Upcoming Graduate Student Research Presentations from the UK to VA

By: Genevieve Everett

Conference season is upon us! I thought it would be nice to highlight the graduate students that are representing IUP and our department by presenting their research in the form of papers and posters at the following conferences/forums:

  1. The Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference (MAAC) in Virginia Beach, VA- March 15-18
  2. The Graduate Scholars Forum at KCAC on IUPs campus, April 4
  3. The 89th Annual  Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology(SPA) Meeting in DuBois, PA- April 6-8
  4. The Annualy Society for American Archaeology (SAA) Conference in Washington, DC- April 11-15
  5. The Seminar for Arabian Studies (SAS) in Bloomsbury, London-August 3-5

Below you will read about each student’s individual project/research and which conferences/forum you can find them at this year!

Kristina Gaugler

Presenting research at: IUP Graduate Students Forum

Spatial Database Development for Confluence Park Master Plan

The goal of this project is to create a series of spatial data layers that document the existing environmental conditions at Confluence Park, a 15 acre site managed by the Allegheny Arboretum at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. These maps will contribute to the develop of a support system designed to complement future site planning activities and will include the current topography, vegetation, hydrology, existing structures, and site access points. Factors that may influence the decisions of future planning or construction will be assessed, including the location and condition of on-site sewage systems and retention ponds, riparian zones, and a rapid-bio assessment of streams. This information will help delineate locations on the site that may be suitable for future development. With the tools and basemaps created, users will be able to overlay applications to suit their needs and allow for varying types of analyses to be performed.

Britney Elsbury-Orris

Presenting research at: SPA and SAA

The Kirshner Site (36WM213) is a multi-component site in South Huntington township, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania that contains two Middle Monongahela villages. Relatively little is known about Monongahela use of animals.  Fortunately, good faunal preservation has made zooarchaeological analyses of materials from this site possible. Identifying and analyzing these faunal remains with respect to taxa and skeletal elements, as well as human and animal modifications, provides important new information. The distribution of faunal remains across the features of the site and its two components has been examined, as they have the implications for relationships between the site’s inhabitants and their environment. These data provide insights into the nature of this site and the activities of its occupants. Comparisons with other faunal studies, like those done on zooarchaeological materials from other Middle Monongahela sites, including the Johnston Site (36IN2) and the Hatfield Site (36WH678), further expands on the understanding of the Kirshner Site and the Middle Monongahela tradition.

Matthew Bjorkman

Presenting research at: IUP Graduate Scholars Forum

Indiana County FEMA Data-based Flood Hazard Analysis

Co-authored with Eisbeiry Cordova-Ortiz & Shanice Ellison

In the past decade we have frequently seen the effects of intense precipitation events, particularly the damage they cause in populated areas. Due to the increased frequency of these events, state and local government officials across the country have developed flood hazard analyses for their jurisdictions. Taking this into consideration, Indiana county is developing a flood management plan to prepare for any adverse effects caused by 100-year storms. Using ArcGIS, a geodatabase was developed to build a 100-year flood depth grid (FDG) using Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data from Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access (PASDA).  The FDG was used to identify structures that are located in a flood zone and would be susceptible to damage. This project highlights concentrations of vulnerable buildings and provides the value of the estimated monetary damages. These results will assist the county with its development of its comprehensive emergency management plan.

Using LiDAR to Analyze Landscape Evolution: A Case Study of the Squirrel Hill Site (36WM0035)

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is an active remote sensing system that has, on occasion, been used by archaeologists to conduct paleolandscape reconstruction studies. Understanding what the landscape looked like is essential for archaeologists to determine how prehistoric sites formed. Rivers are a primary operator in landscape evolution, as meandering and avulsing rivers can create major alterations to a landscape through deposition and erosional processes. Changes in a river’s position on the landscape will have great impacts on the location and preservation potential of archaeological sites This study utilizes LiDAR data from Indiana and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania to study landscape evolution near the archaeological site of Squirrel Hill, a Monongahela village site. The goal of the research was to use remote sensing technologies to identify and map extinct channels of the Conemaugh River to understand how the evolution of the landscape around the Squirrel Hill site has affected the site’s formation and preservation.

Samantha Taylor

Presenting research at: MAAC, SPA, SAA

Looking Through Dirty Dishes: A Comparative Analysis of Ceramics at the John and Rosie Allen Residence, Pandenarium, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

African Diaspora archaeology has become one of the most impactful means by which archaeologists supplement our current understanding of the past. Not only does this subfield have the potential to benefit descendant and local communities, but it also enables professionals to fill in the blank gaps left by the systematic disenfranchisement and intentional illiteracy of an entire group of people. One site with the potential to enhance our understanding of the African Diaspora is Pandenarium (36ME253) a freed African American settlement in western Pennsylvania. Current research at Pandenarium focuses on a comparative ceramic analysis with nearby archaeological sites, other freed African American sites, and slave quarters at plantations. The goal of this research is to determine the socio-economic status of individuals living at Pandenarium, along with participation in local and regional markets. The results of the analysis featured in this paper are a foundation for future comparative studies featuring Pandenarium.

Mesfer Alqahtani

Presenting poster at: SAA and the IUP Graduate Scholars Forum

Presenting paper at: SAS


GIS Investigations on Stone-Circle Structures in the North of Saudi Arabia

The theme of the poster will address archaeological phenomena in the north of Saudi Arabia. The archaeological phenomena are stone-built structures that can be seen by satellite images. These stone-built structures have various types, and one of them is the circle type.

The poster will show the method of creating predictive models of stone circles by using the Geographic Information System (GIS). To create these models, two zones from the north of Saudi Arabia should be selected: study zone and applied zone. The study zone is where the distribution of stone circle locations will be analyzed to create predictive models. The applied zone is where predictive models will be applied to be testable in the future.

The predictive models will be based on quantifiable attributes of stone-circle locations from the study zone. These attributes will include the relationship between stone-circle locations and environmental variables such as the landform and the distance of water resources. These attributes will be analyzed by ArcGIS to obtain environmental characteristics representing high, middle, or low probability models for the presence of stone-circle locations. In the applied zone, similar environmental characteristics will be identified to determine high, middle, low predictive models.


Geospatial Investigation of Circular Stone Structures in Northern Saudi Arabia

The paper will focus on the circular type of stone-built structures in Harrat Al-Harrah of northern Saudi Arabia. The goal of the research is to recognize the locational patterns for these circular structures based on five quantifiable geographic attributes: elevation, slope, land-cover, distance to sabkhas (temporary water bodies), and distance to wadies (water streams).

The probability modeling methodology conducted uses Remote Sensing and GIS technologies. This study includes identified locations of circular structures in one zone to create the model and a second zone to test the model (225 square miles and 81 squared miles total) of Harrat Al-Harrah, examining the correlative relationship between these locations and the five geographic factors. The results show the favorable geographic factors related to the locations of circular structures in the two zones of Harrat Al-Harrah.

The significance of this research lies in the contribution of recognizing the locational patterns of circular stone structures in two zones of Harrat Al-Harrah that have never been studied before and difficult to access. This pattern will be useful for comparative studies with locational patterns of circular structures in other areas of the Arabian Peninsula when conducting more investigations on this type of stone structures.

IUP Graduate Scholar Forum:

Geospatial investigation of circular stone structures in Northern Saudi Arabia

The theme of this poster will address stone-built structures in northern Saudi Arabia. Specifically, the circular type stone-built structure will be the focus of this research. Stone-built structures are an archaeological phenomena that can be seen via satellite images within this region of the world.

The goal of the research is to recognize the pattern of geographic locations for these circular stone-built structures based on five quantifiable geographic attributes. These attributes include elevation, slope, land-cover, distance to sabkhas (temporary water bodies), and distance to wadies (water streams). Remote Sensing and GIS technologies are used to conduct probability modeling for this research. This study includes identifying all the locations of circular structures in one zone, building a model for their locations, and then examining a second zone using the model. The results show the favorable locations for circular structures in these two zones based on the model.

Ross Owen

Presenting research at: SAA

PennDOT Highway Archaeological Survey Team: Providing Immersive CRM Work Experience to Students

Despite there being more applicants with graduate degrees than there are jobs, the CRM industry suffers from the number of people holding graduate degrees but lacking experience conducting archaeological surveys for Section 106 compliance. Additionally, conducting archaeological surveys is cost-prohibitive and can be a burden on state agencies on projects where federal funds are not involved. These two issues in the field of compliance archaeology prompted the creation of the PennDOT Highway Archaeological Survey Team (PHAST). Through a partnership with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, each year PHAST gives 4 students an opportunity to work on and complete small Phase I and II surveys for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The students gain experience in the field, and are employed in the lab to perform the necessary background research, GIS mapping, curation and documentation following the guidelines of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Much of this experience is outside the purview of most field technician positions. This paper will explore the successes and failures of the PHAST program from both a professional and financial point of view. How have the students benefitted from their experience within the program, and how has the state benefitted from the services provided?

Andrew Malhotra

Presenting research at: SPA (Co-authored with John Nass, Jr. (Callifornia University of Pennsylvania)

Presenting research at: IUP Graduate Scholars Forum


Social Signaling and the use of Style Amongst Late Prehistoric Monongahela Populations: Possible Evidence for Intervillage Political Integration

Communication between groups of people occurs for different reasons and, when using material culture, can take many forms. During the Late Prehistoric period evidence of social signaling in the form of shared stylistic traits appears at several late Monongahela villages from southwestern Pennsylvania. The stylistic trait consists of various forms of executing lip decoration on ceramic jars. The form of decoration using various tools results in the lip looking like a piecrust. This specific form of decoration appears from the Johnson site in Indiana County to the Foley Farm site in Greene County.In is the intent of this paper to document the temporal and spatial documentation and the social/political significance of this stylistic design is the subject of this paper.

IUP Graduate Scholars Forum:

Sanborn Maps of Indiana: Reconstructing the Urban Geography of Indiana, PA

This project will consist of analysis of Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps from 1887-1936 of Indiana Borough in order to depict urban growth patterns, major employers and how these factors changed over time. These maps were brought into ArcMap 10.5 to be georeferenced with road intersections and buildings, digitizing the most important ones. Attribute data including census and city directory data was also extracted for database creation. Through construction of a detailed database and data extraction of these maps, the goals of documenting and analyzing how the borough of Indiana and its people have developed and changed through the target years can be achieved. A future goal is to develop an interactive map with attribute information about its features for use by the public and historical society.

Genevieve Everett

Presenting Research at: SAA and Graduate Student Forum (abstract for forum not provided)

From Field School to Graduate School: How One Public Archaeology Program Has Made It All Possible

The Paleoindian Period of New Hampshire has been studied extensively, particularly in the White Mountains. Volunteers and avocationals from the summer field school known as the State Conservation And Rescue Archaeology Program (SCRAP) have excavated several of the known Paleoindian sites in northern New Hampshire. It is the goal of New Hampshire State Archaeologist, Richard Boisvert to make information and data recovered by SCRAP accessible to scholars as potential thesis and dissertation topics.

This paper outlines how the principal investigators participation in the SCRAP field school has been beneficial to her professional and academic career, including her current Master’s thesis. The purpose of this thesis is to produce a spatial and statistical analysis of the artifact assemblage from excavation block K at the Potter Site (27-CO-60) located in Randolph, New Hampshire in comparison with the Jefferson VI (27-CO-74) salvage block in Jefferson, New Hampshire. This comparison not only examines the spatial relationships within one Paleoindian site (27-CO-60), but also helps the principal investigator make inferences about the similarities and differences between two Paleoindian sites in close proximity. Public archaeology programs such as SCRAP are a valuable part of North American Archaeology, without SCRAP this work would not be possible.

Zaakiyah Cua

Presenting research at: SAA and the IUP Graduate Scholars Forum


Loyalhanna Lake: a Geoarchaeological Approach to Understanding the Archaeological Potential of Floodplains

Unlike uplands, floodplains generally yield stratified deposits that may include deeply buried landscapes and archaeological sites. Most state specifications for cultural resources surveys require floodplains to be geomorphically evaluated in order to identify buried landscapes. This is most frequently accomplished via trenching, an effective, but timely, costly, and sometimes destructive method. This project reports on an alternative technique utilizing a multi-proxy methodology coupling geophysical survey with auger sampling. These non-invasive and limited-impact methods produce accurate results without causing extensive destruction to cultural resources. The study area, located along Loyalhanna Creek in Westmoreland Country in western Pennsylvania, is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers – Pittsburgh District (USACE). As a federal agency, the USACE is mandated to identify and preserve cultural resources by Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Unfortunately, federal agencies often face limited staffing, resources and funding to address management of cultural resources. In addition to proposing a method for identifying buried landscapes, this project also provides a case study of partnerships between federal agencies and public universities; a mutually beneficial collaboration which provides agencies with data essential to land management while simultaneously providing students valuable opportunities to conduct cultural resource management assessments.

IUP Graduate Scholars Forum:

Misery Bay Ice Survey Preliminary Results: a Case Study for Testing Geophysical Methods and Collaboration with Stakeholders

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and gradiometry are two geophysical methods typically used by archaeologists in terrestrial environments to locate subsurface features. This study took terrestrial geophysical methods out on the frozen ice surface of Misery By, Presque Isle State Park, PA; testing instrument limits across two acres of the bay. If successful, this study has major implications to geophysical maritime investigations, broadening the reach of cultural resource management within these environments by government agencies. In addition to testing new methodology, the project was a collaboration between the PA DCNR, Regional Science Consortium, PA Sea Grant, PASST, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania Applied Archaeology program. The collaborative and public nature of the project drew in stakeholders, largely contributing to the success of the study. This poster presents the preliminary results of the project; both a case study for testing new methods, and the positive implications for collaborative and public cultural resource surveys.

Heather R. MacIsaac

Presenting research at: IUP Graduate Scholars Forum

The Squirrel Hill site in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, was a Monongahela village inhabited from A.D. 1450 to A.D. 1613. Past research conducted by IUP archaeologists at the Squirrel Hill site uncovered evidence of housing, storage areas, and burials. There are conflicting interpretations of the village’s development and expansion over time. One interpretation is that the site contains a single village with an open, central plaza for communal activities, and that the village gradually expanded southward. Another interpretation is that the site contains two overlapping villages occupied at different times. To evaluate these interpretations, this research incorporates a statistical analysis of artifacts and a spatial analysis of structural features based on materials from the 2016 IUP archaeological field school. This research also investigates whether the Squirrel Hill site was inhabited by Monongahela traditional people only or by an amalgamation of Monongahela tradition and nearby McFate phase people.



Walking on Thick Ice

Survey grids with War of 1812 Perry Monument in background

By: Zaakiyah Cua

It’s closing in on sunset and a group of three IUP Applied Archaeology M.A. students along with their professor work quickly collecting geophysical data several meters offshore on Misery Bay of Presque Isle State Park. As they work, a deep guttural groan comes from the ice, roaring under them and shooting off across the bay as quickly as it came. The students pause, look around, and continue their work. They have been hearing these noises from the over 12” thick ice surface all weekend, and have grown accustomed to the strange, eerie sounds. Two weekends ago, IUP Applied Archaeology students and professors conducted a geophysical survey of the frozen Misery Bay under the direction of Dr. Ben Ford, Dr. William Chadwick, and myself. The project was funded through a grant from the Regional Science Consortium and received full support from the PA DCNR and the PA Sea Grant. After spending a weekend on the groaning, moaning Misery Bay, I have come to find out that these sounds mentioned above do not necessarily indicate dangerous ice, they are a product of warming and cooling temperatures.

Day 1 GPR

Presque Isle State Park is in Erie, Pennsylvania and consists of a geologic spit complex, essentially a large peninsula sticking out from the mainland. Misery Bay consists of 200+ acres and is situated on the southeastern side of the peninsula. The goals of this project were to test the use of geophysical methods on the ice surface to determine if terrestrial methods could fit into the shallow water niche often difficult to survey with deep water equipment. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and gradiometry were the two methods chosen for the project. If successful, not only would this methodology guide subsequent diver surveys, but it could be successful in locating submerged cultural resources such as shipwrecks. Misery Bay was the perfect place to conduct this study as it offered an ice surface associated with a rich maritime history tracing back to at least the War of 1812. First a brief history…

Ross Owen collecting gradiometer data

During the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States of America, it was evident that control of the Great Lakes was crucial to victory. The Presque Isle spit formed a natural barrier for the US to build their naval fleet and was utilized for this purpose. A naval base was established on the peninsula, and Misery Bay was utilized to build and repair ships. Following the Battle of Lake Erie, and the US victory, Misery Bay was also used to scuttle, or intentionally sink, some of the warships for preservation, and later use. Since then, two ships have been raised, restored, and used as naval museums. The Erie Maritime Museum, Flagship Niagara, PASST (Pennsylvania Archaeological Shipwreck Survey Team), and other entities have conducted incredible research pertaining to the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie. Since 1812 and into more recent times, many vessels have been deposited in Misery Bay. With this history in mind, the bay offered an ideal location to test the methods with the possibility of identifying locations of vessels.

PASST divers in their element

In the three days the survey was conducted, major collaborative efforts between IUP researchers, the PA DCNR, PA Sea Grant, and PASST contributed to an incredibly successful project. Anomalies of interest were identified in the geophysical data, one of which was preliminarily investigated by the PASST divers on the last day of survey. The PASST team cut through the ice, dove down to identify if the anomaly was actually something, and positively identified a structure buried in bay floor sediments. What’s really cool about the PASST team, is that the members are certified divers who partake in survey work as a hobby and have true passion for what they do. During the weekend, IUP researchers also interacted with interested members of the public who stopped by to ask what we were doing out on the ice. These ranged from ice fishermen who shared the bay with us each day to weekend travelers. Finally, the IUP team spoke with the media regarding the survey and its implications to future work. It was definitely an experience talking with the media – it you get a chance, check out the Erie News Now coverage of our work.

Day 1 Pre-Project photo with DCNR and Sea Grant staff.

While the bulk of the post-fieldwork analysis is still underway, this project was quite successful. It offered an incredible opportunity to be involved in truly collaborative work with state agencies, funding entities, avocational groups, the public, and the media. Additionally, the project offered myself and other students involved professional development and a unique set of field skills to add to our toolkits. I especially want to acknowledge the two IUP graduate students who aided with the fieldwork; Steven Campbell and Ross Owen, we couldn’t have done it without your help! Overall this was a phenomenal experience. We lucked out with solid ice and good weather, pulled off a super successful project.



One Luddites Journey Learning GIS

By: Genevieve Everett

Before graduate school I asked friends that had been through graduate programs for some advice, and again and again I was warned that it would fly by fast. They weren’t wrong. Here I am, deep into my final semester of graduate school wondering what happened to the time. I guess it’s true, time flies when you’re having fun….or when you’re really stressed out.

One of the most stressful courses I signed up for in this program was the “Applied Spatial Methods in Archaeology” class. This class consisted of learning/using ArcGIS to create viewsheds, data dictionaries, etc., out of archaeological data. I had never used GIS, and I am not the most technologically savvy person out there, so I knew going into this class that I would be out of my comfort zone. I got passing grades in the class, but there were very few moments where I felt fully confident using ArcGIS. It was frustrating, and I hated asking my classmates for help, because we all have our own stresses to deal with. Looking back, I was so thankful that I took the class, because it has been immensely useful since.

Fake Boundary to show use of Websoil Survey and ArcGIS

This past summer working for PennDOT as a PHAST intern I used ArcGIS all the time to georeference historic maps, historic aerials, engineering plans, and to draw in project area boundaries, which I converted into maps for reports. One of my favorite uses of GIS is creating an AOI in Web Soil Survey, which creates a shapefile showing the soil(s) in the project area. First you upload the project area boundary into Web Soil Survey, which displays the project area boundary (in the real world coordinates that you set in ArcGIS), and the soils present within it. You then download the shapefile associated with the AOI, and bring it into ArcGIS. I created a fake project boundary to show what the end product looks like. In this example there are two soils present, 14B and 214A, which have unique names. For example, 14B, which makes up 98% of this fake project boundary is called Sheepscot. Sheepscot is a cobbly very fine sandly loam. Web Soil Survey also provides information about elevation, slope, farmland classification, typical stratigraphic profile information, and parent material. All of this information comes in handy when writing technical reports.

Another reason I am really glad I took that class is that I have been using ArcGIS heavily for my thesis. Part of my thesis is conducting a spatial analysis of lithics and lithic raw material from a Paleoindian site in New Hampshire, in comparison to another site nearby. By extension, I am attempting to determine what type of activity or activities were being carried out in this area. With the help of Dr. Chadwick, classmates, past theses, and my own problem solving (mostly through the ESRI website), I have made a lot of progress and learned a few new things. One of those things was creating a “fishnet” to create the excavation block grid out of two datum points, because there is no GPS data. Most recently I taught myself how to create Choropleth maps. Choropleth maps display where individual or multiple artifacts are in relation to one another in the excavation block using color gradients. As you can see in the image, each color is correlated with a particular number of Waste Flakes, and the quadrants for which they were found. For example, the red quadrants in the “Total Waste Flakes K-Block” image are the quadrants that have a higher count of waste flakes (90-176). I am also looking at the distribution of artifacts by Zone (or Strat), which are easily displayed in these Choropleth maps for comparison (shown below). My next step is to take these Choropleth maps, and do hot spot/cluster analysis.

The moral of the story? Try something new, even if it scares you. It’s cliché, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.


Working At the Carnegie Museum: A Love Affair.

By: Kristina Gaugler

The Carnegie Museum and I have a long history.

Early photograph of the Hall of Architecture

I was born and raised in the North Side of Pittsburgh, and like many a “city kid” I was shuttled by school bus to and from the Carnegie Museum throughout grade school, middle school, and high school. I have vivid memories of sitting at the long wooden tables in the museum cafeteria, under enormous glass windows, scarfing my brown bag lunch so I could get back to exploring. I was the kid who shushed classmates who were interrupting the docents, who asked a thousand questions, read every single word on the exhibit displays, and who didn’t want to leave at the end of the day. When I was an angst-ridden teenager, I would hang out at the museum after school, moping around the hall of architecture or sitting alone in the replica Egyptian tomb. Visiting the museum now, so many years later, I still have the same feelings of comfort and wonder as I did when I was younger. As an archaeologist and general history enthusiast, I love all museums, but the Carnegie definitely holds a special place for me. It feels like my museum.

My purpose in writing this post is to share some of my experiences working and volunteering at the Carnegie. I hope that I also highlight the notion that outreach programs and education within public institutions is valuable, worth our efforts, and fun for people of all ages.

I went to the University of Pittsburgh for my undergraduate in anthropology. While attending Pitt I had a work-study position through the Carnegie at the “Bone Hunters Quarry,” where I taught visitors (mostly school groups) about extinct animals through the excavation of a fake site. I learned that if you gave a small child a chisel and told them to dig wherever they wanted, you were very likely to ignite a spark within them that excited their curiosity in the past. Although, on occasion a spark was ignited within them to throw the chisel, sometimes narrowly missing your own head, those times were fun too. Either way, this was the first time that I really began to discover how much I enjoyed talking to visitors about archaeology and history.

Talking with visitors during Artifact I.D. day at the Carnegie

After graduating from Pitt, I found work as an archaeological field technician. Eventually though, I decided that I wanted to take a break from full time field work to prepare to go back to graduate school. Through a series of fortunate events I began, once again, to work for the Carnegie Museum. This time I volunteered at the Edward O’Neil Research Center, which is the Carnegie Museums off-site collections facility. My supervisor and friend, Amy Covell, allowed me the freedom to work on projects that interested me in the lab. When I started volunteering at the annex, the building was in the process of being renovated and many artifacts were going to be moved to new locations. Thus, I began my time there by helping to build permanent supports for fragile materials, including prehistoric pottery, stone tools, and glass artifacts. I learned proper handling of artifacts in accordance with the most current curatorial procedures, and I learned conservation techniques used in cleaning objects, including removing old plastics, adhesives, and ink that were used in the early days of museum storage and curation.

My favorite task at the museum however, was to be a part of the educational outreach programs. Last June I had the opportunity to speak with visitors about archaeology during the Carnegie’s “After Dark Program,” a monthly series where guests can come to the museum in the evening to explore, eat, drink, and hear lectures on various subjects. Another one of my favorite programs at the museum is “Artifact Identification Day.” This event gives visitors the opportunity to bring in their heirlooms and artifacts to have them identified by staff. It is always amazing, and sometimes humorous (see photo of me holding a Lodoicea) to help identify the items that people bring.

Holding a Lodoicea, or sea coconut, during Artifact I.D. Day. Lodoicea is the largest seed in the world! (And yes, it does look like a butt)


I have often thought of the Carnegie as being a museum of a museum. The Carnegie began acquiring artifacts and creating exhibits over a hundred years ago, and many of those early exhibits and artifacts are still on display. Working and volunteering at the museum gave me the opportunity to be a part of the team of people who were helping to conserve and protect these cherished items for future generations. To me, protecting artifacts and archaeological sites begins by showing people why they should care about them. For this reason, programs and institutions that promote stewardship of the past are incredibly important. History is made up of millions of stories. One of those stories is bound to pique the interest of someone! I’m very thankful for my time at the Carnegie, and I look forward to many more years of learning and visiting!

Photo of “Early Hall of Architecture” from: http://carnegiemuseums.org/about-us/our-history/


“Me Too”: Taking a Stance Against Work-Place Harassment in Archaeology

By: Genevieve Everett

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Me Too” movement and how women have been affected by work related harassment and assault within the field of Archaeology. As a woman coming to the end of my graduate studies, I am preparing for a future of working as a “field-based scientist”. I have been thinking about what it means to be a woman in the sciences, and the unpleasant experiences so many women have experienced and endured in the not so distant past. I obviously cannot speak for every individual that identifies as female, but I can say that the subject of work place harassment and assault has only recently been publicly addressed, and quantified in two well-known (within the field of Archaeology) surveys. The results of the surveys were provided by the Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) in “Preliminary Results of the SEAC Sexual Harassment Survey” (Meyers et al. 2015), and in the article, “Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault” (Clancy et al. 2014). While the SEAC survey is very important, and sheds light on improper work related harassment (when is it ever proper?) specific to archaeology, I am going to briefly discuss the SAFE survey.

It should be noted, not all respondents to the SAFE survey were Archaeologists, however, Archaeologists did account for 159 of the respondents (23%), out of a total of 666 total respondents (Clancy et al. 2014). The SAFE survey was distributed as a link through email and social media calling for field-based scientists, such as CRM professionals. Participants were asked to respond to a series of questions pertaining to age, gender, etc. And most importantly, questions related to sexual harassment and assault, whether personal or observed.

In terms of demographics, the results indicate that 77.5% of the respondents were women (Clancy et al. 2014). Likewise, various respondents provided varying sexual orientations and ethnicities, however, majority of respondents were heterosexual and white. Professionally, respondents included, students (grad/undergrad), professors (of all levels), researchers, and all others outside of the field of academia. Long story short, the survey indicated that women at the “Trainee” level of the employment ladder provided that they have experienced either harassment, assault, or both at higher rates than any other professional. For example, 84% of women at the trainee level indicated that they have experienced some sort of work related harassment, while women in “higher” positions experienced lower rates of harassment (Clancy et. al 2014). In the survey, most women indicated that the perpetrators were higher on the “professional hierarchy”, people in “power”.

If we look at trends of the “Me Too” movement, women around the country are coming out with allegations against men of “power”, individuals that control the purse strings. It might not seem like it, but what’s happening in Hollywood and politics is also happening in Archaeology (made clear in the SAFE survey), and it has been happening for a very long time. I’ve heard people say, “Why are women all of a suddenly speaking out?” They’re not “suddenly” speaking out, many women have come forward, but we haven’t heard about it, because the individuals that are, are either not famous enough or they have been ordered under legal agreements to keep silent about the case. I think it’s great that the systemic problem of work place harassment and assault are being addressed in our field, but more needs to be done. I’d be very curious to see the results of a similar survey now, in 2018, when women are banding together to support one another and speak out. I’d like to see responses to how men and women would like to see and contribute to a safe working environment. How can this be achieved? I completely agree with Clancy and her colleagues that the only way to improve the unwanted and uncomfortable situations in the field is, “raising awareness of the presence of hostile work behaviors, discrimination, harassment, and assault (particularly women); creating guidelines for respectful behavior; and adopting independent reporting and enforcement mechanisms” (Clancy et al. 2014). The only way forward is to re-educate professionals, for BOTH men and women at all levels of the profession to take a hard stance against work place assault and harassment, and support those that still fall victim to these experiences.


My Brief Encounter with a Metal Detecting Hobbyist (Not a Love Story)

By: Genevieve Everett

Over break I was out doing some Christmas shopping at my boyfriends favorite fly shop in Pittsburgh. He spends A LOT of time (and money) there, so he’s gotten to know the staff pretty well, and by default, I have too. Anyway, seeing as I am clueless about fly-fishing one of the staff, Sharon was helping me pick out fly tying material. Sharon proudly introduced me to another regular customer: “This is Gen, she’s studying Archaeology”. The man that she introduced me to immediately decided to tell me that he and his buddies go metal detecting, and all of the “cool” stuff that they’ve found, including, Civil War era buttons, and so on. I nodded as he went on and on about taking objects from areas they knew they were not supposed to be taking them from. He continued to defend his side (at this point I couldn’t get a word in) by stating in some many words, “Why can’t I take these objects and teach my grand children about the past when institutions like the Smithsonian have repositories where artifact assemblages just sit there for years collecting dust?”

Before I go on to tell you how I responded, I will go on to tell you the little that I know about metal detecting in archaeology. Metal detecting is often used as a tool by archaeologists at battlefield and fort sites (Gettysburg, Fort Necessity, etc), because, well, there’s a lot of metal where gunpowder is involved. For example, this summer, the PHAST crew and myself did a metal detecting survey at Fort Deshler, a French and Indian War era fort in Pennsylvania. There are also strict laws (that vary by state) that dictate where and when you can metal detect. According to the Society for American Archaeology, there are distinctions made between private, state, and federal property. If on private property, one must have written permission from the landowner, otherwise it is considered trespassing. Same goes for state property, but this varies by state. Finally, it is typically illegal to metal detect on federal property without a federal permit, much like any federal archaeological work. Metal dectors are definitely breaking the law if they’re disturbing and recovering artifacts from an archaeological site. The moral of the story is, if you’re a metal detecting hobbyist, you better know the laws surrounding the hobby, or you could face jail time and/or fines.

Okay, so my response to the man? I understood where the man was coming from in his final point, so, I didn’t want to come off as “snooty” or “preachy”, because if I’ve learned anything about dealing with the public, that is the first way to make collectors go on the defensive. I told him that his exploits sound really interesting, because, hey, the guy seems like he’s fascinated by the past, even if how he chooses to learn about it is possibly illegal. However, I did tell him that as an archaeologist I have a few suggestions for future metal detecting. I went on to say that he could get in a lot of trouble if he continues to do what he’s doing, especially if the land he’s doing it on is protected. I told him to read up on Pennsylvania metal detecting laws, and if ever in doubt, and when possible, ask for written permission. I told him to photograph and record what he finds and where before pocketing it. In addition, I explained that leaving the found object in the ground, and marking/photographing the location is ideal, and to follow that up by contacting the state archaeologists of the find. By contacting the proper people, he would be making a contribution to the understanding of the past.

I know this guy might not change his ways, but maybe he will? It’s hard to say, since this was such a brief encounter. Before my time in the IUP Applied Archaeology MA Program (no, this is not a plug for the program!) I would not have felt as confident in speaking up about collecting/looting. Like I said above, learning to talk with collectors in a civil manner is the only way to reeducate them about their actions. We may not be able to get through to everyone, but it’s worth the try.


Tools of the Trade: Actual Archaeology at PennDOT

By : Angela Jaillet-Wentling

From underneath a rusty 1927 Studebaker coupe car (an antique even in my youth) frame, my Papa called out to myself and my brother, “Can one of you kids hand me a the flat-head screwdriver with the stubby handle?” At the ripe old ages of six and four, we may very well have handed him a pair of pliers for all we knew.  He’d roll out on his card dolly with a smile, accuse us of being monkey wrenches, show us the tool he’d meant and head back under an engine most people had given up on fifty years prior. What I’d learned from my Papa, even as I spent more time playing with and picking on my younger brother, was that every job has a tool and some tools are more appropriate than others.

Photo 1. Shovel testing /Phase I archaeological survey, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Courtesy Angie Jaillet-Wentling (2017).

One of the first things about archaeology that I found re latable was this idea. I also like dirt, so it’s worked out well as a life/career choice for me! I began my career in Cultural Resources Management (CRM) in transportation through an internship with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). As a note though, when I told my Papa that I wanted to be an archaeologist and there were jobs for in places like PennDOT, he laughed and hit me with one of the biggest myths I face as a transportation archaeologist “So, you’re going to hold up progress on the highways?!” Another thing my Papa taught me is that you can face almost anything with humor and a quick response. Being new to the profession, I don’t know that I had a good response to his question other than to laugh, give him a mock grumpy look, and say it wasn’t true. This is still true, but now I can tell him we rarely “hold up” a project and that we’re there to ensure that we don’t inadvertently lose out on our shared heritage by pushing projects through without consideration.

As a PennDOT archaeologist, we’re hired as historic preservation specialists and called Cultural Resource Professionals (CRPs) (https://www.paprojectpath.org/penndot-crm/home).  We help guide the implementation of PennDOT’s cultural resources program and the ways in which the individual engineering districts navigate the Section 106 (of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended [1966, 2016]) (http://www.achp.gov/nhpa.pdf) process and how it may affect the overarching National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (1969) (https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/ceq/NEPA_full_text.pdf), process.  On a more localized level, what this means is that I work as one part of a team which includes myself covering below-ground cultural resources and my counterpart, an architectural historian, covering the above-ground cultural resources realm. We attend design field views early in the project planning process, provide guidance as to what studies may be needed, sometimes performing these studies ourselves, and ensure that each project follows the process in the most efficient way possible. We’re responsible for Findings of Effect or the determination of whether a project’s activities will affect cultural resources and, if so, how PennDOT can mitigate for that impact.

Photo 2. Backhoe Sounding of Ground-Penetrating Radar survey, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Courtesy Angie Jaillet-Wentling (2017).

That all sounds awfully convoluted and legal, and it is, but it’s also done in equal parts archaeology technical know-how and documentation (findings, reports, and even public outreach).  On any given day, I can be found roadside wielding a soil probe or shovel to determine the extent of previous disturbances (Photo 1) or monitoring the removal of modern overburden by a backhoe to ground-truth the results of a ground-penetrating radar survey (Photo 2) or floating in a kayak in freezing weather to delineate canal resources (Photo 3) or pecking away on my keyboard to notify Federally-Recognized Tribes and Nations across the nation of project status or preparing legally-binding programmatic agreements.  We conduct background research on our projects to provide the best guidance possible and sometimes this gives us a better idea of the methods we’d like to use to investigate differing project areas and potential cultural resources.

Preparing haphazardly for this blog post, I asked Gen Everett what she’d like me to write about.  She though that I should discuss what I do as a CRP and possibly advice for graduates heading towards CRM.  There’s a joke archaeologists like to tell about classifying artifacts, you’re either a lumper or a splitter – as in you either associate or you differentiate the different characteristics of artifacts. I’m going to lump what I find most critical to completion of my daily duties and advice into one basic idea: know your tools and to do this ask questions! 

Photo 3. Canal survey of a portion of the Kiskiminetas River, Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania. Left: Angie Jaillet-Wentling. Middle Background: Railroad Trestle. Right: Canal Towpath Bridge Abutment. Courtesy Don Burden (2017).

Archaeology and CRM is filled with resources (and not just the cultural/archaeological/historical kind) in both its practitioners and its methodologies. Familiarize yourself with different methods of investigation so that you can develop a nuanced and effective approach to identifying and evaluating cultural resources that may be impacted by a project. This means that you might need to move beyond the standard shovel testing to remote sensing methods to backhoe trenches. You should be comfortable with the different options, so that you’re confident in choosing the most appropriate tool for the task.  To be comfortable and confident, familiarize yourself with the methods and the people that know them best understanding that you might not be the expert, but you know who is. You can’t come by this knowledge without putting in the research and asking questions!

Once you get to the point where you have something to impart, be it knowledge or support, it probably doesn’t hurt to share it with others. I think this applies to research and experience. What’s the use in learning about our history, if you can’t use that to help others increase awareness?  Publish and present what you can.  Graduate students in the future will likely cite it or critique it, but it furthers your field of study.  I was very fortunate to have early and often mentorship from PennDOT, in the form of the usually laughing and story-telling, Mr. Joe Baker. I count myself even more fortunate in my latest stint as a PennDOT CRP, because we get to work with and help mentor the PennDOT Highway Archaeology Survey Team (PHAST) (https://iblog.iup.edu/trowelsandtribulations/tag/phast/, https://iblog.iup.edu/trowelsandtribulations/2017/08/31/my-summer-as-a-phast-intern/, or https://iblog.iup.edu/trowelsandtribulations/2016/07/13/pennsylvania-highway-archaeological-survey-team-midseason-update/comment-page-1/). It’s a joy to hear their questions, answer what I can, and pose some back to them.

Angie Jaillet-Wentling

Angela Jaillet-Wentling, M.A., RPA | Historic Preservation Specialist

PA Department of Transportation

Bureau of Project Delivery | Cultural Resources Unit

CRP Archaeologist Engineering Districts 12-0/11-0



VA to PA: Musings From A First Year Graduate Student

By: Jessie Hoover


Excavations at Hanna’s Town

Hello, my name is Jessie Hoover, and I am a first-year graduate student of the Applied Archaeology Program. My fieldwork over the summer of 2017 consisted of two field schools. First, from May to June, I supervised undergraduates, through Longwood University, at the Randy K. Wade site in Randolph, Virginia. I fell in love with this site! It is so rich in cultural material; every feature is bound to have at least five full bags of artifacts! The site is a Late Woodland period site located in the Stanton River Battlefield State Park. I lived out of a tent for four weeks, braving wind, rain, and bugs (sometimes all three at once). I woke up one morning with a bug bite right below my eye, causing major swelling, but I reminded myself that it was all in the name of archaeology! The most interesting find was a pile of corn cobs within a fire pit feature. The way the corn cobbs laid looked like they were just thrown into a fire yesterday, reminding me to remember the people that occupied the area, not just the artifacts.

After moving to Pennsylvania in July, I started IUP’s field school at Hanna’s Town in Westmoreland County, PA. This site reminded me that not every site is going to resemble the Wade site. Sam Edwards and I worked weeks in a 5’ x 5’ unit with barely any artifacts to show for it. We did find a few interesting features, which were small post holes a semicircle. Unfortunately, the lack of artifacts makes it hard to draw conclusions from these features.

Me with Representative Eric Nelson visiting excavations at Hanna’s Town

Once my archaeology season ended it was time to hit the books with the start of my first semester of grad school. I was nervous and excited about going to grad school and moving to another state. Luckily I was not too nervous about the actual school work since I only took a year off from school. I knew time management was key and avoiding procrastination (Netflix) at all costs was important coming into the program, but knowing and implementing time management are drastically different! To support myself thought my first semester, I had to get a part-time job. Course work and job shifts have proved quite the balancing act; I have needed to make many adjustments. During the beginning weeks, I never gave myself a break. Between work and reading assignments, I always felt overwhelmed. I really had to have a heart-to-heart with myself to set aside time to do something fun and take a break before insanity takes its toll. Because of this decision, I have been able to get closer to my cohort, which has done wonders for my morale. Your cohort and professors are there to HELP YOU, this cannot be stressed enough! Since it is close to Thanksgiving, I am highly thankful for my cohort and the others who have come into my life since beginning of my grad school journey. Whether we are working on Barber assignments or just hanging out, the support has made this experience easier.


Yes, Archaeology is a Science Too…

By: Genevieve Everett

For the past few weeks the Public Archaeology class and I have been preparing to host the high school students involved in the Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) program. The Upward Bound program aims to serve, “high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree” (U.S. Department of Education). UBMS, a local branch of Upward Bound, prepares high school students for college with the possibility of pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). The UMBS students are required to come to IUPs campus one Saturday a month for tutoring sessions and/or workshops. This month (November) the students woke up bright and early to participate in four archaeology centric workshops.

In planning for the workshops, our class brainstormed a theme and three objectives to convey the scientific aspects of archaeology. We chose the theme, “Scientific Method” (a concept most high school students have learned), and our three objectives were to show how the scientific method is used in archaeology, highlight the inter-disciplinary aspects of archaeology, and how math and technology aid archaeology. Most importantly, our goal was to provide a hands-on experience that actively engaged the students as opposed to simply teaching them through lecture. The four workshops developed by our class include: Dendrochronology/Archaeoclimatology, Geophysics/archaeology, how to lay out test units (using the Pythagorean Theorem), and dissecting owl pellets/zooarchaeology.

Jessie and I partnered up, and decided to create a dendrochronology workshop, which evolved into a focus on what tree rings (annual growth of a tree) can tell us about past climate events and how this may have effected settlement and subsistence in the past (Archaeoclimatology). I for one knew little about the methods behind “dendro”; therefore, it was a personal learning experience for me. Our learning objectives for this workshop were to show how archaeologists use dendrochronology and the limitations of the dating methods, and the ability to look for past climatic events in tree rings and their effects on the surrounding environment.

One of the horizontal cross cut hand-outs

Jessie and I created a few PowerPoint slides explaining what dendrochronology is and what each tree ring can tell us about the trees growth (i.e. wider rings=healthy growth, smaller rings=dry seasons, less healthy growth). With this information, Jessie and I gave the students two hand-outs displaying horizontal cross cuts of trees that represented two hypothetical beams from two log cabins found in close proximity on the North American Great Plains. In this hypothetical scenario, Jessie and I, the archaeologists asked the students to help determine the first year of growth of each beam, the year each tree was cut, and which drought event (The Dust Bowl or the 1890’s Drought) was present based on the tree rings. The students were given two dates: 1886 and 1919 for first year of growth from which they were asked to count out toward the outer most ring (last year cut) to find the climate event and the year the tree was cut. Likewise, they were asked to make observations and work together to figure out the three objectives of the activity.

A good portion of the students (sorry, no hard statistics) were able to determine the first year of growth by testing out the two dates for first year of growth (1886 and 1919) on one hand-out at a time by counting out and up in time. Counting out and up in time allowed the students to pin-point where the climate events occurred, and finally the year the tree was cut. Other students needed a few hints to get them going. We rounded out the activity by explaining that dendrochronology is by no means a perfect dating tool, instead, we weigh the date from dendro against other methods such as radiocarbon dating and diagnostic artifacts from excavations. Additionally, we discussed the impacts of climate on humans in the past based on our own knowledge of the effects in contemporary contexts.

Overall, as a student of archaeology with an interest in Public Archaeology, this was as much an educational experience for me as it was for them. I’ve had minimal opportunities to interact with the public other than what I’ve done for my graduate assistantship and at field school. When working with the public, especially high school aged kids, you have to be able to balance all the different learning styles (tactile, visual, auditory, etc) in one workshop. This is definitely not easy, and I give teachers props that are able to balance them all. I think that if Jessie and I had a little more time to develop the activity, that our workshop could have the potential to be a valuable teaching tool for all learning styles. One major take away from the student evaluations is that these kids want less lecture and more hands-on activities. Personally, I think that we provided them with plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning, but the audience has spoken, and as educators, it is our duty to adapt to these “criticisms” and work on making these workshops more fun and engaging.


Growing Up In Cemeteries, Pt 2.

By: Zane Ermine

Hello everyone! This is Zane Ermine again with another blog post! This week I’m going to be talking about headstone symbolism throughout the last 300 or so years in North America. (I should note that this is an extremely brief generalization based off of my previous knowledge and some basic research).

Headstones and cemetery engravings have changed drastically throughout the years. From the onset of using stone markers to designate burials, there were often intricate designs incorporated with the name, birth and death dates of the individual onto the face of the stone. These were usually carved with a hammer and chisel and due to the time and effort that were necessary to process an individual monument, set designs were chosen and offered to the families. These designs had themes that were common throughout the industry.

Here are just a handful of the more common symbols:

Dogwood – often a symbol of Christianity, it can also represent eternal life and resurrection.

Dove Often representative of the Holy Spirit, also symbolizes peace in death or the ascension to Heaven.


Draped Urn – the urn is an ancient symbol of death – often draped with a cloth to represent a separation between life and death

Draped Urn

Wheat – the Grim Reaper is generally depicted as carrying a scythe – can represent a life well lived, harvested at its time.

Lamb – common on children’s stones, it can represent innocence – a lamb in Jesus’ flock



Example of Greek temple style monument

Eventually, tombstones grew into a status symbol – you can often tell which family had the most money by their large and intricately carved family stone. These headstones were often influenced by the popular architecture of the time; you can find Egyptian or Greek style stones during their respective revivals between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Around the 1930s, some companies began slowly adopting sandblast technology to engrave their headstones. Rubber was (and still is) used as a stencil to prevent the sand from eroding sections of the stone that are meant to remain untouched. The technology has remained relatively stable since this period, despite varying methods for attaching the rubber and the introduction of computer software. Currently, adhesive-backed rolls of rubber are cut from a stencil cutting machine and placed on the blank monument die. The machine cuts the stencil directly from a CAD program and a to scale computer draft of the stone.

A modern headstone, showing detailed sandblast work. The 3 symbols across the bottom represent the deceased’s various hobbies.

These days, symbolism seems to have taken a back seat to artistic creativity. Modern technology has drastically increased the range of designs that can be placed onto a monument – instead of hand-carving designs, computers and automated sandblast machines do much of the work. Some of the older staples, such as dogwood, doves, roses, or clasping hands have stuck around, although this is more likely due to tradition or aesthetic values, rather than symbolism. Customers can now choose from wider range of designs including sports emblems, cartoon characters, or a variety of animals or vehicles. The art of tombstone design has shifted from inert symbolism to a more blatant pictorial representation of an individual’s life.

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