Friday, June 8, 2018

Hi, I'm Emily Dietrich, but everyone calls me Emma! I am extremely excited about getting on the road and engaging local Floridians about the East Central's archaeology, history, and heritage! To further introduce myself, here is the tale of how I got into archaeology. 

I knew I wanted to be an archaeologist by the time I was 6. My mother boasts that she "drug me to every historic home, battlefield, and museum along the East Coast", and for the most part that is true! She also accidentally introduced me to archaeology and public archaeology for the very first time at St. Mary's Historic City, Maryland.

Little Emma on the Dove in St. Mary's Historic city circa 1998
Little Emma at SMHC
Excavations were happening around the 1667 Chapel in search of the graves of Maryland's first colonists. The cemetery records and grave markers were long lost, and the archaeologists were looking to find and record the burials. What they ended up finding were distinct eras of Chapel where graves were crisscrossed, stacked a few feet above older graves, and arranged in any direction. The investigation of these 17th century burial practices would produce years of reports, articles, and books. To a 6 year old, it was people digging holes and finding cool stuff.

Just seeing the excavations sparked my interest, but thankfully I had a little more help solidifying my future career. One of the archaeologists (who I wish I could meet and shake their hand!) saw my enthusiasm and passed off one of his brushes and let me "assist" in the excavation. Slowly bushing away the soil, I knew I wanted to be an archaeologist.

Big Emma at Joseph Priestly
House Museum, PA
I continued to peruse archaeology as a young adult working in local museums in Northumberland, PA and Gettysburg, PA, and always keeping up with the historical vacations. 

I received my B.A. from Mercyhurst University concentrating in Archaeology and Sociocultural Anthropology. Where I learned I really wanted to share my love of archaeology with people, not just do the excavations. I was interested in creating the spark for someone else, just as someone did for me 20 years ago.  

I am currently attempting to do that. I came to Florida in 2014 to the University of West Florida to get my Master's degree and to work with the Florida Public Archaeology Network. For the past 3 years I was a graduate assistant with the Coordinating Center in Pensacola working on public outreach in the Panhandle and my thesis research. 

For my thesis research I have been working with the Milton High School Archaeology Project since 2015 developing the curriculum for teaching archaeology in high school. The program is a partnership between Santa Rosa County School Board and FPAN where the archaeology portion of an Anthropology/Florida History elective is taught at a privately owned archaeological site along the Blackwater River. The students learn the entire process of archaeology, from transcribing historical documents, excavations, to maritime surveys, and museum exhibit installation. 

Students of the MHS Archaeology Project in 2016 with the installation of
 Janene Johnston's museum exhibit on archaeology at Natural Bridge Battle Field. 

In the East Central office I am going to attempt to fill Kevin's very large shoes (and fins) and learn more about the maker space he developed and continue FPAN's legacy of 3D modeling the region. At the same time, I am eager to combine my interests of public education, history, archaeology, diving, and ocean conservation to create programming for the East Central Region. I am looking forward to getting out and the region and learning all that I can (and finding a few new breweries)!

Hope to see you on the road!

Just for fun- here is a photo of Tiny Emma terrified of sand... 
And she would become an archaeologist?

Text and Photos by FPAN Staff: Emma Dietrich

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