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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 December 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….

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