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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 September 2010

ARM Training and Archaeological Monitoring

I just may have one of the most interesting jobs around town.  I am a Certified Archaeological Monitor which is a part of my job with FPAN, Northeast Region at Flagler College.  My responsibilities involve visiting and evaluating potential archaeological sites in our seven county Northeast Florida region.  I can determine if the sites should be listed on the Florida Master Site File (FMSF).  How did I get such an interesting job and earn that monitor moniker? First, I had to be trained.  

ARM Training with Mary Glowacki
Archaeological Resource Management Course (ARM Training)

The Florida Department of State, Bureau of Archaeological Research, offers a course in how to document archaeological sites. Florida contains some of the most significant archaeological sites in North America. The State is responsible for managing and conserving these important sites and recording them on the Florida Master Site File (FMSF).  But the State needs Florida’s citizens to help recognize, document and protect our archeological heritage.  The Florida Master Site File has served since the early 1970’s as a clearing house for information on the cultural resources of the State.  It is the State equivalent of the National Register of Historic Places. Last January I was sent to Tallahassee to participate in three days of ARM training to learn how to record archaeological sites on the FMSF.

Kevin Porter conducting ARM training in  the field

The trainers at the State Division of Archaeological Research are friendly and supportive, know their stuff and teach it well.  Besides learning about the specific forms and procedures to record a site, we learned about Florida laws and policies protecting cultural resources, the organization and staffing of the State Division of Historical Resources, and Florida history and important archaeological sites in Florida. We even spent a day in the field learning how to conduct preliminary archaeological surveys to assist in evaluating the significance of archaeological resources.

Toni learning archaeological survey methods 

And we got a wonderful tour of State collections and the conservation labs in Tallahassee.

James Levy training in the collections & conservation lab

After completing the three days of training and submission of five take home assignments, I received my official state certification. I am now approved to record archaeological sites, and historic cemeteries, structures and landscapes. In the last several months, I have visited and recorded a number of cemeteries in Nassua, Putnam, Volusia, Flagler and St. Johns counties. I’ve also recorded one historic landscape and several archaeological sites. If future development is proposed near any of these cultural resources, there will be a record of their location and significance. 

Certificate from completion of ARM training.

Bosque Bello Cemetery in Fernandina Beach
Toni Wallace and B. J. Miller examine a well.

So if you are aware of a possible archaeological site, old cemetery, historic building or landscape, give me a call.  I'll check to see if it is already recorded.  If not, I'll come out and we can work together to record and protect our wonderful archaeological and historic resources in northeast Florida.  You can reach me, Toni Wallace, at the FPAN-NE office at Flagler College, (904)819-6404 or twallace@flagler.edu.

For more information also check out the Division of Historical Resources training page:

How to Be...an archaeologist, that is

Graphic from Fagan's 2006 Archaeology Article.
This weekend I had the pleasure of answering the question, “How can I become an archaeologist?” for the 2,000th time.  I’m still excited to asnwer and on the drive home it hit me that a blog demystifying the professional process is long overdue.

First off, you need a field school.  This is where you learn the methods and techniques for excavating in the field. Plus digging long days in the sun covered in copious bug bites along with site drama will well prepare you well for a career in archaeology.

Yours truly showing students how to schnit at Princess Place.
There are several field schools here in northeast Florida.  University of Florida has two every summer, a  Prehistoric and a Historical field school.  The University of North Florida also operates an annual field school in our region.  Almost anyone can register to take a field school, but they can be expensive (room, board, tuition).  More than just an outdoor course, field schools are an initiation into the culture of archaeologists. You meet your cohorts for years to come, colleagues you’ll see at conferences and maybe depend on for a job in the future (heck, I met my husband at field school!).

A typical field school runs on average six to eight weeks during the summer.  You will learn how to schnit with a shovel, scrape with a trowel, and most importantly how to record a site through line drawings and photography. 

Still looking for a career in archaeology?

Do you need to go to college? Yes. The Secretary of the Interior standards for a field technician require a Bachelors degree in Anthropology or a related field.  Should you plan to go on from there? A Masters is a very good degree to have; it will allow you to supervise and serve as Principle Investigator on consulting projects as well as teach as an adjunct or at community colleges. For the debate on a Masters vs. a PhD I'll refer you to Brian Fagan's 2006 article, "So you want to be an archaeologist?"

How much does it pay and can you find a job?  I like to equate the pay for an archaeologist to the salary of a teacher; you don’t do either to get rich. As for jobs, I believe there is good news, provided you are willing to move.  Since getting my Masters in 2001 I have always had a full time job in archaeology. It might surprise you to know there are nearly 6,000 members that belong to the Society for American Archaeology.  Not everyone has a job, but that's a lot of archies!

Flagler County high school student helps bisect a feature.
If you’d like to look into field schools, the American Anthropology Association publishes a list of field schools. For finding an academic program, look up sites that interest you and don't forget to puruse newsletters of professional organizations such as the Society of Historical Archaeology, Society of American Archaeology, or regional groups such as the Southeastern Archaeological Conference.

It’s almost every day that I meet someone that wishes they had become an archaeologist. It’s not for everyone, but for those who are interested going the professional distance, good luck and get started researching!

For more information click on the hyperlinks in the text or additional pages listed below:

Society for Historical Archaeology's Guide to Graduate Programs

SHA Article Becoming an Archaeologist

Society for American Archaeology's FAQ for Students

Oh, and be ready for plenty of these...

"What Is It?" Wednesday

Alright, this one is more of a scavenger hunt.

Hint, it's made of coquina.

It marks a feature of national significance.

It's near the largest coquina fort in the world, and next door to a National Register listed cemetery.

Oh, and it's heavier than heck!
(no, I didn't really touch the coquina)



Archaeology Activitsm: Get Out There!!!

I did something recently, and I want you all to try it yourself...standing up to advocate for cultural resources. A lot of experiences came together for me this week that allowed and encouraged me to participate, and after the meeting I had time to reflect on the question: how would someone who was interested get started in cultural advocacy?

Being an activist is not easy. First you have to decide if should speak up, and after you can say yes to that, an even harder question to answer is when and how you should speak up.

The best in the archaeology activist
business, Dot Moore of New Smyrna Beach.
First, find an issue that matters to you. Find a site that you care about and monitor any activity that might bring impacts to the site, such as increased visitation or new construction. You can also follow funding sources and make sure public funds are spent on heritage sites and encourage heritage tourism.

It is important to note that archaeology rarely stops development; it can only hope to postpone ground disturbing activities until the site has been properly recorded. Once the site has been studied and determined not eligible for listing on the National Register, construction generally begins. For a site to be determined eligible it must have portions of the site that are intact and be able to make a scientific contribution through the study of the features or artifacts found on site. And that determination is not up to you and me, the State’s Historic Preservation Officer (or SHPO) is the person who concurs with a recommendation by an archaeologist that the site is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Getting listed is a whole other story for another time…

After you found an issue, your journey to being an advocate has only just begun. If you want to speak up, best not to put the pressure on yourself to articulate a passionate point in front of an audience and televised on government TV without some proper thought. I have had my own dark days of speaking up unprepared and reflecting for days and days of what I could have done better, how could I have served my message more effectively.

Save yourself dark days of reflection like mine! Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare! Know your issue, get yourself a thick file going and read all you can from your community and cases like yours in surrounding communities.

Flagler County Board of Commissioners.
2) Part of preparing is getting your script together. Most meetings allow for three minutes of public comment, that’s a page and a half (double spaced). Write out your message, practice it before you go, and even read from it if you are like me and likely to waffle when in front of an audience. You may not need it in the end, but better as your allotted time arrives that you have at least your script to fall back on.
3) Use your script as a checklist. If people ahead of you make the same comment, cross it off your list and save yourself precious seconds. Or if you want to keep your point intact, reference the earlier speaker. Seeing the interconnectedness of similar concerns can only help give the impression that the community is united on this issue, and shows you were listening.

4) Make sure to introduce yourself. You may have a fancy title, you may not, but the best information a public body has is that you are a citizen and resident of the community. Remember, public officials work for you!

5) Whatever you do, don’t plan to speak at a meeting that you have never attended yourself. I highly recommend you look up the regular meeting schedules, attend a local government meeting no less than once a year. Each governing body has their own meeting culture, flow of the meeting, and level of formality. The more your presentation can match the culture of the board, the more comfortable everyone listening or speaking will be.

6) Attend committee meetings. In St. Johns County, for example, the Historic Resource Review Board is a committee made up of individuals representing different districts around the county that have applied for the position and are appointed to serve. These meetings are open to the public. Same goes for Volusia County, where the board rotates its meeting site throughout the county. Clay County has a similar committee that meets once a month in the Old Courthouse.

7) Finally, know your local officials. This group is changing day to day. From city, to county, to state and federal, there are a lot of elected officials and appointees to keep track of throughout the year. The web has a lot of links and resources for knowing your local government officials. If you attend a meeting or watch on TV, look up the names of your elected officials and get to know what issues they’re attached to for future reference.

Get out there and get active! A healthy democracy depends on informed citizens from diverse points of view. And drop us a line anytime- we’d love to talk to you about any civic issue to find the archaeological talking points and would like to hear about what issues matter to you.

And remember, archaeology should always be good news!

Proclamation made by St. Johns County Board of
Commissioners to kick off Florida Archaeology Month 2008.

Dig It!: Ormond's Burial Mound

Sometimes exploring new areas does bode well for an explorer. During his travels throughout the southeastern United States, William Bartram contributed significantly to our understanding and knowledge of nature in the Southeast. A naturalist, Bartram traveled to eight states, including Florida, in order to observe and record the natural world. Payne's Prairie Preserve State Park became a favored spot when Bartram visited in 1774. He also recorded the activities and customs of Native American groups such as the Seminoles, Creeks, and Cherokees. In 1768, Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish physician, set out to establish a colony along Florida's east coast (present day New Smyrna). Although the colony failed after only nine years, Turnbull's attempt to settle in Florida created an impressive agricultural enterprise and generated a culture presence for Minorcans that continues today. In the spirit of well known explorers such as Christopher Colombus and Juan Ponce de Leon, I headed to Ormond Beach to see what lands, peoples, animals, plants I could discover.

I was in luck! Ames Park, a beautiful gardens with benches and paths next to the Halifax River, awaited me. I took in the natural beauty of the area. Since it was an adventure day, I had to investigate everything. My curiosity led to my favorite find of the day! A seal carved into a nearby concrete post. Despite my fascination with a new friend, I traveled on. Walking the peaceful paths and marveling at the gorgeous gardens and birds feeding, I decided to explore the most interesting part of Ames Park-- a burial mound across the street.

Preserved in the 1980s, the Ormond Burial Mound is one of the most intact burials mounds in eastern Florida. Salvage excavations indicate that the Timucua began utilizing the mound around 800 A.D. Over 100 individual burials remain in the mound. Mounds take their shape as the bones of individual Native Americans are bundled together after the body decomposes, laid on the existing layer, and covered with sand. The Ormond Beach Historical Society offers excellent information about the mound online.

Although it appears small in pictures, the burial mound is quite impressive. Also noteworthy is how the community embraces its existence. Ormond Beach campaigned to preserve it and now the mound serves as an impressive reminder of the history and archaeology that binds an area.

Exploration can be rewarding! Perhaps I did not discover a new world or a new species (unless concrete seals count), but I found some natural and archaeological wonders.

View from Ames Park.

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