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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 April 2015

Beads and Archaeology

We recently hosted our first Archaeology Works: Beads Workshop at the New Smyrna Museum of History. Just in case you missed it, here's five important things to know about beads in the archaeological record!

1) Beads are found a lots of different sites.

From prehistoric middens to 19th century trash pits, beads are found at site throughout time. Some of the earliest beads in Florida date to the Paleoindian Period. They are tiny stone beads found in spring sites in the Apalachicola Bay area. We continue to find beads in trash pits, cemeteries, structural remains and more throughout Florida's history.

These shell beads from Windover Pond in Titusville are almost 7,500 years old!
Archaeologists found glass beads in the cabins of slaves at Kingsley Plantation during the early 1800s.

Pedro Menendez brought these glass beads with him to St. Augustine in 1565.

2) Beads are made from lots of different materials.

As beads were made in different places at different times, they're also made from all sorts of materials: bone, stone, glass, wood, seeds and more! The material can be clues to the time and place of the beads manufacturing, as well as tell a lot about the people who made and used them.

These bone beads are also from the Fountain of Youth site, St. Augustine.
Shell and shark's tooth beads I helped uncovered at Mill Cove Complex, a Mississipian site in Jacksonville.
3) Beads can tell us about trade and culture.

Shell beads are found at Cahokia, far from their coastal source. Glass beads traveled with the Spanish, British and French to the America and Africa. Beads can help archaeologists uncover how people and objects moved around the world!

Some of the earliest trade beads include chervons (top left). Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine.

4) Glass beads can be very complicated to study.

Glass beads have subtle differences based on how they were made. Archaeologists try to determine how beads where made to help them decipher when and where they were made. Certain trends and techniques can be traced back to glass shops.

Molded bead classification guide from Kidd and Kidd, 1970.
Drawn bead classification guide from Kidd and Kidd, 1970.

5) Beads are a unique personal item.

 Beads can represent social status, religious practices and even economics of the past. People still treasure items like this today, and trying to tease this out in the past can be difficult but always very rewarding.

Selected beads from the cemetery at Mission Santa Catalina de Guale on St. Catherine's Island, GA.

Text and some photos by Emily Jane Murray, FPAN Staff. Other artifact photos courtesy of the University of Florida, the Florida Museum of Natural History, Parks Canada and the American Museum of Natural History.

Archaeology and Earth Day!

Earth day has its beginnings at a UNESCO conference, held in San Francisco in the year 1969. There, it was proposed that we should celebrate peace, the earth, her environment, and foster programs and outreach to promote environmentally-sound development for future generations.

Lets keep it this way! (I feel like I used this image in a separate blog... hmm) 

It was initially proposed that earth day be celebrated on March 21, 1970 as the first day of the spring equinox, and so that came to pass. However, in the United States, this date shifted to April 22 just one month later, because a national programs coordinator held a massive environmental teach-in day, also called earth day. By 1990 this same man, Dennis Hayes, took environmental programming international and Earth Day has been celebrated in many corners of the globe on April 22 ever since.

Although Earth Day is rooted in the natural environment, archaeology--as the study of past human beings--is inextricably linked to the natural environment. So, we've just as many reasons to care about how people have affected our environment over many thousands of years!!

Archaeologists have celebrated Earth Day by highlighting different aspects of human culture:

One way we have connected humans affect on the environment is through recycling and the study of modern trash--Garbology. Archaeologists learn much from studying past human refuse deposits, but we can also learn a lot about human behavior from studying modern trash deposits. Events like this one at the Natural History Museum in D.C. are common.

City Landfill, a modern midden!

Another popular way to connect the public with Native history and the natural environment is through archaeology tours and hikes. Guided tours allow the archaeologist an opportunity to explain how natives used the environment around them in their everyday lives, while showcasing habitats directly. Here is an example from California where the public can walk a Native Trail on Earth Day.

An archaeologist at the Randell Research Center in Pineland FL highlights how  Natives altered the local environment

Of course, there are numerous other ways that archaeology is celebrated on earth day. Always check up on our website at  www.fpan.us  to see holiday-themed events! 

Wherever your travels take you this earth day, remember that our natural resources are extremely important, and they're forever tied to our cultural resources as well! 

Text and Images, Ryan Harke. Full Credit to Randell Research Center for Pineland photograph.

Unofficial Women's Archaeology Week!

As Florida Archaeology Month drew to a close I realized that ever year in March we miss out on celebrating Women's History Month. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to celebrate women in Florida archaeology?

Now there is!

We began Unofficial Women's Archaeology Week posts on our Facebook page this week and found no end to the women in Florida archaeology to celebrate. Here are a few from the collective posts. Add your favorite in the comments and we'll try to make in an annual habit--unofficially, that is;)

The image above comes from the post that started it all...spontaneous Kathy Deagan photo contest as we tried to help out a local exhibit in need of her likeness. Visit her virtual St. Augustine exhibit on the Florida Museum of Natural History's website.

Also from FLMNH, we got to meet Barbara Purdy when she came to talk to the St. Augustine Archaeology Association. Another amazing Florida archaeologist!

If you've been to Mission San Luis and liked what you saw, you have Bonnie McEwan to thank!

None of us at FPAN would be here today if it were not for the advocacy efforts of Judy Bense, now President of the University of West Florida.

And two more of our fearless leader in action (I can't resist)!

Rebecca Saunders came to Florida recently to give a lecture on Mission Period archaeology at the Amelia Island Museum of History. Check out parts 1-5 on their YouTube channel!

Last but not least, Nancy White! She contributed to the volume Grit Tempered which is a great place to start if you are interested in learning more about women in archaeology, particularly in the southeast. 

For more information on Grit Tempered check out the book available from University Press of Florida or at your local library.

Why do so many of these pictures look like they are from a PowerPoint presentation? Because they are! Contact us to request a presentation on Famous Florida Women Archaeologists and again leave your comments below with nominations for next year!

Text: Sarah Miller
Images: from Grit Tempered 2: Famous Florida Women Archaeologists presentation for public audiences. Most photos saved from the websites referenced in the intro or on staff webpages at host institutions.

Now...wasn't that better than this:
Angelina Jolie as an...archaeologist?

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