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:


“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.