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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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Archive for 2008

Bringing Maple Leaf to the Surface through Interpretation

In addition to writing term papers upon the return from Crystal River, yours truly had to buckle down and get hard to work on the newest addition to our interpretive tool chest here at FPAN….an interactive tarp of the Maple Leaf shipwreck*.

For those who have not heard of the Maple Leaf, she was a paddle-wheel steamship contracted by the US Army during the Civil War to transport troops and baggage. After bringing troops and baggage to Jacksonville from South Carolina, she was ordered to transport fresh horses to a cavalry detachment in Palatka; before the baggage in her hold could be unloaded in Jacksonville. The trip up river to Palatka was uneventful, but on her return towards Jacksonville the Maple Leaf struck a confederate “torpedo” (what we today call a mine) that had been placed in the St. John’s the previous evening. Having sunk of Mandarin Point, the wreck was located by a group of local history buffs who created St. Johns Archaeological Expeditions, Inc (SJAEI) and in conjunction with East Carolina University (ECU) conducted excavations of the shipwreck. With the diverse artifact assemblage, and the shipwrecks’ role as a true moment in time, Maple Leaf was the perfect candidate for a maritime archaeology interpretive tarp.

The tarp we produced measures 9 ft X 12 ft and is painted with the site plan of the steamship. For “artifacts” we decided to use various blocks of wood with pictures of the actual items recovered applied to them with a wood burner. On 22 Nov, we had the opportunity to test run the tarp for a group of cub scouts who were doing a service project at the Mandarin Museum in Jacksonville. Only a few hundred yards from the shipwreck, the location was perfect for the tarp’s debut. We had 46 scouts and parents in attendance. Andy Morrow, director of the museum, and Sarah began by talking to the group about the historical context, what was archaeology, the nature of doing archaeology underwater, etc, before the scouts were broken up into groups for a relay race. In groups of two to three scouts, we had them put on scuba masks, “dive” onto the site, turn over an artifact block (some of which were blank…yes we’re evil…), return to their recorder with whom they used a key to identify the artifact and then map it. We then looked at how they recorded the site and talked briefly about how the artifacts are distributed in roughly three main areas: Sutler goods, Officers goods, and enlisted goods. Having accomplished all of this in a half hour time slot, we then took pictures of the scouts with “Florida Floyd” the archaeological Mr. Potato head.

Now, to our next adventures with FPAN…..

-Adam Cripps

*For those interested in learning more about the Maple Leaf, you can visit their website at Http://www.mapleleafshipwreck.com/. Artifacts from the wreck can be seen at the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, as well at the Mandarin Museum. Speaking of the Mandarin Museum, they are having their 9th Annual Winter Celebration this Saturday, 6 December, from 11AM to 4PM, so it’s a good excuse to stop by for a visit!

Camping with FPAN-Central

Howdy everyone!

This is my first time blogging, so I’ll go ahead and introduce myself. My name is Adam Cripps, and I’m another one of Sarah’s minions….I mean outreach assistants. I’m a senior here at Flagler College, and am also the president of the newly formed Archaeology Club on campus. Here in a few weeks, I’ll be wrapping up my first semester working with FPAN….wow time flies by quickly…..

But now we proceed to the meat and potatoes of this post, Sarah has asked me to share some highlights of the last few weeks with all you loyal readers.

On the weekend of 14-16 November, the schools archaeology club made a trip down to the Crystal River State Archaeological Site. The Central Regional Center of FPAN, headed by Mr. Richard Estabrook, sponsored the trip and arranged camping for us at the park as well as a personalized tour of the site. In addition to the personal tour, the club arrived just in time to participate in the “Moon over the Mounds” tour that the park runs as well as observe the beginnings of a dugout canoe in their experimental archaeology area. Nicholas Baine, a freshman at Flagler, and yours truly even got to help out the park staff for a bit by hacking at the tree with some shell tools. It wasn’t just fun and games for the weekend however, as we set to work preparing a new section of the “temple mound” for excavation by school groups as part of their “Sifting for Technology” program. For those unfamiliar with the program, it is a replica temple mound made up of actual materials from Mound B which fell into the river when the seawall collapsed in 1993. Various schools and groups, especially those catering to at-risk youths, come out and excavate the mound which provides the basis for a faunal analysis to complement other work being done at the site in areas where contextual integrity is still present. The club also visited other historic and archaeological sites in the area, such as the Yulee Sugar Mill, before heading back to term papers.

Keep an eye out later this week for my next posting on the Maple Leaf shipwreck and the newest addition to our interpretive tool box….
On the eve of Halloween, Flagler College received a special treat from the St. Augustine Archaeological Association. In conjunction with their bi-monthly meeting and co-sponsored by FPAN, we hosted a guest lecture from Dr. Jason Ur, Harvard’s youngest assistant professor.

With the Flagler Room as the back drop, Dr. Ur’s topic for the evening was based around archaeological evidence of Urbanization in Mesopotamia. Focusing on the fieldwork conducted by Dr. Ur and his colleagues in the North East region of Syria, the audience enjoyed slides from excavations and intensive surface surveys. An added thrill was his use of
Google earth to demonstrate just how easy it is to see the area of Mesopotamian Urbanization from a bird’s eye view.

Tell Brak, the area where Dr. Ur bases his current research, has gone through several stages of growth and reduction spanning over at least 12,000 years. Over this period of time, the urban settlement Nagar (Brak’s ancient name) ranged in size from roughly 136 acres to 321 acres. From the image provided by Google earth, it is easy to see that there was a centralized urban area with suburban communities located along the outskirts. Interest
ingly, the original center of the urbanized area is far beneath the ground due it being buried by a number of later occupations. One of the most interesting points of Dr. Ur’s presentation was the method in which his team gathered artifacts. Since the site was used by people for such a long time, along with the large number of people living there, artifacts are actually present on the surface of the ground. The team of archaeologists did not have to look hard and were able to collect thousands of pottery sherds. Dr. Ur explained that another reason why it is easy to find artifacts in this region is because of the environment. Syria is a very dry area, which means no water to create mud or vegetation which would cover up the artifacts.

In Dr. Ur’s closing, he was ecstatic to see the turn out of the lecture. A whopping 80 attendees were on hand hailing from Flagler College, the SAAA, FPAN, and the general public. He also promised a future visit and presentation on the urbanization of St. Augustine in the months to come. As a side note, Dr. Ur credits his parents for his interest in archaeology. Dr. Ur’s mother, Lynn Ur, volunteers on a regular basis with Carl Halbirt, St. Augustine’s city archaeologist.

--Rosalie Cocci

You Don't Know Butts!

If you didn't know there is an archaeology park in downtown Daytona Beach, then you don't know Butts! Samuel Butts, that is. Ever since we heard about the park over the summer we tried to drive by, but to no avail. Well, yesterday Amber and I locked hands in Thelma and Louise fashion and pledged to not go home until we had laid eyes on the prize.

We arrived at the 29-acre park to find a large, fenced in retention pond with nicecly constructed wood plank walkways out to an "island." We followed the path and met the first of 8 interpretive signs on the island itself. Panels incased in glass (difficult to photograph) included topics on Florida Prehistory; artifacts collected by Mr. Butts including a mastodon jaw, prehistoric shell tools and pottery; and environmental panels on native butterflies and cedars.

We walked the length of the path on the "island" and discovered we were in fact on a peninsula attached to land by another parking lot closer to Nova and the Pepsi plant. Signage continued along the outer path revealing more of Samuel's biography, his dedication to researching the neighborhood, and remains of a general store that operated from the 1890s to 1920s. There were several kiosks throughout the park where you could push a button and hear Samuel himself interpret the surroundings for you.

Promoting this park is not without difficulty. Playing the part of heritage tourists ourselves, we found it very difficult to find the park or get information about it from others the historical community. I would feel a little more comfortable encouraging visitors if access to the site on the island was more limited, allowing the visitor to enjoy the signage along the outer walkway and limiting access to the island itself. However, the dedication of Mr. Butts (who is still living and playing music locally according to one on-line article) is to be commended and his reporting and recording of the site to the Division of Historic Resources is equally admirable. It's great that the park exists and was supported by the City and the state of Florida. On-line we noticed appeals for help in monitoring activity on the site. This need was evident from a broken glass pane and we noted that some of the voice boxes were in need of repair.

For those of you wishing to visit the park first hand here are some directions: head east on International Speedway (away from I-95). Continue down to Nova hang a right. Go past the Museum of Art and Science and take a left at the light at Bellevue. There were several lots to park in, but we didn't realize we were at the right place until the road hooked around and we saw clear signage for the Samual Butts Youth Archaeological Park and Recreational Trail.

Mala Compra- Not such a bad deal.

On August first, the FPAN crew headed out to Anastasia Island to help reverse the stigma of the archaeological site known as Mala Compra- Mala Compra meaning
"bad purchase." At the peak of its era, the Mala Compra plantation was a part of the Northeast Florida plantation system. Between 1816 and 1836, the plantation produced sea island cotton, cotton that is known for its long fibers and silky feel. As it was in the 1800’s, this cotton is the most valuable and costly cotton on the market. After 20 years of sea island cotton production, Mala Compra was burned down by the Seminole Indians during the Second Seminole war.

Fast forwarding about 170 years we now find ourselves at the grand opening of the Mala Compra site. After receiving historical recognition in March, the outside exhibit lured not only the whole Northeast Region FPAN crew, but state and
local officials along with people of the archaeological community and the public at large, as well. About 115 people in all watched with excitement the cutting of the ribbon, officially welcoming the public to come and learn about the plantation that once stood on the island site.

The focus of the grand opening was the amazing open-air exhibit which featured the remains of the plantation. Located above the site, visitors are able to walk along catwalks and get a bird’s eye view of what is left. Visitors were elated to see that the features can be illuminated with the push of a button a
nd moreover some stations even have audio to describe and explain the points of interest. Another stimulating element of the Mala Compra site is the displays of artifacts found during the excavation. Sherds of pottery, pieces of pipe, and even a child’s boot spur are among the displayed items.

This site is open to the public during daylight hours and promises to bring archaeological history into anyone’s life. The FPAN crew was honored to be a part of the grand opening and hopes that a more positive light will be shed on Mala Compra’s future.

--Rosalie Cocci

Island Adventures

Last week Sarah and I traveled to the southernmost part of our region to explore a cracker house and a possible shell mound, and also so that I could meet our counterparts from the East Central region, Rachel and Tim. And although those sites turned out not to be the most exhilarating that we’ve ever seen, we had our share of adventure.

We love getting out and exploring the archaeological sites in our region, so the four of us took the opportunity to check out Hontoon Island, a state park in Deland featuring, among other attractions, a prehistoric Indian mound.

Our visit started with a brief boat ride from the parking area to the island itself, during which time we were directed to the museum and the trail that leads to some cabins and, eventually, the mound.

The museum displayed some fascinating artifacts, as well as a reconstructed profile of the layers in the shell mound. We also saw some pictures and discussion of a huge wooden owl totem, which for some reason had been moved to the Fort Caroline National Memorial several years ago.

After the museum, we spent several minutes doing extensive archaeological (ahem) study of a manatee swimming near the docks.

Just before leaving, Sarah, Tim, and I headed down the path to the mound, even though we didn’t have time to go all the way to it. Rachel wisely stayed behind. We got as far as the cabins and started back, when we stumbled upon our greatest adventure of the day: we were attacked by a giant rattlesnake!

Okay. When I say attacked, I mean we almost walked over it, and by huge, I mean about a foot-and-a-half long. All the same, we spent about ten minutes trying to figure out how to navigate our peril. None of us were sure how to get around it without immediate need of medical help, and we felt too silly to call the park rangers over a foot-long snake. Sarah tried the “throw something at it” method using the stem of a palm frond, but missed the snake by enough that he didn’t seem to notice anything new. I had just about decided to take up residence in cabin one when Tim discovered some luck at just cutting the rattler a wide berth. He started past the snake and it turned away, slithering off the path, but not before Sarah snapped some more photos.

So, now that I’ve been through it, I’ve learned a little something. If you find yourself in the path of a rattler and aren’t sure what to do, call Tim or Sarah. I’ll be in cabin one.

Dive Right In!

Wow! It’s my third day on the job at FPAN Northeast, and I’ve gotten to jump in with both feet. Sarah, Toni, Rosalie, and I have been playing with kids at a variety of camps, including one for middle-school students from around Florida and two for elementary-aged kids in St. Augustine and Hastings.

It’s our second week of camp, and we dove right into underwater Archaeology, exploring some of the basics of digging in the deep. The kids got to learn about how a shipwreck turns into an archaeological site over time, as well as learning some hand signals used for communicating underwater. They also got to put their hands (and sometimes feet) on Sarah’s very own SCUBA equipment!

Finally, as a means of learning how archaeologists use grids in underwater sites, the kids got to play Battleship. They set up the ships on their own sites, then called out coordinates to try and pin down the layout of their opponents’ ships, tracking the results on the Battleship grid.

We’ll continue the underwater exploration for a couple more weeks; next week we’ll map out our own shipwrecks using the Battleship grids, and in the final week the kids will build, sail, and sink their own ships!

Stay tuned for more adventures, landlubbers!

--Amber J.

Ruins in the Dunes!

Flagler College students took to the beach for the second year in a row to build world famous monuments out of sand. Eric Giles' archaeology class went at it all morning to re-create Serpent Mound, East Island's Moai monument, Athenian Acropolis, Alexandrian Amphitheater, and a Mayan temple. After constructing their masterpieces, students spoke about the cultures that created them.

This is always a fun event- bringing students out in the "field," watching the interested beach goers approach to see what's going on, and seeing other kids on the beach testing the limits of their castle skills!

I was really impressed by the students understanding of landscape, seeing how people interacted with and created their environment. The Moai group not only built one of the famous Easter Island heads, they did the entire island! They showed where the stones were quarried, how the giant heads were transported to their current positions, and how the formations changed over time. For an anthropologist, you can't get any better than how cultures change over time!

Think you can do better? Come join us next year! Just remember to bring your sun block! Eric's bright red feet were a glowing reminder of the fun (and learning!) that went on that day.

For more pictures see our new "Ruins in the Dunes" gallery on our website.

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Exploring Forts and Frontiers on Amelia Island

What a weekend! This past Saturday, the FPAN crew, along with Flagler College Archaeology Club, and some extra volunteers, headed out to Fernandina on Amelia Island for the "Exploring Forts and Frontiers" event. There were guided trolley tours, which transported visitors between Fort Clinch and the historic Fort San Carlos site in the Old Town plaza. It was in this plaza that we set up an excavation, allowing the public to come get their hands dirty and participate in archaeology!
FPAN recieved permission from the state to do the dig, as teh results will be used in making a decision to put up a fence around the plaza area. We opened up 2 units and screened with the help of eager event participants. Not even the near-gale-forced winds kept people from coming out and enjoying themselves for the event! We all had a great time and we met a lot of great people! Thanks to everyone involved for all your hard work!

Back to the Future

This weekend we kicked off Archaeology Month '08 with celebrations and spectacles like none other! I headed out to Faver-Dykes State Park in St. Augustine with volunteer Paul Jordan for the Day in Old Florida festival, while the others headed over to Kingsley Plantation on Amelia Island for the Kingsley Heritage Festival.
At Kingsley, Dr. James Davidson gave a lecture on the history of the plantation, and his work excavating the slave cabins. The lecture was followed by a site tour.
At the Day in Old Florida, FPAN had an information station highlighting our renown Charms display and pierced coin activity. We shared the space with many environmental preservation groups, and scores of re-enactors who demonstrated what life was like for Florida's early settlers. We met a lot of great people and taught a lot of visitors about Charm usage throughout history. Thank you so much for everyone who came out and attended the events this weekend, and thank you Cristy Leonard for all your help at Faver-Dykes!
Thats the Dirt for today!

Matt Armstrong

Atlatl Antics, Continued...

Hello and Happy New Year everyone!

Sorry it's been so long - its been a very busy and exciting start to 2008. The calendar is filling up quick, with Archaeology Month looming, and we are looking forward to seeing all of you out at our events between Nassau and Volusia counties!
We just got back to the office today, after doing another successful run of the Atlatl Antics activity - this time with Ms. Anderson's 2nd grade class at the Children's Reading Center Charter School in Palatka. The kids loved the activity, and it was easy for them to see the advantage of using the atlatl compared to throwing the spear by hand. The best 'by hand' throws of usually landed around 10 meters. With the atlatls they were landing around 20 meters (double the original!) - and one student even managed 33 meters! Ms. Anderson herself placed a close second with 28 meters. They all learned a lot about atlatls and archaeology in general, and were all excited to participate in this prehistoric technology lesson. Thank you so much Ms. Anderson and your wonderful class!

shock and awe

Did I mention the school vaguely resembles a lunar colony?

If you need some FPAN in your life this weekend (and who doesn't?) come see us at the Yesterdays Festival at Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park in Clay County! That's the Dirt for today.

Matt Armstrong

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