists take when investigating plant usage. Collection is a key step in this process. Plant material collected from archaeological sites can include but is not limited to seeds and carbonized pollen samples found in the soil. All of these items are brought into the lab when they are well preserved in certain circumstances at an archaeological site.  The Early Archaic site of Windover near Titusville, Florida presents a special case of high quality preservation of organic material. For the purposes of this discussion we are focusing on what would be known as the archaeobotanical evidence at this site.
           After collection of material evidence the next step in the process is identification. Archaeobotanical material at the Windover site comprised mostly of seeds of fleshy fruit. Some of the fruits identified from the burial contexts were prickly pear cactus and the elderberry fruit. Aside from consuming the fruit of the prickly pear cactus the roots were also boiled and used on sores4. The elderberry fruit was also eaten and used for dyeing clothes4. Interpreting how frequently each food was eaten is difficult with just a seed count from the abdominal contents. Many fruits identified in the preserved stomach contents could have been consumed at one time. Archaeologists cross reference with other archaeological sites and historical documents (when applicable) to understand the way a plant was used. This is also done to interpret the frequency a plant was used. 
            At least 13 edible plants were identified in the context of human burials at Windover1. Among the plants identified were hackberry, black gum, and cabbage palm. These three were only found in the context of the human burials1.  Nightshade was also among the identified plants at the Windover site. Historically, its leaves have been boiled and eaten5. The ripe fruit of nightshade has also  been consumed in the past. Table 4 shows other plants and some of their uses from investigations at the Windover site. 
          Like the sabal palmetto, the cabbage palm from the saw palmetto was also consumed by early Floridians like the Ais Native Americans once located on Jupiter Island. Leaves of both palmettos were weaved to make basketry. The ripened fruit of the saw palmetto was also consumed by early Floridians in limited quantities, with no more than 5 being eaten at one time3. Historical documentation from explorer Johnathon Dickinson and quakers of the 1769 shipwreck on Jupiter Island record encounters with the fruit and Ais Native Americans. The fruit was described as tasting like “rotten cheese steeped in tobacco juice3.” It is thought from these same historical documents that the saw palmetto fruit was also used for medicinal purposes concerning ailments of the stomach.
            Plants had more than one use to early Floridians. Early Floridians used hundreds of Florida native species for subsistence and medicinal uses, or both! Establishing the specific uses of plants in the archaeological record is difficult. So, material evidence is often coupled with historical documentation when possible. Plants discussed above are not limited to this site or group of people. It is important to note that the type and quantity of plants used for consumption or medicinal purposes varied by region.    

1. Tuross, N., Fogel, M. L., & Doran, G. H. (1994, April). Subsistence in the Florida Archaic: The Stable Isotope       and Archaeobotanical Evidence from the Windover Site. American Antiquity, 59(2), 288-303.
3.Deane, Green. "Saw Palmetto Saga." Eat The Weeds and Other Things, Too. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

Text: Caitlin Sawyer


NCSS 2016 Conference and the Archaeological Education Clearinghouse

2016 National Council for the Social Studies Conference

Washington D.C.

The AEC at NCSS 2016

Have you hugged a social studies teacher lately? You should! They're doing an amazing job of teaching the nation's students about the importance of history, the social sciences, and civics. Go ahead, go hug one. We'll wait.

Make sure they're cool with it first.

We just returned from the 2016 NCSS annual conference held, this year, in Washington D.C. The conference hosts thousands upon thousands of our nation's social studies teachers, bringing them together for several days of exhibits, talks, and workshops all focusing on how to better engage and educate their students. We were in attendance as part of the Archaeology Education Clearinghouse (AEC)-a joint effort by the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) , and the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA)-to provide teachers with outreach material and curriculum developed by our organizations so that they can more easily bring archaeology education into their classrooms.

Plenty of exhibitors were on hand for the event.

The AEC is comprised of the AIA, SHA, and SAA

The AEC is just a few years old, but right from the start we recognized what an excellent opportunity it was for all of us to engage social studies teachers at one of their biggest conferences. The NCSS has as its guiding framework for programming the following themes:

  • Culture
  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Individual Development and Identity
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
  • Power, Authority, and Governance
  • Production, Distribution, and Consumption
  • Science, Technology, and Society
  • Global Connections
  • Civic Ideals and Practices
Do you see archaeology in there? We see it in every single theme! We asked every teacher who stopped by the booth if they taught about archaeology in the classroom. Many answered that they didn't without realizing that much of the material they regularly cover deals directly with archaeology/anthropology. Much of the curricula developed by the SHA, SAA, and AIA touch on these themes in one way or another and our work at the conference was to highlight these connections for the educators.

3D models and 3D printed objects were a big hit with teachers

Some big takeaways from our conference conversations were that teachers need packaged material that they can "plug and play." They also are being tasked with incorporating more technology into their classrooms; most teachers we spoke to had 3D printers in their schools, for example, and were being asked to find a way to get students using them. Finally, teachers are always trying to find novel ways to bridge past events with present events. That was certainly big topic as we spoke to teachers in our nation's capitol. 

Maureen Malloy (SAA) and Bernard Means (VCU) setting up shop

The AEC held a brief workshop introducing teachers to our educational materials

The AEC will continue to collect and disseminate material for educators. The best part? It's free! The even better part? Teachers can contact us with any questions they have about educational material. We're doing everything we can to assist those working on the front lines to educate tomorrow's leaders, voters, legislators, and public. Do you know an educator who needs classroom curricula for social studies? Point them on over to the Archaeology Education Clearinghouse and let them know we're here to support their hard work! And, give them a hug from us.

Text: Kevin Gidusko
All by Kevin Gidusko except,
Gif: http://s88.photobucket.com/user/xrisingxxsunx/media/GIFS%204/unwanted-avoidinghugs.gif.html

How to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout: Part 2 - How to fill out the form

How to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout Series
Part 2: How to fill out the form

If you are signed up and read up on why to monitor, you're ready now to fill out the form.

The HMS Reporting Form can be found at this link. You can also add it to your home screen on your mobile device and bring it up before you go into the field. Be sure to submit it when you have decent cell service or just wait until you return to wi-fi area.

Step by step process is described below and example from our recording at Shell Bluff Landing is provided. Screen caps from the form as it was filled in is provided below each step.

Heritage Monitoring Scout (HMS Florida) online reporting form.

Step 1: Fill in your Scout ID

Once you've filled out the Scout application you can choose your own Scout ID (use this link) to enter data into the HMS Florida system. It's fine to use your name in this blank if you forgot your Scout ID or still need to do that step at a later time. Best to turn in the form as soon as possible after, or even during, your visit to the site.

Here HMS Florida scouts SM8LOL, EMJ8BRU, and BOGGS8 have arrived on site and are redy to record!

Step 2: Fill in site name, number, time and date

If you are visiting a cemetery, fill in the name of the site. If you received a Mission sheet, the name of the site and the Florida Mater Site File (FMSF) official site number will be at the top of the form. The FMSF number is used to track all data related to archaeological sites in the state. Contact us if you are not sure of the site number, we can always fill it in on the back end of the recording. Do note the date and time of your monitoring visit. If you visit the site several times, that is excellent work, just make sure you are filling out a monitoring form each and every time you go even if there is no change noted at the site between visits.

Step 3: Verify Site Location

This is the most important step of the whole process. If we don't know where for sure a site is, how can we possibly track or help land managers protect the site?

Were you able to locate the site with map or coordinates given? Using the coordinates from our Mission sheet, to find Shell Bluff Landing we used a geocaching app GCTools to guide us to the site (although it's a well marked trail) and verify the site location. Note: while most of the post focuses on the shoreline, the site is actually quite large and the coordinates led us to the center of the site.

And was this your first visit or a follow up from a previous time you've been to the site?

Step 4: Report Site Condition

Select from the three options the site condition that best describes your site. These descriptions are based on the state's definition of site conditions for state owned lands. Consider the overall site- one are may be more threatened that the rest of the site, but make a general assessment of how the site appeared to you that day.

Here GTM NERR Manager Mike Shirley and staff member Joe Burgess let us join them in assessing damage from Matthew and looking at overall site condition. While this part of the site is undergoing rapid erosion, other upland parts of the site are stable. Balancing these two extremes to made a determination, we went with Fair and the GTM NERR staff agreed.

Step 5: Record Threats

Select from list of threats provided based on your observations that day. HMS Florida is a public engagement program intended to help track heritage at risk, therefore impacts from climate change are listed at the top. In addition to what you observe that day, it's also fair to look for previous successful or failing stabilization strategies, such as rip-rap or fencing. They may give you clues as to threats occurring at the site over time.

This shot below captures multiple threats and several failed strategies to stabilize the shore at Shell Bluff Landing. By observing the overall site, we marked threats: active erosion, storm surge, wind, flooding, wave action, and vegetation growth. The rip-rap and mesh shows these threats have existed for a long time and continue to impact the site.

Step 6: Select Priority

Choose from high, medium, or low. What we're trying to get at with this question is how soon should someone return to the site. In general sites should be visited once a year at a medium threat level. Sites in immediate danger or that may change given a time-specific threat, mark high. Low priority is not often used, more in the case of sites on private land that are difficult to arrange a visit or is in poor condition and not likely to improve. There is room to explain your answer, when in doubt select medium.

Example of High priority: It's rare we'd visit the same site twice in one month, but such was the case when monitoring needs for Shell Bluff Landing. Most sites will need a visit after a major storm like Hurricane Matthew, but the shoreline is eroding almost as fast from regular wave action.

Step 7: Record Artifacts

Artifacts--things made and used by people--are often visible on the ground surface or eroding areas. Please take a photo and submit to HMSflorida@fpan.us and LEAVE ARTIFACTS IN PLACE. Removing artifacts from many kinds of properties in Florida requires a permit and adhering to ethical processing/conservation in perpetuity. Our goal is to record site conditions on that day, not to recover objects. Future blog posts and resources will be provided to help Scouts identify artifacts. When in doubt take a picture and send to your HMS Mentor or to the HMS Florida administator.

Step 8: Make a Recommendation

This narrative field lets your write in anything not yet captured on the form and make your ultimate recommendation. Try and tie your recommendations to observations you made in the field. Feel free to add as much detail of your site visit as you'd like in this space, anything you'd want the next person to visit the site to know.

Step 9: Submit

Well done you! Remember to submit any pictures to hmsflorida@fpan.us. It will show up immediately in our database. If you have made any errors or want to view the information after your visit, while we are in the beta phase, please email and we can send you whatever information you need.

If you have not yet registered to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout, the application form can be found at www.fpan.us/HMSFlorida. We also encourage you to join the conversation of heritage at risk on the #EnvArch Facebook group. Check back as add resources and instructions to this series in the coming weeks.

How to be a Heritage Monitoring Scout Series #HMSflorida

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

Many thanks again to the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuary Research Reserve staff and volunteers who helped monitor Shell Bluff Landing last month but also every other month. 

America's REAL First Thanksgiving

Cover of Robyn Gioia's book "America's REAL First Thanksgiving"

The above illustration depicts America's REAL First Thanksgiving.  Please note: not one pilgrim is to be found in that picture!  The more typical holiday image conjured in one's mind usually looks something more like this....

If you did not grow up in Florida, you most likely didn't learn that St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States.  And you definitely didn't learn about it's first Thanksgiving!

On September 8, 1565 Spanish Admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles ceremoniously landed on the shore of present day St. Augustine, FL.  In 1565, it was the village of Seloy in which Menendez set foot, one of about thirty Timucuan villages located throughout Northeast Florida.  Menendez and his men undoubtedly were full of tremendous gratitude for their safe arrival to the new land (which of course was immediately claimed for Spain!)   A Mass of Thanksgiving was then followed by a feast for the Spanish with the Timucua as invited guests. The Spanish provided the feast, but it is very possible that the Timucua contributed some of their own native fares (to name a few: deer, corn, squash, shellfish, mullet, shark, and gopher tortoise).

America's First Mass
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine proceeds the Pilgrim's landing on Plymouth Rock by 56 years!
So, why did I wear a Pilgrim's Hat in my 4th grade Thanksgiving class play and not a Spanish conquistador helmet?

Well, history is written by the victors.  England eventually became the dominant culture in the United States so it is from their viewpoint that much of our history is told.
Gopher Tortoise: Good food for the Timucua, but not good for you

We now enjoy our English Thanksgiving traditions of turkey and pumpkin pie.  But perhaps this holiday you can surprise your guests with a dinner from America's REAL first Thanksgiving: Spanish stew, hardtack and shark (disclaimer: we do not recommend serving the Timucuan dish of gopher tortoise; That is now illegal and you will go to jail!)

To learn more about Robin Gioia, her books, and teacher resources, visit Robin's websiteAmerica's REAL First Thanksgiving can be purchased through the Jacksonville Historical Society  or on Amazon.

Whatever tradition you chose to follow, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Text:  Robbie Boggs, FPAN Staff
Images (in order of appearance): illustration by Robert Deaton, picture located on colonialsense.com, illustration by Robert Deaton, photo located on pinterest, photo located on UPI.com

Conversations about Conferences: SEAC 2016

The 73rd annual meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference took place Oct 26-29 in Athens, GA. I had the great privilege to attend and present a paper on our St. Augustine Archaeology Pub Crawls. When I got back, I talked with Megan about the experience.

- - - -

Megan: What did you expect in attending SEAC 2016?

Emily Jane: I expected to hear some great research, catch up with friends and colleagues from throughout the southeast and maybe do a little sight-seeing while in Georgia.

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

EJ: I was hoping to network with archaeologists in Georgia and other close states. At FPAN, we're definitely focused on Florida but we do have to remember that the state line is a pretty recent invention. Many of the cultures we study moved past this line -- and many of the issues we're dealing with do as well, from legislation harmful to archaeology to sea level rise and coastal erosion. I was hoping to chat with folks about how they're working on these issues.

M: What did you actually learn?

EJ: I was amazed at the archaeology in South Florida. Funny that I go to Georgia to foster a new appreciation for Florida sites, huh?! Several papers in the "Ancient Water Worlds: The Role of Dwelling and Traveling in the Southeastern Archaeological Record" symposium detailed the monumental shell architecture of Florida's southern residents. I didn't really realize just how impressive these sites were until now.

M: What was the hardest past of attending SEAC?

EJ: The hardest thing this year was choosing what to do! Many of the sessions I was interested in were scheduled at the same time so I had some big choices to make. Do I go to a session on consulting with Tribes or one on regulatory archaeology? And then I couldn't make it to the lightning session organized by fellow FPANers because I was presenting during the Public Archaeology and Education session scheduled at the same time.

M: What from this SEAC will you bring back to the public for their benefit?

EJ: Well, a literal answer for this question - I talked with several archaeologists who have done work in Florida and hope to bring them in to speak at events next year so the public can hear about their work. But, less tangible terms, I hope to become a better advocate for archaeological resources in Florida. We've had conversations at several conferences recently about how legislation and regulation affect archaeology. At SEAC, I realized that Florida is one of the only states in the Southeast that has a statute to protect archaeological resources on state property or affected by state-funded projects. I hope to do more to bring raise public awareness about these laws. Both so Floridians understand and appreciate the protection that we give archaeological sites but also to get them out to visit and enjoy the resources. That's why they're protected in the first place - so everyone can enjoy them.

M: What sessions or activities did you take part in?

EJ: I presented in the general Public Archaeology and Education session. I went to sessions on: environmental studies and climate change, Florida's watery landscapes, state and federal regulations on archaeology, and shell middens. I also checked out some posters and jumped around other sessions to hear papers of interest. And I took a stroll in one of the historic cemeteries in Athens, of course!

M: Anything that surprised you?

EJ: This year's SEAC was the biggest ever! Registration was over 700 people. There were eight concurrent rooms of papers on Thursday and Friday, plus poster sessions. And there were four sessions on Saturday that lasted all day. It was great to see such a turn out - and to hear about such diverse and wonderful archaeology.

M: Got plans for next year's conference?

EJ: I do! I'm excited because it will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I've never been out west (to someone who hasn't crossed the Mississippi, this is indeed "out west!").  I look forward to seeing some of the amazing archaeological sites out there, like Spiro Mound. I also hope a lot of the conversations on shoreline changes, regulations, tribal consultations and public archaeology continue into next year's conference.

- - - -

For more information about the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, including next year's meeting, check out their website.

Words and text by Emily Jane Murray and Megan Liebold, FPAN staff.

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