Pennsylvania Highway Archaeological Survey Team – MidSeason Update

By Kate Peresolak


The 2016 PHAST Interns: (l to r) Brendan Cole, Kelsey Schneehagen, and Sarah Henley.

At this point in the summer, time is flying PHAST, at least for the members of PennDOT’s Highway Archaeological Survey Team. As the field director, I supervise three graduate and/or undergraduate students hired as PennDOT interns and, together, we complete small archaeological investigations ahead of PennDOT transportation projects. This year’s crew includes Sarah Henley, an IUP Graduate student, and two IUP archaeology undergraduates: Brendan Cole and Kelsey Schneehagen.


Brickworks foundation, Westmoreland County.

This PHAST season began in May, and fieldwork for seven of our current 11 projects for the 2016 season is complete. We worked near a Berks County covered bridge dating to 1869 and a culvert replacement area in Juniata County. We also utilized Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to survey the remnant concrete foundation of a large historic brickworks in Westmoreland County. Additional GPR survey, archaeological testing, and two days at an urban site in Pittsburgh are only some of the projects that await us.


Just some of the artifacts recovered from a recent PHAST project.

Cultural resource interns from Harrisburg and other state locations spend one to two days working with PHAST to experience archaeological fieldwork in Pennsylvania. In addition to working with other interns, the crew networks with established field archaeologists and other professionals working in cultural resource management (CRM). They are exposed to varying field conditions, projects, and also laboratory tasks including report graphics production, ArcMap figure creation, curation documentation, and artifact analysis.


Kelsey slingin’ soil.

The crew’s employment will continue through October, which is enough time to also learn how artifact and documentary collections are prepared for submission to the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Check back in September for a final update on our summer activities!


Kate checking the soil profile at the bottom of an excavation unit.