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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 January 2011

Coming Soon - Archaeology: It's Out There!!!

Before you know it, Florida Archaeology Month will be upon us.  Every March we bring archaeology maddness to raise awareness of archaeological site in Florida.  This year the maddness has reached a new level.  The Northeast Regional Center is rolling out 10 programs designed to get the public out to archaeological sites and experience them in a different way.  

Come walk, bike, even sink your chi at some of northeast Florida's most significant and accessible sites.

Archaeology: It's Out There!!!

The official list of events will be released on our website next week, but here's a video of us out and on the trail.

We hope to see you then!

PS- free FPAN bike reflectors to the first to guess any one of the three trails or sites contained in the YouTube trailer.  Hint: one is in Duval County, one is in St. Johns County, and one is in Volusia County.

Reliving the Good (Not So Old) Days

I recently began a weekly trip back to my old stomping grounds.  Before my job as FPAN Northeast's Outreach Coordinator, I worked as the City of St. Augustine's Archaeology Assistant.  It started as a little bitty data entry job, adding lists of analyzed artifacts to a digital database, but over time the job became a full-time position.  As I saw where help was needed, I spent time organizing files and digitizing documents and photos from the City's excavations.  It may not have been a glamorous job, but it was work that needed to be done.

Working away in my old office at the City's lab.

Nowadays when I go into classrooms, I make sure to tell students that archaeology isn't just digging. For every man hour spent in the field, about five are needed in the lab.  I worked with the City's volunteers to analyze artifacts and manage office needs, maintain records, and do some fieldwork.  I left 2 1/2 years ago. Carl briefly had another assistant, but the position is now unfilled due to budget issues.

Volunteers analyze part of the City's vast artifact assemblage.

As that job has stood vacant, a little part of me has pined for the work that I did; I love my work with FPAN and wouldn't change jobs if you paid me (no really!), but those files became my babies.  Maybe it sounds silly, but I spent hours putting each file in order, then ordering them all in a system that Carl and I devised to  access them easily for research.  The idea that the system could be compromised--Carl, after all, has his hands full trying to keep up with his own work--just broke my heart. 

A fraction of Carl's 20 years worth of site records.

Luckily part of FPAN's mission involves supporting local governments.  As City Archaeologist, Carl's archaeology program qualifies!  As a result, I will spend one morning a week assisting City Archaeology with its lab and collections.  It's not nearly enough time to do all of the work, but I hope it will significantly help the program by maintaining order and updating the collection database.

Before I can start, however, the City must unpack the lab.  Carl's lab and offices recently moved from the Government House in the heart of downtown St. Augustine to a renovated warehouse owned by the City, just west of US 1.  Walking through on my first visit, I couldn't be more thrilled.  There is ample space for collections, a lab, offices, and plenty of room to grow.  It was a thing of beauty, and just the facility that the program has needed.

As for me, I started my work by reuniting with my babies, my files. I spent the first morning unpacking files-- 20 years of City digs-- and lovingly placing them in their new cabinets.  It was good to be together again.

Pictured above: me, the labors of my love.
 Some photos courtesy of St. Augustine's Archaeology Division.  To learn more about the City's Archaeology Program, visit http://www.digstaug.org/.

"What is it?" Wednesday: Cast Iron Pot

This week's installment of "What is it?" Wednesday is a true mystery. 

During a visit to the Amelia Island Museum of History, museum staff asked me to help identify this whole artifact.  The pot is heavy!  It is clearly cast iron with intricate designs.  There are geometric patterns around the rim and ivy like leaves in raise relief on the body.  The handle across the top is molded in the form of a branch or twig.  While to me it looks like a pot for cooking or warming, there was no sign of singe or being burned.

Mystery pot with ruler for scale.



Tomorrow's News, TODAY: Carl on San Marco

On a cold day in St. Augustine, City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt brought us news that warmed our hearts and minds.  Yesterday Carl responded in advance of planned construction (see St. Augustine Ordinance) across the street from the Castillo de San Marcos and uncovered several large features with sparse 16th century artifacts. 

What is it?  Too early to say, but plausible hypotheses range from a fort that would predate the existing (and 10th) Castillo across the street to a warehouse the was a support structure to the fort.

Look for article in paper later this week, but here is a sneak peek!

Carl with conservator John Powell (appropriately dressed for the site).

Shot recovered from the site that MAY* date to Searle's 1668 raid or Moore's 1702 seige.

Features scored in the ground to be documented before further investigation.

Carl stands next to the outline of a feature identified as a well. 
(Note: 14 foot distance across is only a portion of this enormous feature!)

Large posthole with post stain that has been bisected for photos and mapping.

View of project area, well feature is along back wall.

Experience Carl in the field- ambient noise and all!

** PLEASE NOTE WE ARE REPORTING FROM THE FIELD, INTERPRETATIONS ARE HIGHLY SUBJECT TO CHANGE.  We will report more as Carl returns to the field tomorrow and next week. 

For professional archaeologists concerned about site protection, the city is closely monitoring the site and has barricaded the area off from traffic. 

If you'd like to help or volunteer on the site, please contact the St. Augustine Archaeology Association.

Memorable Moments of 2010

In the spirit of the New Year, FPAN Northeast would like to present the moments, memories, and discoveries that defined the year in archaeology.

Carl Halbirt, St. Augustine's City Archaeologist, continued to explore the city's past. In his usual Superman-like manner, Carl conducted three major excavations this year. Why, you may wonder, is he so excited about them?

Aviles Street: The Rehabilitation Project enabled Carl to dig on one of, if not the, oldest roads in St. Augustine. Work on the road lead Carl to believe that the sequence of unique road deposits dated to the late 1500s/early 1600s. Features (a very exciting word to archaeologists) indicated the location of the west wall of Los Remedios, a 16th century parish church.

Fountain of Youth (F.O.Y.): Although the Fountain of Youth is more myth than fact, excavation at the archaeological park in St. Augustine revealed a bit of the area's true history. Features (the wonderful word!) uncovered in the park lead Carl to this debate: do they indicate a mission era granary? or a sentry post associated with Pedro Menendez's 1565 encampment? Carl leans toward the mission era granary, but only continued excavation can help shape the answer.

Plaza de la ConstituciĆ³n: After locating features (!) in the Fall of 2009, Carl returned to define the shape and size of the structures. The sequence of structures date to the early 1600s.

2010 provided the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) many treasures. Unlike the gold and other pirate booty many people imagine maritime archaeologists would find, these archaeological treasures are infinitely more interesting:

A colonial shipwreck off St. Augustine's coast yielded a cauldron, thousands of lead shot, ballasts stones, wood planks, among other artifacts. Watch footage of the cauldron raising and see if you can spot the crab the LAMP team brought up.

X-ray technology revealed an 18th century flintlock pistol embedded in concretion from the same colonial shipwreck. The decorated gentleman's pistol, along with other artifacts recovered from the wreckage may indicate 18th century cargo coming to St. Augustine.

Photo compliments of LAMP
Have no fear! FPAN Northeast stayed busy in order to bring archaeology to the public this year!
Packed with workshops, 2010 expanded our impact beyond Florida. With a great turnout, FPAN hosted a Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter workshop on Cumberland Island, Georgia. On the beautiful island where horses roam free, teachers learned how to incorporate archaeology into their lesson plans through hands on activities.

FPAN also hosted Public Day at Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville. Intended to allow the public to see real archaeologists working at a real site, Public Day 2010 was a great success! Additionally, FPAN revealed our Virtual Florida Fieldtrips videos, now posted on YouTube, at Public Day.

Keep digging our feature(!) updates in 2011!

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