Monday, March 11, 2013

We kicked off Florida Archaeology Month 2013 with two of our favorites: site excavation and students!  After working extensively with the City of Palatka and the Putnam County Historical Society, we planned two days of shovel test excavations for the open space in front of the Bronson-Mulholland House.  After a day of initial test excavations, we were ready to bring in the public!

Day 1 

We hosted fourth grade students.  Interlachen Elementary treated 108 students to a field trip to Sunny Point, where they spent two hours with FPAN staff and a fantastic cadre of volunteers to learn all about archaeology and the local past.  They arrived on site at 9:45 and divided into four groups.  Each group visited the four stations we had set up, spending about a half-hour at each.

The stations were:

Digging and Screening
Interlachen Elementary 4th-grade students excavate take turns digging a shovel test and screening for artifacts.

Field Skills
Students practice measure 5 meters in steps, a skill often used to lay out shovel tests.

Working in teams to set up 1meter x 1meter units.

Museum Tour and Music
Students took a guided tour of the Putnam Historic Museum to learn about people who lived in Palatka and Putnam County in the past. Photo courtesy of Ken Badgley.

Lee Pinkerson treated them to songs about Timucuans and other parts of Florida history.

Prehistoric Weaponry
The final station let students learn about prehistory hunting technology and try their hands at using an atl-atl to throw spears.

We packed a lot into those two hours, but the students had a great time.  The teacher who coordinated the trip was quite pleased with the learning opportunities, from the science and math of conducting fieldwork to social studies lessons about the near and distant local past.  

Fourth graders of Interlachen Elementary pose with FPAN staff, our faithful volunteers, and the FAM 2013 poster.

Day 2

We opened the dig up to the public! It was chilly out, but many who came out stayed for the entire day! 

People of all ages joined us to continue shovel testing on the site.

Several families joined us for all parts of the process, including screening dirt for artifacts.

They even helped with the unglamorous work--backfilling shovel tests once they've been recorded!

During the two-day event, we worked with volunteers, students, and the public to excavate 63 shovel tests.  We found evidence the people who lived in Palatka's long and storied past, from St. Johns pottery (a Timucuan ceramic) to historic building materials.  As is typical for archaeological investigations, FPAN will submit a letter report to the City of Palatka once we finish cataloging artifacts and analyzing our finds. 

Text by: Amber Grafft-Weiss
Photos by FPAN Staff unless otherwise noted.

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