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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 May 2016

St. Augustine Lighthouse: Boat Launch & Wrecked Exhibit

May 5th was a big night for the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. A few weeks ago, the Lighthouse Park hosted the boat launch of the 1790s recreation of a British Yawl. Named “Heart of Oak," the Yawl was constructed by the Heritage Boatworks volunteers and was sent out for its inaugural voyage on the docks across from the lighthouse. 

Staff members and visitors gathered to watch the boat receive a traditional blessing with wine and salt. The crowd was invited to throw salt onto the boat before it was lowered into the water and sent off on its first journey captained by a team of rowers.
After the Yawl boat was launched on her maiden voyage, the Lighthouse began its grand opening for its new exhibit, Wrecked! 

Staff from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, and the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) have been working hard for years to bring artifacts from a shipwreck to the public eye. The shipwreck dates to the era of the American Revolution. The boat contained British loyalists who were fleeing Charleston and wrecked their ship on a sandbar off our coast.
Christopher McCarron dressed for the occasion
They tried the best they could to salvage the ship, but in the end they had to abandon ship. The new exhibit can be seen in the Keeper’s house, which has been completely redesigned to accompany the new exhibit. Artifacts include cauldrons, a gold coin, buttons, and a four pounder cannon. Staff have been working on restoration of these artifacts for years. Including the time when I first visited the lighthouse in 2013, and it brought up a bit of nostalgia seeing them on display for the first time. A large amount of people showed up in support of the new exhibit and I was glad I could be a part of it. Wrecked is now open to the public and is great for all ages, so go to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and check it out!
Text and images by Megan Liebold, FPAN Staff.

FAS 2016 Poster Presentation, East Central Region

In Case You Missed It!

We just got back from the 68th Annual Florida Anthropological Society Meeting in Jupiter, Florida. It was a great time, great to catch up on all the amazing research happening around the state, and great to share some of what we've been working on as well! The East Central Region submitted a research poster for the conference covering the use of aerial and terrestrial photogrammetry in cultural resource documentation. You can check it out below.

While this research used historic cemeteries as the type of resource to be documented, there is an increasing awareness of the applicability of photogrammetry and other 3D modeling techniques to archaeological research. We will be talking about this in future blogs, but in the meantime you can join the conversation at a facebook page those of us working in this medium have created: 3D Public Archaeology Working Group.

Text and Images: Kevin Gidusko

Conversations About Conferences: SAA 2016

We recently attended the Society for American Archaeology in April. It was luckily right in our backyard at Disney World! Sarah and Emily Jane sat down to talk about Emily Jane's first experience at this conference...

SM: What did you expect in attending SAA 2016 conference?

EJM: This was my first SAA - and from what everyone has told me, I expected to be overwhelmed by the size of the conference. The listing of papers and session was at least inch thick without abstracts! I expected it to be packed with so many archaeologists that I wouldn't know anyone. I also expected to be overwhelmed with papers and session that were out of my wheel-shed - things that wouldn't quite help me serve the public in Florida.

SM: What did you hope to get out of it?

EJM: I've participated in local, state and regional archaeology organizations for several years. I wanted to see what the community was like at the national level. What conversations are happening? What are some of the big concerns we're trying to deal with? And how does my little piece of the world fit into this?

SM: What did you actually learn?

EJM: Our field is actually a lot smaller than I realized, and we're all working towards similar things - especially when it comes to public archaeology. It was nice to hear from folks across the country (and the world!) to see what worked for them and what they're still trying to figure out. I heard a lot about issues with bad legislation, problems with getting wider audiences involved and examples of projects that are trying to deal with climate change and sea level rise. All of these are issues we face at FPAN quite often. Even if no one in the room had an answer, it was still nice to have some solidarity in our work.

SM: What was the hardest part of attending SAA?

EJM: This might sound a little bit goofy, but living in a hotel for so long! I was there from Tuesday to Sunday. Eating out adds up, being at sessions and meetings wears on you, and it's hard to find a little space for yourself in all of that. I ended up packing a bunch of snacks and hiding out in my room over lunch - which helped with all three!

SM: So we attend a lot of conferences in a year - what from this SAA will you bring back to the public for their benefit?

Panel on advocacy and engaging citizens politically organized by two of FPAN's board members.
EJM: I was really inspired by some of the advocacy issues I heard - from engaging voters to handling climate change issues. One of the biggest things I realized when it comes to climate change is that it has so many impacts. We've been trying to talk to people about sea level rise, but really that's just one small part of what could happen. I also met a lot of people that I think will help us bring even more great resources and programs to the people in Florida.

SM: What sessions/activities did you take part in?

In the big scary room presenting my paper!
EJM: I attended the Project Archaeology meeting and a panel on advocacy in archaeology as well as sessions on Florida archaeology, public archaeology and climate change. I tried to tweet some overarching points the various presenters made on @FPANLive - you can check out some of the twitter chatter by using #SAA2016 as well. On Friday afternoon, I presented a paper with Dr. Keith Ashley at UNF on work I've helped with at the Mill Cove Complex in Jacksonville. (Check out my blog post on the analysis of pottery from the project.) I also spent some time in the book room talking about FPAN and Project Archaeology. And I sat in on a meeting with a video game company that FPAN is looking to partner with. And... I visited the Indiana Jones bar at Downtown Disney. Busy week!
SM: Anything that surprised you?

EJM: I ran into far more people that I knew than I expected to! And I even found connections between some of my far-flung archaeology friends. I had several six-degrees-of-Emily-Jane moments.

SM: Got plans for next year’s conference?

EJM: We'll see. It's in Vancouver so it's a bit tough on logistics. I might stick with my Florida and Southeast conferences for a few years, though we do have some exciting programming we're starting in August (Stay tuned for the big announcement!). It'll be great to share that with my colleagues at the national level once we have some good data and examples of that!

Words and images by Emily Jane Murray and Sarah Miller, FPAN Staff.

Project Archaeology: Investigating a Light Station

"By our houses they will know us." -Kickapoo saying 

How can investigating a light station help us understand the culture of keepers and their families?

This question is central to the new Project Archaeology: Investigating a Light Station curriculum guide. We are looking for teachers, educators, and other archaeologists willing to be part of our two day pilot workshop June 18th and 19th, 2016. Workshop will be facilitated by FPAN staff, the curriculum writers, and hosted by the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.

Teachers will be introduced to the Investigating Shelter curriculum, take part in the hands-on lessons that demonstrate basic skills in archaeology that can be done in any classroom, and be the first to delve into the new lighthouse materials.

This project was made possible by a grant from Florida's Department of State. Funding from the grant will cover all materials therefore the workshop is free! The curriculum guide will be available nationwide this summer on the Project Archaeology website. If you are interested in hosting a future workshop at your school or museum, contact your local Florida Public Archaeology Network office.

For more information and links to registration click here!

Text: Sarah Miller, FPAN staff.
Images: graphic design by Ashley Miller using images courtesy of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum compiled by Lianne and Sarah Bennett.

Bioarchaeology: A Body of Knowledge (Part II)

Bioarchaeology: A Body of Knowledge

Part II

A replica skull uncovered from Windover Pond. Photo Credit: Rik Jesse, Florida Today. www.usatoday.com
Welcome back! The last post in this blog series broadly introduced the subfield of archaeology known as bioarchaeology (the study of human remains in archaeological contexts) and the kinds of information that can be gained from these types of investigations. You can read the first post here. This post will follow along with the same theme, but will focus on what happens prior to analysis, during the discovery and excavation. To take a look at these processes, we will check out a unique local bioarchaeological excavation – Windover Pond (also known as “Windover Bog”).

Site Marker at Windover Pond www.waymarking.com
            In some cases, bioarchaeologists are already working in an area where they expect or know they will encounter skeletons – for example, in an ancient tomb or cemetery, or in an on-going excavation at an ancient site. In other cases, skeletons are found by accident. This is what happened at Windover Pond in Titusville, Florida. In 1982, a backhoe operator found bones while digging in a pond as part of preparing for a new residential neighborhood. The developers followed the correct protocol – they called the police right away. Once the remains were investigated by the proper authorities, it was determined that the remains were not recent, and the developers called archaeologists from Florida State University to further investigate the site1.

Excavation at the Windover Site; Photo credit: Glen Doran; www.PBS.org
            The Windover Pond site is extremely unique, and it received world-wide attention. Here, archaeologists discovered over 168 burials that dated to approximately 6,280 B.C. It is extremely rare to find bones that are 5,000 years old or older2, and  these burials occurred 3,500 years before the Egyptian Pyramids were built1!  There are several factors that affect the preservation of buried bone; the most influential of which are: moisture, temperature, and soil composition3. In the case of the Windover Site, the unique environment of the pond is credited with the amazing preservation: neutral pH, high sulfer levels, highly mineralized water, and an anerobic (no-oxygen) peat environment2
Windover Pond Excavation www.myfloridahistory.org
            Each excavation is different. Bioarchaeologists must carefully assess the site and the condition and preservation of the remains before they can excavate. They must also be sure they are adhering to political and legal constraints related to the site. Some excavations are straightforward, and simply involve careful exposure, recording, and collection, while others require complex strategies4.

The excavation at Windover Pond. Photo credit: Glen Doran; www.PBS.org
            The archaeologists at the Windover Site were tasked with a complex excavation. Because the site was in a pond, the archaeologists had to install a water pumping system to drain the area. The pump removed thousands of gallons of water every hour1. Excavated materials and skeletal remains had to be carefully conserved on site. The archaeologists quickly discovered that although the bone looked solid, it was actually extremely fragile; once the bone began to dry, it began to warp and break. To avoid this, the archaeologists came up with a conservation method that required keeping the bones saturated, and then treating them with special compounds to keep them from deteriorating 3. The artifacts recovered from the site, such as preserved cloth and wood, also needed special conservation treatments 4.

A cast reconstruction of a burial from Windover Pond. www.myfloridahistory.org
            The actual removal of the bones from the ground is one of the last steps in a meticulous recovery process that includes careful exposure, photography, and documentation. If the bones were removed right away, important information related to the context of the burial would be lost; archaeologists meticulously record every piece of information, from the position of the body to the artifacts that are associated with it 5.

At the Windover Bog site, archaeologists were careful to record everything, and this resulted in a wealth of information about the population. For example, thirty-one types of foods and medicinal plants were recovered from the site, allowing for archaeologists to partially reconstruct diet and cultural practices. The botanical evidence also helped the team to know that the site was in use in late summer and early fall – the time when these plants were ripe and available to consume2. Later, archaeologists would combine this information with the results of laboratory analysis on the skeletons to create a more complete diet reconstruction. Together, context and analysis were able to provide a very detailed look into archaic Florida.

Once the site was properly exposed, documented, and excavated, the skeletal remains (and artifacts and ecofacts) were sent to laboratories for further analysis, and the site itself was restored to being a pond. The archaeologists at Windover excavated approximately ½ of the pond over three field seasons; the rest was left untouched to conserve the site1 .

Windover Pond: archive.archaeology.org
As you can see, bioarchaeology is a lot more than digging up bones. It’s a careful scientific process that can be complicated by a number of situations. The Windover Bog site required quick-thinking and engineering to prepare the area for excavation, and the skeletal material had to be carefully recorded and conserved. Although laboratory analysis is helpful, the information archaeologists gather in context with the excavation provides a more complete look into the past. Without carefully recording the botanical remains (eco-facts) found in conjunction with the bodies, the laboratory analysis would have only offered a partial dietary reconstruction.

Mural of the Windover Pond excavation at Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science. Image credit: ISpaceCoastDaily.com
Thanks for stopping in to read a bit about a local bioarchaeological excavation! If you want to learn more about the Windover Site, you can check out the references used here, or you can visit the official Windover Pond Exhibit at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science in Cocoa, Florida.

Works Cited: 

1. Tyson, Peter. “America’s Bog People.” Nova. PBS, 07 Feb 2006. Web. 5 May 2016.

2. Wentz, Rachel Kathleen. “A Bioarchaeological Assessment of Health from Florida’s Archaic: Application of the Western Hemisphere Health Index to the Remains from Windover.” Diss. University of Florida, 2006. Web. 5 May 2016. http://fsu.digital.flvc.org/islandora/object/fsu%3A175745

3. Stone, Tammy T, Dickel David N, and Glen H. Doran. “The Preservation and Conservation of Waterlogged Bone from the Windover Site, Florida: A Comparison of Methods.” Journal of Archaeology. 17:2 (1990): 177-186. Web. 5 May 2016. 

4. Adovasio J.M., Andrews R.L., Hyland D.C., and J.S. Illingworth. “Perishable Industries from the Windover Bog: An Unexpected Window into the Florida Archaic.” North American Archaeologist. 22:1 (2001): 1-90. Web. Research Gate. 5 May 2016.

5. White, Tim D, and Pieter A. Folkens. The Human Bone Manual. Boston: Elsevier 2005. Print.


Meet Megan, Northeast Region's new Intern!

Hello! My name is Megan Liebold and I am the new intern for FPAN’s Northeast region!
Me at the Mill Top Excavation in St. Augustine

 I graduated from UCF in 2011 with a BA in Anthropology. While searching for jobs, I started working for a funeral home in Orlando. I stayed at the funeral home for 3 years doing everything from secretary work to picking up decedents and taking them to our morgue. I worked directly under two funeral directors and learned a lot about burial law and got my first taste in cemetery protection and management. I first encountered FPAN in March 2015 when Sarah Miller came to Orlando to do a lecture on Ceramics. 
I also dragged my Mum along with me!

I continued to find FPAN events around Florida becoming more interested in getting back into archaeology and volunteering. I moved to Flagler Beach later that year in August to work for Florida Hospital Flagler. I had wanted to move up to this area ever since I had graduated to be closer to St. Augustine because I loved the city and all of its history. I participated in FPAN's CRPT course in December and started volunteering locally at Tolomato and San Sebastian cemeteries doing restoration and recording.
Palm Cemetery in Ft. Pierce

 I also became scuba certified in the hopes of eventually learning how to do scientific dives. I strived to be as active as I could as a community volunteer and became a member of the Archaeological Institute of America and more locally, the St. Augustine Archaeological Association. With the help of the SAAA I was able to spend some time volunteering at the Mill Top dig site on St. George Street. I was overjoyed to be contacted about an intern position with the Florida Public Archaeology Network. I am excited to begin my journey working more closely with FPAN and will continue to be active in the archaeological community of North East Florida. In the future I plan to return to UCF to study archaeology for my master’s degree. I am specifically interested in forensics and the preservation of historical sites. I am ecstatic to be part of the team and to see what lies ahead!

Text and photos by: Megan Liebold, FPAN Staff

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