The Life and Times of a Stressed out Graduate Student


Field trip to Meadowcroft Rockshelter!

By: Sami Taylor

Hey guys, my name is Sami. I’m a first year graduate student here at IUP. I received my BA in History at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia earlier this year

I first learned about IUP through my spring 2015 internship with the Cultural Resource Management program at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. After getting in contact with Dr. Ben Ford and discussing the program with him via email I decided to apply. Making my final decision to enroll was difficult to say the least. I couldn’t decide whether to attend an applied program or a more theory-heavy program. I spoke with a variety of my professors, archaeologists from around the east coast, and read every bit of information about IUP available. (At one point I even listened to a podcast that featured Dr. Ford.) After weeks of mulling it over, I made my decision to attend IUP and enrolled in classes. I’m so thankful I decided to attend IUP. The friendships, experiences, and knowledge I’ve acquired from attending this program is irreplaceable.


My first Pow-Wow in Pittsburgh

Since moving to Indiana my life has changed pretty drastically. I now spend around 80% of my time working on assignments, 10% of my time managing an online catalog, and the other 10% of my time goofing off with my fellow students. Though getting used to busy days and sleepless nights has been difficult, I don’t regret a second of it. I’ve learned so much about archaeology in only three months. I’ve made so many great friendships in both my cohort and the cohort ahead of us. My cohort and I were fortunate to be welcomed into this program and into this department with welcome arms. The community here in the IUP Anthropology Department is close-knit. We laugh together, cry together, and pull all-nighters together.

It would be really hard to mention just one experience I’ve since attending IUP so I’ll list some of my favorites:

  1. Attending my first Pow-Wow in Pittsburgh at the beginning of the semester with Heather.
  2. Going to ESAF in Langhorne with Gen.
  3. Going to the Meadowcroft Rockshelter with most of the graduate students.
  4. Spending long, homework-filled weekends in McElhaney with Danielle

    ‘Accidentally’ matching in our Meadowcroft t-shirts

    and Heather (they’re usually full of not-so-funny youtube videos).

  5. Going to Trivia Night with Danielle, Heather, and Jared.
  6. Annoying Dr. Chadwick and Dr. Ford in their offices.
  7. Meeting members of previous cohorts and getting to know them.
  8. Drinking way too much coffee in Dr. Ford’s 9 AM class just to stay alive.

I can’t believe how much fun I’ve had this semester, and how much I’ve grown so far. I have no doubt that IUP is going to help me achieve my goals as an archaeologist. I’m really excited for what’s to come, and I know I’ll continue meeting so many great people along the way.

Attending My First ESAF Conference!

By: Cheryl Frankum


Looking at artifacts in the Snyder Complex

The conference experience for a typical graduate student can range from total exhilaration in meeting and connecting with new people and discovering new work being done to terrifying bouts of stage fright if you need to present. Luckily for myself and the crowd- I was not presenting, and I attended my first Eastern States Archaeological Federation (ESAF) conference solely as a care-free attendee! This allowed me the focus and ability to attend almost all of the conference, so please enjoy my synopsis of a wonderful meeting.


Snyder complex- Jen Rankin showing Paleo stratigraphy

ESAF offered an incredible fieldtrip on Thursday November 3, 2016 that visited two of the most notable Paleo-Indian sites in New Jersey: the Snyder Complex and the Plenge Site. The tour was well attended, and began with a caravan of our vehicles that arrived to the Snyder Farms location. Jen Rankin (Temple, AECOM) and Michael Stewart (Temple, NJHPO) took visitors through an imaginative journey of what the site would have looked like then and now. Their study has partly focused on examining and understanding the past Paleo environment along the Delaware River, and how this changed through time. Guests were treated to a special look at Jen’s current excavations and were offered a hands-on experience with the artifacts that were recovered from the site!


the Plenge Site- tributary to Delaware River


Plenge Site- everyone gathered to look at surface where most fluted points were found

The Plenge Site tour was led by Joe Gingerich, with a special visit from Leonard Ziegler (SPA) who has been instrumental in collecting and recording the site since its discovery in the early 1970s. The Plenge site is one of the most important Paleo sites as it has produced 226 fluted points to date. The tour consisted of your everyday corn fields along the riverfront, and what a view it was!

The Friday sessions I attended delved into Pennsylvania quarries and discussed where Native Americans were obtaining their toolstone. If you went to the SPA meeting this past spring- Friday was a repeat of that. A real treat was when Peter Leach from GSSI gave the IUP crew a special demonstration of the new GPR model SIR 4000! We all did some transects right there over concrete and disturbed areas, and of course he showed off the instruments new bells and whistles. Friday night was the Canadian-American Friendship party, and while I went with the intention of meeting Canadians, I actually met archaeologist from SUNY and UCONN! I did ask Kurt Carr where I could find some Canadians to introduce myself to, and he jokingly replied to find the people holding the green beer bottles!

Being that I have a great interest in Historical Archaeology, I was ready for the Saturday session that consisted of multiple presenters5th who worked on the I-95 project- Urban Archaeology in Historic Philadelphia! This was exceptionally entertaining for me as I am going to begin excavation on my first privy next week, and many of the AECOM presenters spoke about the privies excavated on this project, over 400!

I always try to make the very most of every conference, and ESAF was no exception. I was able to learn many new things, meet new people, and reconnect with the ones I admire! I would call this meeting a success, and encourage all of you to attend as many of these types of events as possible.

IUP at the SHPO, Part 1

By: Hannah Harvey


Dave Breitkreutz hard at work mapping a report

This fall, IUP’s archaeology program is being well represented at the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). David Breitkreutz and myself, both “third-year” grad students, are currently working as independent contractors helping to process a backlog of archaeological survey reports into PA’s Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS). This work is part of a larger project to design and implement a new SHPO-wide data management system, which is serving as mitigation for the destruction of an archaeological site.


At the start of the project, a wall of backlogged reports!

The day-to-day work is fairly straightforward: grab a report, enter report data into the CRGIS database, map the survey area in GeoMedia (which links to the report record in the CRGIS web interface), put the report in a folder, slap on a label, file it in the record room… and repeat! Sounds pretty simple, and for many reports it is that easy. However, we’ve been learning that each survey and each report is unique due to the nature of the undertaking, the terrain, the consultants’ reporting styles, and whether or not sites were recorded. Naturally, a few of these reports are problem children and very difficult to process, especially when the report is older than I am and the volume with all the project maps has vanished. Needless to say, the variety keeps things interesting!

Even when the work feels a little repetitive, it is an important part of the SHPO’s task of managing compliance-driven archaeological survey across the state. For every project, after the field and lab work has been completed, the report ends up at the SHPO where a trusty team of archaeological reviewers read the reports to assess the presence of sites, whether or not they’ll be impacted by the undertaking, and in some cases to evaluate their eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places. These folks are responsible for ensuring that significant archaeological sites are given appropriate consideration (whether avoidance or mitigation) as projects move forward. After a report has been accepted by the SHPO, it needs to be recorded and mapped within CRGIS so that we can keep a record of the locations and results of these surveys. That’s where Dave and I come in! As we process reports, they become searchable within CRGIS and available to consultants and researchers. Without this processing, the locations and findings of these surveys are effectively “hidden” from consultants and SHPO staff alike.


As the reports are processed, they get filed in the SHPO record room.

Many aspects of this job are extremely educational and dovetail nicely with the things we learned in our graduate classes. For me personally, it’s been a fun challenge to work with an unfamiliar GIS application (even if I’m still partial to ArcMap). Plus, reading through all these reports is like a whirlwind course in some really cool PA archaeology! But looking at the bigger picture, it’s been helpful to learn what happens to reports and how they are reviewed. Seeing the tail end of the process helps me to better appreciate the importance of careful work in the field, the lab, and in creating clear and understandable reports. After all, once a site has been excavated, it has been destroyed, but that information will continue to exist within these reports and maps.