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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 March 2013

UNF Students Visit MOSH's (Museum of Science & History) Exhibit: RACE: Are We So Different?

University of North Florida students visited the Museum of Science & History's (MOSH) exhibit titled,
Race: Are We So Different? in early March 2013. The exhibit is absolutely engaging. It is traveling nationally across the United States and is for all age levels, from the young to the young at heart. The exhibit started at MOSH on January 26 and will continue through April 28. Regular admission price to the museum is $10 for adults and $8 for children, seniors, and the military. On Fridays there are extended hours and the admission price is $5.

UNF students are captivated right away at the exhibit's entrance.

You can walk on this floor map! It says, "We all come from Africa and we've been moving and mixing ever since. Do you know where your ancestors have been?". 

UNF Students.

This part of the exhibit gives the explanation for the variations in skin color.

"Geography-not race-explains skin color variation." Rather, the geography of our past ancestors! This is a close-up photo of the previous panel, one of my favorites in the exhibit. Nina Jablonski, pictured on the far left, is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at Penn State. She authored the book titled, Skin, A Natural History. In 2009 she gave a TED Talk, Breaking the Illusion of Skin Color.

"What do scientists say about race?" This video discusses race and the history of it in the United States.  It is closed captioned and the bottom reads, "American society has created a mythology". Even the  definition  of the race categories on the U.S. Census have changed over time!

"Does color equal race?"

The history of race in the United States begins with colonization in the Age of Exploration.

This panel illustrates the plasticity of racial categories, depending on the country. "Vegetable or fruit? If you are from the U.S., you probably consider the avocado a vegetable and eat  it in a salad with dressing. If you are from Brazil, you think of the avocado as a fruit and eat it for dessert with sugar and lemon juice. Same avocado. Different categories."

Vegetable/Fruit? or "Black or white? If you grew up in the U.S., you would see the people in this photo as either  'black',  'white' or 'mixed'. But if you grew up in Brazil, you would think of the people as follows: (front row) morena, morena excura, mulato claro, and (back row) branco and preto. Same people. Different categories."

"White is a squishy category." There are many interactive activities in the exhibit. This one invites viewers to take a quiz about who is white and who is not. Soon you realize that the answers are relative and indeterminable!

Carl Linneaus is the father of modern biological classification or taxonomy. Basically, he originated the way we classify animals, such as kingdom, phylum, and so on down to species. He included four species of us humans based on race in the 18th century. It was a huge mistake that has ramifications today.

                           Here are more pictures of my fellow classmates enjoying the exhibit:

There is a lecture series to go along with the exhibit that is free and open to the public. Dr. Faye Harrison, a race scholar and University of Florida anthropologist spoke at MOSH on Thursday, February 28, 2013. She helped to create the exhibit. Her talk was titled: Race in the New Millennium and the Age of Obama

UNF students joined Dr. Faye Harrison after her lecture for dinner!

We really enjoyed meeting and speaking with her! It was especially wonderful as we are reading a book of essays she edited titled Decolonizing Anthropology in one of our anthropology classes.

There will be one last speaker in the series, and it is UNF's own Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Melissa Hargrove! It is March 28, 2013 at 6 p.m. Her talk is titled, Through our eyes:Racing and Erasing Art. It is free and open to the public, but preregistration is required. Please visit: http://www.themosh.org/race-keynote.html to reserve your seat.

I hope you get a chance to see the Race: Are we so Different? exhibit at MOSH. Then you can answer the question above for yourself.

A very special thank you to Jacksonville, Florida's Museum of Science and History for allowing me to take photographs and hosting UNF students!
Here are links for more information about the content of this blog:

An album of pictures from Dr. Faye Harrison's lecture by the Florida Times Union on Jacksonville.comhttp://photos.jacksonville.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=1618576&CategoryID=8543

For more on the Race Project, please visit: http://www.understandingrace.org/about/overview.html

Here's a link to an educator's guide for the exhibit. I recommend it for everyone! http://www.themosh.org/race_files/RACE-Educator-Guide.pdf

Finally, here's a link to MOSH about the exhibit: http://www.themosh.org/race.html

Posted by: Jen Knutson, FPAN Intern
Photos courtesy of the Florida Public Archaeology Network

FAM 2013: Favorite Site Spotlight--Fort Mose Historic State Park

I made a quick trip over to Fort Mose today to deliver a batch of Florida Archaeology Month posters. Fort Mose is one of the sites depicted on this year's poster, which highlights the vast diversity illuminated by Florida archaeology.

 While I was there, I took a stroll through the visitor center's interpretive space.  In 2011, interpretation at Fort Mose was updated; it now features interactive, multi-sensory stations, along with gorgeous artistic depictions of life in Spanish Florida. It was so spectacular, in fact, I couldn't keep it to myself.
 Below: a single 3D canvas presents a gorgeous rendering of the contrast between slavery and freedom.

As visitors approach the building, they can stop to read a series of panels that detail the origins and history of Fort Mose.

Panels leading to the visitors center interpret the history of the people living at Fort Mose and the history of the site itself.

Each panel tells a piece of the story; many include low-relief, touchable artifact replicas.

 Once inside, we are enveloped in beautiful artistry and storytelling; state-of-the-art listening stations allow us to hear first-person accounts of escaping slavery and life at Mose.

This station tells about the life of a Fort Mose resident who was, at one time, captured and sold back into slavery.  Visitors can listen to the story standing under the overhead speaker (right side of photo).

Artifact displays throughout the room shed light on the material culture uncovered at the site.   

Continuing through the space, we trace a timeline of northeast Florida's colonial past, and then this:

The holy grail of interpretation for archaeologists: video featuring archaeology legend, Dr. Kathleen Deagan, as she recounts excavating the site. 

The video (complete with captions) shows excavation at Fort Mose as it was taking place, and Dr. Deagan discusses the precision necessary to excavate Fort Mose.  The video is captioned.

Adjacent interpretation focuses on what historical documents revealed about Fort Mose, helping to complete a picture for visitors regarding how we learned what we now understand about life at the first settlement of freed black people in (what is now) the U.S. 

A final stop compares what archaeologists saw in profile at Fort Mose as compared with the Castillo de San Marcos and Hontoon Island (see the close-up of Fort Mose's moat in profile, below right).

These are only snippets and snapshots of the rich and fascinating interpretation at Fort Mose.  If you haven't been yet, go! If you haven't been since the new displays were installed...go! It's entertaining, enriching, and well worth the park fee ($2 per person/children 5 & under free).

Fort Mose is open Thursday through Monday, 9am-5pm. To learn more about the park, visit its website. You can also follow them on Twitter!

What's your favorite site to visit? Is there a site you'd like people to see, whose interpretation tells a crucial, but maybe little-known piece of Florida's story? We want to hear about them!

Text by Amber Weiss
Photos courtesy of the Florida Public Archaeology Network 

Sunny Days

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.

Communicating with the Past: Entry #1, “Privy or a Trash Pit”

Note: this blog post is the first of an ongoing series written by Flagler College History students working on site with St. Augustine's City Archaeologist. You can visit the Flagler Public History blog here.

Located at 31 Cordova Street, the Flagler College Communications building stands as a reminder of the past. This building from the 1950s has served its purpose to the Flagler community, but now it is time to look to the future. During the fall of 2012 the school announced that they would be demolishing the building in order to construct an entirely new, up-to-date learning facility for students and professors. Send in the archaeologists!

As is customary in the nation’s oldest city - due to St. Augustine’s rich and ever-expanding history - whenever there are plans to build downtown, a local ordinance requires the City Archaeologist to excavate. I met with archaeology volunteer Nick McAuliffe at the site to learn more about what the team hopes to uncover, what they had already discovered, and to get a general impression of archaeological digs throughout the city. Nick greeted me and we immediately got to discussing what had already been discovered.

Located a few yards away from the communications building the team had discovered a tabby foundation of some sort, tabby being a form of shell-based concrete. This tabby foundation is believed to be some sort of roadway or the floor of a preexisting structure. There was debate over its purpose and the team had not confirmed a date for when it may have been laid. 

The tabby wall foundation can be seen in this test unit, towards the top.  Photo by Clayton Junkins

Among the other finds were old pottery, tools, and shells, glass, and animals bones. These discoveries prompted the question “is this a privy or a trash pit?” – We will have to wait and see as the dig progresses. City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt and his team of volunteers and experts will continue to excavate the site over the next few months. Volunteers are welcome and encouraged to visit the site.

Volunteers sort through artifacts found in the excavation.  Photo by Clayton Junkins

When I visited the dig site, there had not been much in the way of new discoveries, but it was interesting to learn about the techniques and reasons behind the dig itself. Techniques include using posthole diggers to get an idea of where the best spots to dig would be.

Soil stains that delineate features such as trash pits and wells. Photo courtesy of Moises Sztylerman.

The team then proceeds to dig several holes, called test units, and analyzes the different soil stains located within each hole. The more stains found within a hole the more evidence of human activity at each layer. 

Each layer correlates to a different period of history. The dirt is screened out, and artifacts are collected for later analysis, for each layer and feature.

Shaker screen removes dirt, leaving behinds artifacts such as pottery sherds and this 150-year-old nail.  Photo by Clayton Junkins.

When Carl is satisfied that his team has learned as much as possible in the allotted time, he signs off on the site. This allows construction to continue with the minimum of delay.

See the St. Augustine Record article for the latest update on this site.

Text by Clayton Junkins

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