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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 June 2010

Techie Talk

Last week I journeyed to Palatka for Eco Adventure Days at Ravine Gardens State Park. Not only is the park beautiful, but the day was fun too. With a group of about fourteen kids I talked to them about archaeology, replicas of Timucuan artifacts, and (most importantly to the kids) we threw atlatls.

After my lovely drive to Palatka, I was greeted by a sea of still slightly sleepy faces. I worked to wake them up and get their brains interested in and thinking about archaeology. We started off by exploring what their ideas of archaeology are. I was surprised (and pleased) that dinosaurs and Indiana Jones never came up. I knew I had an awesome group of kids at that point. We talked about technology and how people today might have the same basic needs (food, shelter, water, clothing, et cetera) as people in the past, though we use our resources differently. The kids, for example, realized that the Timucua did not have cars, shopping carts and bags, or grocery stores like we do. Instead Native Americans relied on other methods of feeding themselves, such as hunting and cultivation. Their technology suited their needs, but are quite different from what we use.

Our discussion of technology and the replicas of items such as gourds and buckskin (from a deer or moose for example) segued perfectly into the highlight of the day--atlatls! (On a side note: I learned two awesome facts about the process of making a buckskin. Smoke from a fire makes the material fireproof and deer (as I was talking about deer skin in this case) have exactly enough brain to lubricate their own hide.

Finally we made it to the courtyard area where we could throw atlatls. The kids threw one round with Chuck-its, a safer version of spear throwing that involves tennis balls instead of projectile point-like tips. After the practice round the kids used the real thing and loved it! They could experience and witness how the atlatl acts as an extra elbow. The additional thrust from the atlatl causes the spear to travel faster and further. Everyone (even the park rangers!) were eager to use the spears. Many kids impressed the adults by how far, and how well, they could throw. We had a few balls fly into the fountains and a few spears that came close as well.

After the experimental archaeology and the process of learning a bit about archaeology, the kids were ready to end their day with a run to the fountain. It proved to be a wonderful way to end my time at Ravine Gardens' Eco Adventure Days.

Six Feet Under with Sarah, Part III

West View Cemetery, Palatka, Putnam County, FL by Sarah Miller

It seems I can begin every blog in the Six Feet Under series with this phrase, but here it goes: Sarah has a new favorite cemetery!

Last week Toni Wallace and I had the opportunity to visit and record West View Cemetery near historic downtown Palatka. The Cemetery was established in the 1840s and is still in use today. What makes it my new favorite? Could it be the Woodsman marble markers, or metal statues or obelisks?

A great variety of Woodsmen of the Word (WOW) markers abound. These are markers from a fraternal organization, somewhat like the masons but with a very different ideology. WOW members would pass the hat to provide all members with a memorial marker that featured a maul, axe, wood, and dove (Hacker 2001, Sefter 2001).
Woodsman markers can be found all across the country, and I included a few images from West View to compare to ones you may have seen.:

Several famous figures are buried in the cemetery, including Florida’s first governor under statehood William Dunn Moseley (1795-1863), physician and mayor of Palatka Edmond Walter Warren (1875-1935), and politician Howell Anderson Davis (1873-1957). I almost missed this headstone for northwest Volusia County businessman Barney Dillard. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings used Dillard’s life as a pioneer, musician, and historian as source material for many of her stories in The Yearling (1939) (Poertner 1999). I would have missed it if not for our hostess for the day, Christy Sanford.

But I haven’t gotten to the heart of West View. I appreciate cemeteries as dynamic spaces between the living and those who have parted. And for this, West View made me smile. In the back in the modern section was a collection of burials that featured benches before the headstones. I’ve never seen so many benches! Places for quiet visitation, contemplation, and areas to keep memories alive; a sign that cemeteries are just important for what they say about the living and our feelings about death, and taking care of one another. One headstone in particular evoked powerful maternal emotions; a mother and son buried side by side with the inscription, “My moon, my stars.” A bench in front of the son’s headstone features the lyrics to “Freebird.”

For evoking powerful emotions from a stranger, words that struck at the very heart of what it means to me to be human and walking around on this earth, West View Cemetery is my new favorite.

Reminder: please enjoy cemeteries as outdoor museums, but visit with respect. No rubbings, no trash, no loud noises, no impact to the environment except your footprint and occasional snap of a camera.
Thanks to Toni for doing all the leg work and Christy Sanford for bringing the cemetery to our attention.

Hacker, Debi
2001 Iconography of Death: Common Symbolism of Late 18th Through Early 20th Century Tombstones in the Southeastern United States. Chicora Foundation, Columbia S.C.
Poertner, Bo
1999 “Stories of Life in Backwoods Florida Live On Through Books, Memories.” Orlando Sentinel May 25, 1999.

Sefton, Julie
2001 “Woodsmen of the World” on-line article viewed at
http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~julieann/woodmen.htm on June 26, 2010.

Workshop in the Wilderness

The Center recently held its first teacher workshop of the year. FPAN partnered with National Park Service staff at Cumberland Island National Seashore to create a unique opportunity for teachers from Florida and Georgia. A welcome committee of wild horses greeted us as we unpacked workshop materials from the ferry.

The Center was excited to offer Project Archaeology training using a new curriculum book for third through fifth grades. Investigating Shelter teaches principles of archaeology with hands-on activities and real site examples. The lessons meet standards for science, social studies, math, and language arts. Attendees also enjoyed two rare opportunities. Saturday morning an NPS ranger demonstrated how tabby is made. On Sunday, the group visited standing chimneys from the Stafford slave cabins.

If you are interested in summer teacher workshops, you have not missed your chance. The Center is offering three more workshops this summer. Check our website for details.

Teachers sort and organize "Doohicky" kits to practice classification:

Workshop materials and luggage before loading up for the hour long ferry ride to the remote island:

Teacher's were treated to a slake lime and tabby demonstration! Watched it sizzle!

For more articles like these keep checking the blog, or checkout our latest newsletter June 2010.

We're Winners!

Coquina Queries wins Statewide Preservation Award

Last month Executive Director William Lees and myself stood up to accept a Statewide Preservation Award from the Florida Trust. The Florida Trust is a statewide organization dedication to the preservation of heritage sites. Each year they give awards to recognize those who made a special contribution over the year in the categories of historic preservation, historical archaeology landscape, and our own Heritage Education. We won alongside other organizations such as:

But back to us! Several components made up the overall Coquina Queries project: teacher activity guide, coquina kits, website, workshops, and festivals/events.
Teacher Activity Guide

Coquina Queries are a collection of ten lesson plans that bring together the geology, history, archaeology, environment, and chemistry of Florida ’s past through hands-on experiments and first-hand experiences with coquina. Each Coquina Queries unit combines three content areas: coquina structures, archaeological processes, and events and persons in Florida history. These units balance reading and writing with hands-on activities to stimulate student interest while building FCAT skills.


A total of four workshops have been held throughout northeast Florida. The first workshop occurred as a pilot in Flagler County in April 2008. Since that time, the workshop has repeated at DeBary Hall in Volusia County, Flagler College in St. Augustine, and the Amelia Island Museum of History. Opportunities to visit local sites is encouraged during the workshop and we follow up with the teachers regularly after the program. Workshops are announced by postcard mailer and email distribution lists. Our next workshop is July 15-16, 2010. Contact aweiss@flagler.edu to register or for more information.

Coquina Kits

Along with the activity guide, the Center developed kits that could be checked out by schools and museums to assist in the hand-on components of the lessons. Materials needed for the experiments are provided to the educators, plus supplemental material including primary and secondary resources. Some tools and visual aids—such as indigo seeds, limestone, and donax shells—enhance learning opportunities for students.


All the lessons and images of the coquina kits are posted online at http://www.coquinaqueries.org/. Educators can visit the site to find out more information about coquina, plan a trip with the interactive map of sites used throughout the guide, post a comment, or download the lessons for free from the ease of their own home or school.

Festivals and Library Programs

Center staff have modified the lessons for use in festivals—such as Coquina: Florida’s Pet Rock activity and display—as well as library programs and summer camps. Since the lessons are activity based, they work to hold the students interest through experimentation, while learning about the state’s significant buried past.

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