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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 2015

Field Notes: Garden Patch Site – Archaeology in a Forest of Thorns (no really, thorns).

Hidden in thorn-laden underbrush and woods, guarded by mosquitoes and snakes, about 2 miles inland in the Big Bend of Florida, is a wonderful site called Garden Patch. Two weeks ago, Kevin and I, from East Central, were lucky enough to go out and assist Neill Wallis and Paulette McFadden on this site. Dr. Wallis is out of the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH) and Dr. McFadden is a recent PhD out of the University of Florida, now a postdoctoral associate at FLMNH. Originally documented by C.B. Moore over 100 years ago, Dr. Wallis and Dr. McFadden have been working this site for the past few years and have already completed shovel testing and some excavation at the site's mounds and village areas (Wallis and McFadden, 2013, 2014; Wallis et al 2015). They have also investigated nearby island sites to understand the impact of environmental change, especially sea level rise on prehistoric people in Florida, and how these factors affected decisions of where to live (McFadden 2014).

To the untrained eye, this site may be just a few mounds, but it is proving to be pretty important to understanding Florida's Middle Woodland period (ca. AD100-500) prehistory! Among other things (Wallis and McFadden, 2013, 2014; Wallis et al 2015), archaeology at Garden Patch is demonstrating the rapid human development of this area, and the process the people who lived there used to change the landscape. The really cool part is that the pattern they see at Garden Patch, is the same process as other sites further north, like the large site of Kolomoki  in southwest Georgia (Wallis et al 2015).
Kevin and I were there to learn more about the site, and to assist in some remote sensing, conducted by Dr. Victor Thompson from the University of Georgia. While FPAN is not geared towards conducting our own research, we are able to assist on projects!

 GPR scanning in foreground with Total Station mapping in the background.

Now, you archaeology types may already know this, but almost nothing works out the way you expect when you're doing archaeology. Cars break down, people get sick, and my goodness does the weather love to change plans. We had an incredibly successful weekend of GPR, resistivity, and magneticgradiometer survey, with some mapping using a Total Station (stay tuned for a blog introducing the Total Station and why archaeologists love them so much). But there were, of course, complications.

Our first day out (FPAN's first day, the rest of the crew already logged a full day before we arrived) we had a massive rainstorm that soaked all of us to the bone. There was lightning and thunder, strong gusts of wind, and it was all we could do to shelter our precious equipment and get it into the vehicle safely. We made it out, but the rest of our day was spent indoors, going over the GPR data Dr. Thompson was able to collect before the rains came.

As determined archaeologists on a schedule, we were up the next morning and back at it. Dr. Thompson did some magnetic gradiometer survey while we helped to clear site lines for mapping  (did I mention the thorny vines?).

Dr. Thompson using the magnetic gradiometer. The signal is disturbed by any metal above the surface, which means elastic waist shorts and a t-shirt in the mosquito thick woods. Small sacrifice for such interesting data!

Kevin setting up the Total Station so we could map a mound.

After a hard day's work of scanning and mapping we headed out, unfortunately for us, the water on the trail from previous day's rains got the better of us. Luckily, all of the research was already done!

 That's about 2.5ft of water on a sandy road, the truck was no match.

But we're archaeologists, and this is just part of the story. We pushed and pulled and dug to try and get the truck unstuck, but to no avail (always a sad day when digging isn't the answer). Finally, Matt at FWC came to our rescue, on a Sunday, his day off. Thanks again Matt..

Overall we had an excellent weekend assisting with the Garden Patch site and we can't wait to read future publications from the work Dr. Wallis and Dr. McFadden are doing. If we're lucky, we may even get to go out again and assist them in more fieldwork!

Text and photos: Rachael Kangas, Outreach Assistant, East Central Region.

-McFadden, P.S., 2014. Archaeological Investigations of Threatened Stratified Sites in Horseshoe Cove, Northern Gulf Coast, Florida. The Florida Anthropologist 67(4):179-195.
-Wallis, N.J., McFadden, P.S., 2013. Archaeological Investigations at the Garden Patch site
(8DI4), Dixie County, Florida. Miscellaneous Report No. 63, Division of Anthropology,
FloridaMuseum of Natural History. University of Florida, Gainesville.
-Wallis, N.J.,McFadden, P.S., 2014. Suwannee Valley Archaeological Field School 2013: The Garden Patch Site (8DI4). Miscellaneous Report No. 64, Division of Anthropology, Florida Museum of Natural History. University of Florida, Gainesville.
-Wallis, N.J., McFadden, P.S., Singleton, H.M., 2015. Radiocarbon dating the pace of monument construction and village aggregation at Garden Patch: A ceremonial center on the Florida Gulf Coast. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 2: 507-516.

Diving for Cultural Heritage

We've been working hard on our diving program at our office to bring folks in our area more resources and programming about underwater sites. Here's some updates from the field...underwater!

Kevin and myself diving in Biscayne National Park.
Safety first! We headed to Pensacola in July to get our yearly swim test and dive check out. We also did some pretty fun entanglement training.

Sarah pre- and post dive in Pensacola.

In August, we helped out several other centers to offer a Submerged Sites Education and Archaeological Stewardship course at Biscayne National Park. The program trains sports divers to act as site stewards: recording, monitoring and completing site assessments when they dive on them. We wanted to learn how to offer the training in our area....and check out some of the amazing sites the Park has!
SSEAS attendees mapping a ship in Biscayne National Park.

This week we were back at it! We practiced our own mapping skills at Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest.

Kevin and Rachael practicing baselines and offsets on our created site.

To learn more about sites to dive in Biscayne National Park, check out their Maritime Heritage Trail.

To learn more about diving Alexander Springs for yourself, check out their website.

Stay tuned for some underwater programming coming to an area close to you soon.

Words and images by Emily Jane Murray, FPAN Staff.

Drone News

A Rapidly Changing Airspace

Drones are becoming a polarizing issue.

We recently wrote about the use of UAV's or drones and the laws that apply to them in the United States so far. This post will serve as a quick update to some events that have recently occurred that will have an impact on the future use of drones, ways that they are being applied now, and discuss a few of the other ways drones may help archaeologists.

Recently, the FAA released updated information on incidences of drones affecting manned aircraft flights, especially those entering or leaving airport airspace. With the rapid increase in use among the general public it is becoming apparent that public outreach and education about maintaining the safety of our airspace is necessary. A step in this direction is the FAA release of the B4UFLY app being beta-tested at the moment. This app should allow for better interaction between the FAA and the public regarding the safe use of drones. We can expect to see this app, or something like it, as one of the primary means of keeping drones away from manned aircraft in the future. The FAA has also created two executive level positions to manage the integration of drones into U.S. airspace, a sure sign that the use of drones is expected to become the rule instead of the exception in years to come. All of this points to a trend of integration into our daily lives and, for us, a managed avenue forward for use in archaeological investigations on a regular basis! 
Australian lifeguards will use drones for search and rescue. This wasn't mentioned in the blog post, but look at them. Just look at what they're wearing. That's hilarious. 

As we previously discussed, archaeologists are increasingly finding uses for drones in field work. Drones are able to collect mountains of data in a relatively quick amount of time and with minimal human power required to operate. One of the most important uses for drones right now is in recording the destruction of sites in the Middle East due to on-going combat and the purposeful destruction of cultural resources by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Concurrent with the issues throughout the region is the increased instance of looting by many different groups. Archaeologists in countries near areas of unrest are using drones to manage sites safely and from a distance, such as the archaeologists working to protect cultural resources in Jordan, sites already beset with looting. Drones are also being used to create visual documentation of the destruction of many of these cultural sites. We can expect to see a great deal more of this information making its way into future archaeological research for this region of the world. For now, drones are one of the best tools available to archaeologists to preserve what they can in these circumstances. 
Syria: Krak des Chevaliers in December 2008. Image ©DigitalGlobe | U.S. Department of State, 
By October 2013 the site showed evidence of craters (yellow arrows). ©2014, DigitalGlobe,
Stay tuned for more updates on the growth of drone use by archaeologists and those working to preserve cultural resources!

Text: Kevin Gidusko
1. http://web.alternet.org/comics/alternet-comics-matt-davies-amazons-drones
2. http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=f9bb2ebf-f57c-4bfa-9a14-702822fe103a
3. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/surf-life-savers-to-use-unmanned-drones-to-monitor-sharks-swimmers-off-nations-beaches/story-e6frg6nf-1226383590725
4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/middleeast/syria/11468349/Syria-war-Aleppos-heritage-sites-destroyed.html

Slavery and Gaming: Investigating a Tabby Slave Cabin Online Investigation

A descendant of Easter Bartley, born enslaved at Kingsley Plantation, begins our investigation.

This week cries of outrage and deserved disgust with a game called Playing History: Slave Trade 2 circulated around the internet, and I myself contributed by sharing the "Teachers and Gamers Agree: 'Slave Tetris' It's How You Educate Kids About Slavery" post from TakePart's digital magazine (and I'd do it again!). Slavery should not be the subject of a game, I immediately thought. As the day went on the the comments bounced back and forth, it seemed we all agreed this was a giant misstep but there exists the potential for thoughtful, well developed games on the subject. Why can't game developers work with archaeologists, historians, descendants, and interpreters to work out thoughtful ways to help students understand the lives of those enslaved? Why can't they show objects made and used by slaves to give a better understanding of what life on a plantation entailed? This game was from the slave traders perspective, why can't another game take the position of a family of enslaved people? Then today the thought hit me...

Wait, we already have a game that does this.

Only we don't call it a game. We call it an Online Investigation and it is one of the tools available for teachers and students who use our Project Archaeology: Investigating a Tabby Slave Cabin curriculum. (Note: this does not illustrate the Investigation in it's entirety but representative screen caps of the whole)

The Online Investigation is divided into 5 parts with various levels of interactivity. Part 1 "Meet Mrs. Deborah Bartley-Wallace..." is from the student handbook and includes images from the text. It also includes text on the environmental history of Fort George Island, flora and fauna in the estuary, and considers what building materials would be available to construct shelters.

The next section "History of tabby slave cabin" increases the interaction as students can take a closer look a historic photographs and primary resources related to slaves and their descendants. More background information from the student and teacher handbooks is provided with an emphasis on sacred traditions that reflect the slaves multiple African origins. Not to put it simply, the text describes different cultures and origins of the traditions from various locations in west Africa.

Then the investigation begins. In Part 3 of the Online piece, students must first understand site formation processes, how the footprint and postholes archaeologists find relate to a previously standing structure.

Then the footprint of a tabby slave cabin, a conglomerate based on authentic data from three cabins excavated by the University of Florida's summer field school directed by Dr. James Davidson, is divided into quadrants. The artifacts introduced in class are illustrated and their location appears on the planview of the cabin. Then each quadrant is presented as an opportunity for students to uncover (via hovering trowel cursor) the context of where the artifact was found. The data then appears to the right with artifact, number, and location recorded.

It isn't enough to just find things, the artifacts must related back to what they have learned about the lives of those enslaved at Kingsley, drawing from environmental and cultural factors learned over the 8 previous lessons. In this screen cap the focus is on blue beads and iron objects, moreover the context of where they are found adds to our understanding of perceived intentional placement and human behavior.

The interactive components drop off for the next section that discusses how NPS manages these delicate ruins, steps to preserve the standing and buried portions of the site, and when tied in with the classroom curriculum a very powerful conversation about the importance of descendants, importance of preserving archaeological sites, and why specifically preservation of sites of slavery are important to all of us.

Added for the Online and not as much a part of the in-class curriculum is Part 5, this measuring activity that has the students consider the greater plantation with attention to layout details.

The downside: very few people use the Online Investigation. Currently it is password protected an available only to those who have attended a Project Archaeology workshop or purchased Project Archaeology's Investigating Shelter guide on the Project Archaeology website. The curriculum itself (student and teacher handbooks) is free and posted on the NPS Timucuan Preserve website.  Analytic data are not available but I would hazard to guess fewer than 100, if even 20 people have clicked on the site to use this feature of the curriculum. Half of the 20 would be me to take screen caps to share in workshops or blogs such as this one. I can't publish the password but if interested in viewing please contact me with a formal request.

In a recent poster presented at the Society for American Archaeology in San Francisco in celebration of 25 years of Project Archaeology, folks marveled at my fabric poster (it was fancy!) but what they didn't see was my clear confession that the Multiplier Effect of archaeologists teaching teachers to teach students is not working, at least not in Florida and not with the Investigating Shelter curriculum. This was my conclusion:
From a quantitative perspective, the “Multiplier Effect” (Selig 1991) of training teachers to teach students is not reaching its full potential in Florida. Very few teachers go on to use “Investigating a Tabby Slave Cabin” in the classroom, an issue compounded by data gaps given the difficulties in tracking teachers after the workshop. Also of concern is the number of active facilitators and that so few even within FPAN have gone on to hold independent workshops. Sustainability of the Florida program thus far depends on full-time employment, by FPAN or NPS, and the two graduates from the Leadership Academy [Sarah Bennett and Lianne Bennett] who have demonstrated tireless dedication at their own expense. The qualitative impacts are difficult to measure, but as an opportunity to raise the archaeological literacy of teachers and the educational literacy of archaeologists, the outcomes are worth the effort. 
Why is this important to gaming? To develop well-thought, sensitive, and educationally relevant materials it takes training teachers to use them, or at least how to present them to formal and informal audiences. Beyond Project Archaeology, I have yet to see our best developed "games" and resources be used to their full potential. These resources exist, but they are either not available broadly, widely, nor marketed in the "download the app now!" world we live in.

My raging questions from the day before are transformed. Yes we can teach students about slavery and help them understand components of this complex (and ongoing!) issue with sensitivity and understanding. What resources already exist that we are not using? Is it that the format is out of date? It is possible to transform these well developed Shelter investigations into a game format or app?

And finally, as some of you may be wondering, is the Online Investigation even a game? Parts of it are interactive. It's pretty spoon fed, but then it's based on authentic data and was never intended to be competitive with other players. I went down a wormhole trying to decide if it's a game, or interactive non-fiction, or interactive art (to join me in the wormhole see this discussion on Journey in the Guardian). It probably falls more solidly in the interactive website realm, but I'm stubbornly clinging to one of Merriam-Webster's definitions of game: a procedure or strategy for gaining an end. The Enduring Understanding of this lesson is: What can we learn about the history and lives of enslaved people by investigating a tabby cabin? Could it be argued that to meet our stated end the Online Investigation is indeed a game? One that helps teachers to engage students in understanding slavery through archaeological inquiry?

At least it's a start. If you know of another resource you can recommend, please post below. If you have an idea about how to recycle, reuse, or improve existing archaeology-based materials to develop appropriate games to aid in understanding slavery, please also post those ideas below.

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff

Images: Online Investigation "Investigating a Tabby Slave Cabin" developed by Montana State University as part of a National Park Service grant. The Kingsley curriculum uses the Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter template developed by Project Archaeology. The Kingsley Teacher Guide and Student Handbook was developed in true partnership with the National Park Service's Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve staff and Teacher-Ranger-Teachers (TRT), University of Florida's Dr. James Davidson, and staff including Amber Grafft-Weiss at the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Image credits can be found within the Investigation are are mostly attributed to NPS staff and archives, Dr. James Davidson, and Florida Memory Project.

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