Sabbatical. SABBATICAL. Roll that word around in your mouth. SAB.BAT.ICAL. It is the umami word in the academic lexicon. ‘Tenure’ is nice. ‘Promotion’ is lovely. Who doesn’t appreciate job security or a raise? But ‘sabbatical’ is the word that warms the cockles of a true academic’s heart, all the way down to the sub-cockle region. Sabbatical is the brief moment every seven years* when IUP professors get to do the things that led them to become professors in the first place. I love teaching, but I became a professor to do archaeology and to do the archaeology I want (the major distinction between the academy and CRM). During sabbatical I will have the time to do that. This is the closest that professors come to returning to the wonderful time of being a grad student working on thesis/dissertation research – that fleeting instant when you only had one project to hold in your mind and few, if any, outside distractions.

I’m pretty freaking excited about sabbatical.

The list of things I want to get done during my sabbatical is extensive, and I will not complete all of them. That is the nature of archaeology – there are so many important heritage resources and so little time. The two main projects that I want to advance are a maritime archaeology textbook and the Hanna’s Town project.

Jessi Halligan (Florida State University), Alexis Catsambis (Navy History and Heritage Command), and I have been contracted by Oxford University Press to write a maritime archaeology textbook aimed at undergraduates and introductory graduate students. We are still working on a catchy title. Over sabbatical, I will spend several days a week hiding in the library and writing sections of this book. As with any good textbook, the writing will take less time that the research to ensure that the book is based on the most up-to-date information.

I will be traveling to Greensburg on a regular basis to work on the Hanna’s Town project. IUP has been working at Hanna’s Town (the first capital of Westmoreland County) since 2011 and after thousands of student hours excavating the site and (more importantly) analyzing the artifact collection we are approaching the point where we can posit interesting and useful conclusions about the site. To that end I need to spend some quality time with the database we have created, and with the primary documents stored at the Westmoreland Historical Society. By the end of my sabbatical I hope to have the tools and background knowledge to begin producing articles about the site and to begin feeding new information to the site interpreters so that they can pass it along to the public.

It’ll be a busy sabbatical, but I hope to return refreshed and not as cranky.

*A note to future academics: Sabbaticals are not a given. At least at IUP, there are a result of a competitive process where the quality of your proposed scholarship is weighted against other factors to determine who is awarded a sabbatical. Faculty are eligible to apply every seven years.


…but the blog will still be here. Check back next semester for weekly posts.

Rocks and Roosters

By: John Rolf

Hey. What’s up? My name is John Rolf and I am a first year graduate student at IUP. As cliche as it sounds, I have wanted to be an archaeologist since I was a child. I used to devour anything I could related to foreign cultures, exotic locales, and action-adventure. Basically I was a huge fan of Indiana Jones and Dirk Pitt. However, with a subscription to Archaeology magazine, I learned early on that archaeology wasn’t all about fighting nazis and combing the desert for lost arks. Still that did not deter me from seeking a career in the field, rather it made me more fascinated by it.


Rocks: the worst thing to dig through

I received my BA from WVU, go Mountaineers, in sociology and anthropology with a focus in anthropology. It was here that I worked closely with Doug Sahady as a teaching assistant for both the WVU 2013 Field School and Archaeology Lab the following semester. It was during the field school that I learned two very important things besides how to conduct an archaeological investigation; digging through a garden of rocks is not fun and roosters make wonderful companions at archaeological sites since they eat all the bugs you dig up. That fall, as monotonous as it was, I assisted in cataloguing over 7,000 artifacts that semester too. If you want to talk about fun, try sitting in a shed looking at rocks for hours on end picking out what are artifacts and what are not, and then developing a database for it all on top of it. During this time, I also assisted Carl Mauer, president of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology – Mon/Yough Chapter 3, at the Schriver Farm site near Garards Fort, PA. We never really found anything outside of small chert flakes at this site, but it did give me a ton of experience conducting site surveys, laying grids, and identifying artifacts.


Me in Colorado!

After my undergrad, I took a year off to think about what I wanted to do, and at the time Colorado seemed like a good idea. So I moved to Colorado Springs. It was a beautiful place and I would have loved to stay out west, but grad school started scratching the back of my brain. I was interested in pursuing a degree that focused on the applied aspects of Archaeology, and I wanted a program that let me implement technology into my investigations. Ever since I attended a seminar in my undergrad about a man who used magnetometers for geophysically surveying a field, I’ve wanted to get training to do that professionally, plus use it in archaeological investigations. After a few Google searches, I stumbled upon IUP. I filled out the application a few weeks later, took my GRE’s (which are the worst by the way), packed up and headed back across the country to Oakland, Maryland, aka my hometown, but not before I visited the beautiful town of McCall, Idaho where my wonderful girlfriend was attending school at the MOSS Program.

If you ask anyone in my graduate class, they will tell you how great grad school is, and it really is, but there is no way to express the amount of work involved in pursuing a masters degree in Archaeology. By the end of the semester I will have written enough words to fill a small novel (literally!). I wouldn’t change a thing though. This program has taught me so much this semester alone and I cannot wait to continue on my educational journey here at IUP.

Life After IUP

By: Samantha Savory

Hello everyone my name is Sam and I am a former Applied Archeology graduate student at IUP and an employed archeologist! I left IUP in the summer of 2013 and spent the next year or so finishing my thesis. Take it from me, finish it in school, because once you’re out of the school environment the motivation fades fast! But I got it done and I am now focusing on work and other aspects of life, I have actually read a non-academic book!


A view of my work area when I was in Rhode Island, amazing office view!

Since leaving IUP I have worked for several companies around New England as a field technician. I have worked in several states and on all kinds of sites, finding a whole lot of nothing, but that is not always a bad thing. I have worked on different phases of the CRM process, walkover surveys, Phase I’s (mostly) and Phase IIs. I have seen so many cellar holes and mills throughout New England and Native American features in unexpected places it’s been amazing. I have also seen the side of CRM that leaves you digging a meter deep into gravel to prove that the area is disturbed.


A stone pipe carved in an English fashion, found at a contact site, evidence of contact and trade.

This summer I was promoted at one of my companies and I am currently working as a supervisor in my home state of NH. As a supervisor I draw the maps of our areas and write the summary our areas, such as terrain description, why the site is sensitive and what the soils were like during excavation. I have had an awesome field season and was able to boost my resume and make awesome contacts. Beyond the awesome people I met, I was able to see firsthand how much more goes into the entire process aside from digging holes.