Thursday, March 24, 2011

 This week I traveled to Tallahassee to participate in a process that has become near and dear to my heart: DHR grant hearings.  While this post is dedicated to the project I went to defend, I'm also feeling sentimental about what the grants hearings have come to mean to me, and want to encourage more to participate.

First, the grant!

Timucuan replica hut at Ft. Caroline National Park.
"Timucuan Technology" was born from a conversation with a teacher during a Project Archaeology teacher training at Silver Springs when she turned to me and said, "You know, most of this falls into what I teach, biotechnology."  I knew archaeology was multidisciplinary, but I never considered striking out in a uniquely biotechnology arc.  Several months later we sat down in her classroom (and what a classroom it was!!) and discussed the ways in which our subjects overlap.  Those common places became the basis of modules intended to target middle school students.

Biotechnology classroom at Sanford Middle School.
If funded, our wish list consists of science modules for middle school grades based on prehistoric Timucuan technology. While some lessons will focus on geology, chemistry, and genetics, a large emphasis will be placed on biotechnology as the use and adaptation of natural materials by humans. Through this study students will explore human interaction with the environment and changes made over time by humans to meet their basic needs—food, clothing, and shelter—through biological products. Lithic and ceramic technology will be emphasized, as well as domestication of plants and animals for subsistence. Lessons will draw from the archaeological record of northeast Florida and use sites accessible to the public for potential field trip venues.

Topics may include:

• Aquaculture modifications in marsh and marine environments

• Specialization and production sites for transportation (i.e. canoes)

• Medicinal use of plants and animals

• Social application of biological products for feasting or rituals (i.e. Black Drink)

• Adaptation of living environment with emphasis on shelter

• Exploring human genome project and isotope analysis as they apply to prehistoric populations

• Forensics and paleopathology

Whelk adapted for cooking from Lake Monroe Midden.

• Applied biology and experimental archaeology (i.e. mosquito control)

• Adaptation and solutions for climate change (i.e. rising sea level)

• Evidence for biological selection in technology (i.e. sponge spicules in St. Johns pottery)

• Domestication for subsistence (i.e. corn and dogs)

• Adaptations for agricultural purposes (i.e. pesticides, herbicides, insecticides)

• Bioethics

Of course, the lessons will address the state’s existing science and social studies standards.  In addition, the modules will meet the criteria as a historic preservation education program for school children and support the Viva Florida goal to educate a significant target audience.

Pottery holds clues to selection of clays with small sponge inclusions,
or biological materials used for decoration.
So, how did we do? 
For Community and Education grants, we ranked #2 just below the statewide application for Florida Archaeology Month 2012. A true win/win for us. Thanks to Barbara Hines in the North Central FPAN office for coming to stand up and support our application, and to Leslee Keys to show solidarity for Flagler College. Thanks also to the men and women who not only listened tirelessly to the 60+ grant applicants who converged on the hearings, but actually read and read thoroughly the mountain of applications. Just take a look at the long list of applications submitted for the 2012 grant cycle.

Community Education and Survey & Planning Panel reviewed and ranked projects.
But we're not done yet....

Funding to all of the Preservation grants are in danger.  While the state Senate and House are debating the amount of money to put into the grant program as we speak, rumor among the hearings was the Governor's office may zero out all funds.  Let your Representatives, Senators, and the Governor know that funding for historic preservation is important and contributes to the economic growth of our state.  Take a look at the list of archaeology projects undertaken in the past, and try to imagine the resident or visitor experience of Florida without the contribution these project have made.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning stops by to thank panelists, applicants,
and urge us to contact elected officials in support of grants.
For more information on the Division of Historical Resources Grant program, check their website.  For more on the purpose and goals of Viva Florida visit:

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